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What’s happened when BYU football faced Utah State as a 4-0 team

The Cougars own a 4-1 record over the Aggies when entering the rivalry game with a 4-0 record. That one loss, though, stands out, as does how BYU finished four of those seasons.

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BYU’s Luke Staley runs into congestion against the Utah State defense on Oct. 5, 2001.

BYU’s Luke Staley runs into congestion against the Utah State defense on Oct. 5, 2001. Staley had four touchdowns in the Cougars’ 2001 win over the Aggies.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

When BYU faces Utah State on Friday night, the Cougars will take a 4-0 record into Maverik Stadium.

It’s the sixth time the two teams will meet with BYU 4-0 on the year, according to CougarStats. While the Cougars are 4-1 in the five previous matchups under these circumstances, Utah State has routinely made these contests interesting.

The Aggies bring a 3-1 record into this season’s game, and a victory over the Cougars would help USU as it returns to conference play in the coming weeks.

Here’s a look back at the five previous times BYU went into the game against Utah State with a 4-0 record, and how both teams finished those seasons.

There’s a commonality between each of the matchups: every time, BYU has been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. This year, the Cougars are ranked No. 13 entering the contest.

1979: BYU 48, Utah State 24

BYU had beaten Texas A&M 18-17 to start the season and won its next three games by an average of 30 points. Utah State came into the game with a 3-1-1 record, including a 47-21 win over Utah.

The Cougars, ranked No. 16 in the AP poll, jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Utah State and never trailed in Logan before easing their way to the 24-point victory. Eric Lane ran for 67 yards and five touchdowns to lead BYU.

How BYU finished the 1979 season: The Cougars went 11-0 in the regular season before losing 38-37 to Indiana in the Holiday Bowl. They finished the year ranked No. 13 in the AP poll.

How Utah State finished the 1979 season: The Aggies won four of their final five games and ended the year with a 7-3-1 record.

1981: BYU 32, Utah State 26

BYU had three road victories before matching up against Utah State, including a 41-20 win at Colorado. Utah State was 2-2 but coming off a 28-point loss at Houston.

This game was much tighter than two years prior as the Cougars, ranked No. 10 nationally at the time, had to rally for the win in Provo. Chico Canales threw three touchdown passes for Utah State, which led 20-13 and 26-20 in the fourth quarter.

BYU outscored the Aggies 19-12 in the fourth, though, capped by a 12-yard Todd Shell interception return for a touchdown to give the Cougars the win.

How BYU finished the 1981 season: The Cougars lost the next week in a shootout at UNLV before ending the year 11-2 and ranked No. 13 in the final AP poll.

How Utah State finished the 1981 season: The Aggies ended up with a 5-5-1 record after an up-and-down year.

2001: BYU 54, Utah State 34

BYU had beaten its previous four opponents by an average of 28 points to start the Gary Crowton era, though it had to rally to beat UNLV the week before. Utah State was 0-4 with losses to Utah, LSU, Wyoming and Oregon.

The Cougars, ranked No. 20 in the AP poll, trailed Utah State 27-21 at the half in Provo thanks to two late first-half touchdown runs from Emmett White. The Aggies pushed that lead to 34-21 early in the third on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jose Fuentes to Chris Stallworth, but the Cougars rallied behind star back Luke Staley, who scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and finished with 207 rushing yards and four scores.

BYU scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, ending the game on a 33-0 run.

How BYU finished the 2001 season: The Cougars won 12 straight before losing their final two games, including a bowl loss to Louisville. BYU ended the year No. 25 in the final AP poll.

How Utah State finished the 2001 season: The Aggies rebounded the next week for their first win — a 28-27 victory over Idaho State — and won four straight before finishing the year with two more losses and a 4-7 record.

2008: BYU 34, Utah State 14

BYU went into the game against Utah State having shut out its previous two opponents, beating UCLA 59-0 and Wyoming 44-0. The Aggies were 1-3 but were coming off a 42-17 win at Idaho.

Unlike other contests on this list, BYU never gave Utah State a chance to hang around in 2008. The Cougars jumped out to a 24-0 lead after the first quarter and cruised to the win in Logan. Max Hall threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns as BYU increased its lead to 34-0 in the third quarter before a couple of late Aggie touchdowns accounted for the final score.

How BYU finished the 2008 season: The Cougars won the next week before a loss to TCU and got to 10-1 on the year before losing to Utah and in their bowl game to Arizona. BYU went 10-3 and was No. 25 in the final AP poll.

How Utah State finished the 2008 season: The Aggies won twice more against five losses to end the year with a 3-9 record.

2014: Utah State 35, BYU 20

BYU had a dominant 41-7 win over Texas and thrilling victories over Houston and Virginia on its resume heading into the USU game. Utah State was 2-2 with a win over Wake Forest but most recently a loss at Arkansas State.

The Cougars, ranked No. 18 at the time, went ahead 14-7 early in the second quarter when Taysom Hill completed a 25-yard pass to Mitch Mathews. Darrell Garretson, though, led a Utah State second-quarter surge of three straight touchdowns, and Hill was lost for the season just before halftime when he fractured his left leg.

The Aggies pushed their lead to as much as 35-17 as Garretson threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in Utah State’s first win in Provo since 1978.

How BYU finished the 2014 season: Starting with the USU defeat, the Cougars lost four straight under replacement quarterback Christian Stewart before winning four straight heading into the postseason. They lost to Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl to finish 8-5.

How Utah State finished the 2014 season: The Aggies built off the victory and won seven of their next nine games to end the year with a 10-4 record, capped by a 21-6 win over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl.