SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State football was picked to finish the season the same way it finished last season in the No. 2 spot of the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. That’s two spots higher than they were picked in 2018, but there are plenty of naysayers willing to bet that is too generous.
The Aggies received votes in both the Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25 Poll at No. 35 and No. 37, respectively, after making the Top 25 last season three different times — reaching as high as No. 14.
Though the following games this season will have no long-term effect for the Aggies’ season, notable nonconference games to look out for include the season opener at Wake Forest, the LSU matchup on Oct. 5, and the in-state rivalry with BYU on Nov. 2.
Here's a bit more on these games:
The Demon Deacons had a winning streak on the road in an average season but went only 2-5 at home. That could be a good sign for the Aggies who open up their season on the road on Aug. 30. Wake Forest is in a quarterback limbo between redshirt junior Jamie Newman and sophomore Sam Hartman. Both quarterbacks have played in their two preseason scrimmages, so it’s hard to say who will start against Utah State.
The Oct. 5 road contest will bring just the third meeting between the Aggies and the LSU Tigers in program history. The last time the two team met was in 2001, and to say the Aggies football program has had a facelift in those past 18 years would be an understatement. The junior quarterback Joe Burrow at LSU boasts a 57.8% completion percentage against junior Jordan Love’s 64%. The Tigers are also coming off a winning season and a 10-3 record last year.
And then there’s the BYU game that Aggie fans (and Cougar fans, as much as they like to deny it) look forward to each year. A win for Utah State this season would constitute a 20-17 overall home record for the Aggies against the Cougars and a three game winning streak for Utah State as well. But let’s be honest here, the bragging rights are really the result most Aggies fans are looking forward to in that game.
Conference matchups to look out for include the conference opener against San Diego State and the last two home games against Wyoming and Boise State.
San Diego State had a decent season, at best, last year, finishing with a 7-6 record; but their win over conference champion Boise State should keep Aggie fans from being over-confident going into this game — not to mention the Aggies' overall record of 1-12 against the Aztecs. The two teams met last in 2016, which was Love’s redshirt season.
Wyoming is Utah State’s closest conference opponent and one of their biggest in-conference rivals. Last season’s game between the two teams had the Aggies in a tougher position than a lot of their games leading up to it. The Aggies ultimately came out on top, but this type of close-call game is nothing new to the rivalry, and any fan of good college football would be smart to tune in for this one.
The last home game for Utah State will be against the Boise State Broncos — the only conference loss on their record in 2018. The matchup will be exactly 364 days since the last matchup where Boise State won 33-24. In their last 10 games against each other, the Aggies have only beat the Broncos once; however, the Broncos lost their quarterback from last year due to graduation, so the returning power at Utah State could give the Aggies the upperhand in this matchup.