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SALT LAKE CITY — With a 1-5 record and Utah State players electing to cancel its final game of the regular season, the Aggies couldn't get much lower than the 2020 season.
The program was in disarray and fired head coach Gary Andersen midseason — even the exit of interim coach Frank Maile did little to persuade fans that Utah State was headed for a quick rebound. But former Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson, who filled the vacancy at head coach in December, has the Aggies in position for a special season.
The season hasn't been perfect, as should be expected with a new head coach, but Anderson has the Aggies primed for a Mountain division title with an 8-2 record following its latest victory on the road over San Jose State. Utah State's two losses on the season have come against a ranked BYU program and a Boise State team starting to put things together as of late.
There's been close victories and come-from-behind wins, but Utah State is getting it done, and Anderson and what he's done to give the Aggies an identity in such a short time deserves to be rewarded. For that, I've added Utah State to my ballot this week, though they've been hovering for some time.
Now it's just a question of what the other 62 Associated Press voters do this week with the Aggies. The last time the Aggies were ranked was in 2018 when Utah State finished with an 11-2 record and an eventual high of No. 14 in the AP Top 25. Will we see the Aggies ranked in the consensus poll this week?
Here's a look at some of my other picks for the week, though there wasn't much change:
- My top five teams remained untouched this week, including Ohio State above Oregon. Head-to-head results are an important factor to consider, but I still contend that Ohio State is a more complete team, especially as of late.
- Oklahoma has been playing with fire for some time and it was only a matter of time before the Sooners found itself in the losing column. All is not lost for Oklahoma, but there's not much hope they've turned a corner. The same problems exist, namely the offense struggles to score, regardless of who is under center. For the week, I've moved Baylor one spot above Oklahoma at No. 10
- In BYU's bye week, I moved Ole Miss above the Cougars (I kept BYU at No. 13) following a hard-fought win over a good Texas A&M team. Ole Miss really put it together late to pull away from Texas A&M. And talk about the hands of Ole Miss defenders, who manage two key interceptions late in the game to turn the tide of the game. Texas A&M falls to No. 17 in my poll.
- Sorry Purdue, there's only two wins over top-5 teams in the system this year — still a remarkable feat. But Ohio State is better, and significantly so. Ohio State stays put and Purdue drops out, but we'll always have the memories.
Checking in: Arkansas, Utah State, Wisconsin
Dropping out: Auburn, NC State, Purdue
In consideration: SMU
If you can't see the poll below, click here.