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Aggies to face older, better Troy University

Troy isn't the same team that beat Utah State 23-14 last season — it's better and more experienced.

"They have many of the same faces they had a year ago. They are an extremely veteran football team, which will be returning a lot of starters, " Utah State coach Mick Dennehy said.

The Trojans (2-2, 0-1) return nine defensive starters, while the offense returns eight players, including senior running back DeWhitt Betterson, who rushed 46 times for 230 yards in leading the Trojans to the nine-point victory over the Aggies.

"They have a tremendous, big, strong running back that's athletic," Dennehy said of the 6-foot, 218-pound Betterson. "It (the offense) creates big plays when you don't have to throw on passing situations."

In four games, Betterson is averaging 76.5 yards per game, with a high of 137 in a 22-18 Sun Belt Conference loss to New Mexico State. He rushed for a season-low 26 yards in a 17-15 victory over Marshall to open the season.

Quarterback Aaron Leak has thrown for 563 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions for an offense that is scoring just 16.5 points per game.

Wide receiver James Earl Cray leads Troy with 14 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown, while Jason Samples has 12 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown.

Unlike Utah State, Troy has started the same offensive linemen in its first four games, and that's a positive when a team is trying to develop consistency.

"Defensively, we are going to have to do a great job of holding up a very good offensive line," Dennehy said.

Defensively, Troy is allowing just 17 points a game and held No. 24 Missouri to just 14 in the Trojans' 17-14 victory.

Linebacker Bernard Davis leads the Trojans with 40 tackles (24 solo), two sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Defensive tackle Demarcus Ware leads the teams with five sacks to go along with 21 tackles (8 1/2 for loss). Three sacks came against Marshall, and for his efforts he was named the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the week.

Since winning their first two games against Marshall and Missouri, the Trojans lost to New Mexico State and South Carolina.

Utah State is 2-2 and is coming off a 31-21 victory of UNLV last week.

Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. (MDT), and can be seen live on KJZZ-TV.

WHAT HAPPENED TO 'STATE': The Troy State University Board of Trustees voted in April to drop "State" from the University's name.

"Our university leadership believes that the name 'Troy University' more accurately reflects our worldwide mission," school chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. said.

The university has 12,000 students from outside the state of Alabama — including students from 17 states and 10 foreign countries.

SACK ATTACK: Troy recorded eight sacks in its 17-15 victory over Marshall. The Trojans held the Thunder Herd to just 177 yard total offense (25 rushing) and 49 came on the game's final play.

WELCOME HOME: In its first two seasons as a Div. I-A team, Troy played eight games on the road in each of those seasons. This year, the Trojans will play just six. Utah State is playing seven road games and only four at home.

TAKING A BEATING: Since moving up in 2001, Troy has played eight teams ranked in the Top 25 (Nebraska three times) , Miami, Maryland, Iowa State, Kansas State and Missouri, and they have one more scheduled at LSU, the defending national champion.


Aggies on the air

Utah State (2-2, 1-0) at Troy (2-2, 0-1)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Movie Gallery Stadium

TV: KJZZ Ch. 14

Radio: 610 AM (Logan) 98.3 FM (SLC)


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com