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Aggies have their backs to wall

LOGAN — History proves that Utah State thrives on crisis.

A loss in Sun Belt Conference play and Saturday's game with North Texas, the three-time defending conference champion, most definitely constitutes a crisis.

Trailing 42-0 last week at Troy University, the Aggies scored 21 points in the second half to make the contest somewhat respectable at 49-21.

"We didn't show up to play," Utah State coach Mick Dennehy said. "We don't seem to respond unless our backs are up against the wall."

Well, the Aggies' backs are firmly up against the wall this week. North Texas has won 19 straight conference games, and a USU loss would virtually shut the door on winning the conference and earning the automatic bid to the New Orleans Bowl.

"I don't think anyone is going to go through this league undefeated," Dennehy said. "I think that whoever goes to New Orleans will have one loss. I don't think you're going to be able to go to New Orleans with two."

The Aggies are 1-1 in conference play, as is Troy University and New Mexico State. North Texas, Arkansas State and La.-Lafayette are 1-0.

Already two games into league play, Utah State will need to win its remaining games and get a little help from someone else.

Due to Sun Belt scheduling quirks, the Aggies don't play La.-Lafayette for the second straight year, while North Texas and Troy don't play each other.

Utah State linebacker John Chick is hopeful the Aggies can achieve their Sun Belt Conference championship goal and it all starts with North Texas.

"North Texas is definitely a big game for us. We all expect that we have a good shot at the conference if we win the rest of our conference games," he said. "I believe Troy is going to be a team that is going to get beat. North Texas, we can beat."

Following North Texas, Utah State has four remaining conference games — Arkansas State, La.-Monroe, Middle Tennessee (all on the road) and it closes out the season Nov. 21 when it hosts New Mexico State. Those four teams are a combined 3-15.

"Now every game is a must-win situation, and every game will be a dogfight," Utah State freshman receiver Kevin Robinson said.

Utah State beat Arkansas State, La.-Monroe and Middle Tennessee last year.

"We're looking forward to North Texas," Chick said. "We went down there (last year) and had a couple of unfortunate snaps. Other than that, that's the only thing that took us out of that game."

Mean Green took advantage of two errant punt snaps and turned them into points in the 37-27 victory. North Texas scored on its first two possessions and five of its first six.

Along with the two bad exchanges, the Aggies had three turnovers. North Texas has 318 yards total offense to Utah State's 308.

Saturday's game kicks off at 6 p.m. at Romney Stadium.

CHAET UPDATE: Utah State punter Ben Chaet was erroneously credited with a minus-15 yard punt against Troy University. Because the punt was the result of a bad snap, the punt is credited as a team punt and not directly to Chaet.

Instead of being listed at 33rd in the nation in punting, Chaet is ninth with an average of 44.4 yards per punt.

Because of an ankle injury suffered on that play, Chaet will miss Saturday's game with North Texas.

EASON UPDATE: Former Utah State wide receiver Jerome Eason has three catches for 82 yards in Southern Utah's 56-14 victory over No. 23 McNeese State last week. He is second on the team in catches with 24 (he trails Lehi's A.J. Smith who has 36). Eason leads the team in receiving yards with 371 and touchdowns receptions with five.


Aggies on the air

North Texas (1-4, 1-0) at Utah State (2-3, 1-1)

Saturday, 6 p.m., Romney Stadium

TV: None

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


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com