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LOGAN -- Friday night Utah State (3-7, 2-4 WAC) plays one of the most important football games in the history of the program.
For a downtrodden squad that has spent the last decade plus wandering the desert, a game against No. 6 Boise State (10-0, 5-0 WAC) offers a rare chance for national television exposure. And maybe, just maybe, a chance to win a game against an opponent that has dominated the Aggies to the tune of eight straight wins, the last three by 35, 52 and 39 points. So perhaps covering the 23-point spread is a more realistic goal for the Aggies.
Junior quarterback Diondre Borel is ready to go against the Broncos. He calls the game "a chance for our team to prove the country wrong and for everybody to watch us on TV and see what we're about."
Coming after the shifty Borel will be a defense which simply leads the Western Athletic Conference in nearly all meaningful categories. If Boise can jump up on USU by a few scores and force the Aggies to become one-dimensional, it will allow defensive end Ryan Winterswyk - who is tied for second in the WAC with 6.5 sacks - and his cohorts to tee off on Borel.
Keeping the game close early on is key for USU head coach Gary Andersen's boys, which translates to strong defensive play and plenty of carries for running back Robert Turbin.
Turbin, just a sophomore, averages 112 rushing yards a game and has been Utah State's best player from the season opener. But Boise, led on offense by its excellent sophomore quarterback Kellen Moore, and his two favorite targets Austin Pettis and Titus Young, have been forcing other teams to play catch-up all year long.
The Broncos' two leading tacklers are both defensive backs, Jeron Johnson and junior college transfer Winston Venable, a statistical indicator of how Boise forces opposition to play its style of football.
"They've got a stout defensive line," Borel said. "They're pretty big up in the front and their linebackers are pretty good. They're very disciplined and they tackle the ball."
Boise's most lethal defender may very well be senior cornerback Kyle Wilson, who has three interceptions this year, but is deadly with the ball in his hands, having run two of those picks back for scores. Wilson is also a threat returning punts, averaging 10.6 yards a return.
For Borel, the key to victory is not worrying too much about what the Broncos are doing.
"Just play all four quarters and do our assignments," Borel said. "Let everything fall into place and let the playmakers make plays."
The problem is that Boise State has playmakers as well, and more of them.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. from Romney Stadium in Logan.