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The nervous joke around Aggieville lately is that they planned all along to shoot blanks until this Saturday at San Jose State so they could get the first win in their inaugural telecast with new partner KUTV-Ch. 2.

Perhaps San Jose State thought the same thing; SJSU is 0-4, USU 0-3.The Spartans have come a little closer to winning than the Ags, falling 18-17 at home to Northern Illinois in a Big West Conference game. USU's closest was a 24-21 loss to Southern Mississippi in the Aggies' last game, Sept. 16. Southern Miss ripped Northern Illinois 45-13 in Hattiesburg, Miss., Aug. 31.

NO COUNT: USU and SJSU are Big West members, but this game won't count in league standings. It's termed a wild-card game; in reality, it's nonleague.

The reason? With the consortium disbanding (Southwestern Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas State and Northern Illinois dropping out), San Jose and UNLV leaving for the WAC and new teams (Boise State, Idaho and North Texas) joining the Big West in '96, only four schools scheduled seven BWC games in '95. Six have six. Those with seven thus play a league member in a no-count game like this. Nevada's 45-24 win at New Mexico State doesn't count, either.

The no-count aspect changes nothing about USU's approach, says coach John L. Smith. "We need a win to build our confidence. It doesn't matter if this is considered a league game," he says.

ADD BROADCAST: KUTV's first Aggie telecast, at 2:35 p.m. MDT, preceded by a half-hour coach's show with Smith, could be strange: Mild-mannered KISN AM-570 Sportstalk host Craig Hislop refereeing (i.e. doing color) for the Foxy-Lockesy Dave Duo. KUTV's Fox will call play-by-play while KISN's Locke reports from the sideline.

ADD 0-3: At Tuesday's Big 5 coaches/media huddle, Smith congratulated last week's winners (Utah, Weber), then lauded his own team for getting through a week without a loss - the bye week.

ADD PREGAME: For his coach's show, Smith went on a videotaped USU campus tour (he's only been there 81/2 months, remember). He visited a water research lab where a rainmaking machine is used in the study of how highway dirtbanks fare. The rainmaker didn't work that day; "We're simulating a drought," was the feigned answer. At another stop, elementary schoolers were studying what bugs survive in certain environments. Smith asked the kids what kind of bugs they were. Nobody knew.

STATS: With no game last week, Abu Wilson advanced five slots in NCAA rushing average to 14th (128.0); the same figure was 19th a week earlier. By being idle, he moved to first in the Big West from third last week. He also went from seventh to sixth/NCAA in all-purpose yards (195.0); that remains first/BWC. QB Patrick Mullins went from seventh to sixth/NCAA but dropped from second to third/BWC in total offense (301.3 ypg).

LB David Gill tops USU defenders with 40 tackles in three games with a career-high 17 (10 solo) vs. Southern Miss.