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Utah State's win was historic, but Aggies can't celebrate with North Dakota up next

Utah State wide receiver Savon Scarver carries the ball during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Pullman, Wash.

Utah State wide receiver Savon Scarver carries the ball during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. (Young Kwak, Associated Press)

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Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

LOGAN — Utah State football pulled off the unlikely upset on Saturday night, defeating Washington State 26-23. Here's a glance at the significance of the victory, and a look ahead to the North Dakota game Friday night.

Historic win

Utah State broke several streaks with their win Saturday night. Here's a glance at a few of them:

  • Starting 1-0 on the season for the first time since 2016 (Weber State).
  • The first victory over a Power Five opponent since 2014 (Wake Forest).
  • Beating a Pac-12 opponent for the first time since 2012 (Utah).
  • First double-digit comeback in the fourth quarter since 2011 (Hawaii).
  • New Utah State head coach winning their first game since 1973 (Phil Krueger against Weber State).
  • Beating a Power Five opponent on the road for the first time since 1975 (Kansas State).
  • The first road win against a Pac-12 opponent in school history.

"Excited for the guys, excited for the fan base," head coach Blake Anderson said during Monday's press conference. "(Hearing) what has or hasn't been done in the past, it's clearly just a big milestone for us. But we don't want that to be it we want to build on this."

Two heads, one job

Manufacturing two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, including the game-winner, it seemed clear Logan Bonner had solidified himself ahead of Andrew Peasley as the starting quarterback. But on paper, no declaration has been made.

Monday morning's depth chart stated the starter as Bonner or Peasley. But astoundingly enough, approximately 15 minutes into Monday morning's press conference, none of the five journalists, including myself, had inquired about the quarterback battle.

Perhaps anticipating a non-answer from Anderson, it looked like nobody would ask about it. So I fired away.

"I mean, I appreciate y'all's patience," Anderson quipped. "Wait until, I don't know, question seven or eight. But I felt that'd go in the top three for sure.

"We are moving towards one, there's no doubt, and this is not something we're going to continue all year," he continued. "But this week could very well see a similar rotation. We just want to be very thorough."

You don't have to be a football guru to read in between the lines. Anderson is honing in on Bonner being his starter, but he's not going to rush it. Expect Peasley to play meaningful minutes again against North Dakota. Besides, facing an FCS school, you don't have to worry too much about solidifying your quarterback, right?

Don't overlook North Dakota

This isn't the year to overlook teams playing in the lower subdivision of college football. Whether it's because FCS schools are more prepared from playing a spring season, or FBS teams are less prepared by playing a shortened 2020 season, there were several upsets in the opening weekend.

Just out west, Montana beat No. 20 Washington, Eastern Washington beat UNLV, and South Dakota State beat Colorado State. The Jackrabbits didn't make it particularly close either, taking down the Rams 42-23.

While you never want to read too much into transitive victories, it's notable that North Dakota beat South Dakota State in the spring 28-17.

"(North Dakota) beat the breaks off of South Dakota State, who just beat Colorado State this weekend," Anderson said. "So there's a lot of reasons to be alert and awake and aware of the opponent coming in this week."

The Fighting Hawks, who reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs in the spring, coming off a 35-14 win over Idaho State, are ranked No. 9 in the FCS rankings.

They boast running back Otis Weah, who was a second team All-American in FCS last season. He rushed for 114 yards against Idaho State. To balance him on offense is quarterback Tommy Shuster, who was 14-of-18 passing for 183 yards.

The defense has a strong linebackers core led by Devon Krzanowski and Noah Larson; it's a group with the ability to force turnovers.

The Aggies will need to play their best football on Friday night. Having the home-field advantage will certainly help ...

White out

The Aggies' home opener on Friday is going to be white out.

The iconic chalk toss — which the student section of up to 6,500 strong called the "The Hurd" did at previous white out games against BYU and Air Force — has been discontinued. According to the Logan City fire marshall, it's a "fire code violation."

Regardless, it should be a fun atmosphere. Because this weekend is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Utah State sold hundreds of white Aggie shirts commemorating the attacks that say "never forgot," and have a red, white and blue design of the Twin Towers.

And rumor has it, there's going to be a giant American flag that is unfurled over the entire field pregame.

"Excited about playing for our home crowd on Friday night," Anderson said. "I think it's a white out If I'm not mistaken. So it should be electric. ... Where else would you want to be?"

The one issue? As of Wednesday morning, there are still thousands of unsold tickets, which isn't surprising. In 2018, when the Aggies went 11-2, they averaged 18,717 fans, which is just 73% of capacity. In 2019, with increased season ticket sales coming off an 11-2 season — and hosting BYU and Boise State — they averaged 19,609 fans in six games.

Fresh off a Power Five victory and returning to full capacity for the first time in nearly two years, you'd hope there would be an uptick in ticket sales. But unless the Aggies are playing a particular in-state rival to the south, don't expect a full house.



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