Blake Anderson holding his own with Kalani Sitake and Kyle Whittingham (plus Week 11 predictions)
The state of Utah could have three ranked teams when all is said and done
This state has football coaches who’ve elevated big time.
Utah State’s Blake Anderson has literally pulled the Aggies up from a dumpster fire to a possible Mountain West Conference championship.
Utah, BYU and USU are a combined 21-7 heading into this weekend, where the Utes take on Arizona in Tucson, the Aggies play San Jose State and the Cougars have a long-overdue bye.
Utah (6-3) leads the Pac-12 South at 5-1, BYU (8-2) is tied with Notre Dame for wins as an independent, and USU (7-2) can still win the Mountain Division of the Mountain West.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that all three teams can finish the season ranked in the top 25.
I salute the head coaches. I tip the hat to the assistant coaches, trainers, managers and ball boys.
One of the more remarkable jobs at present is the one by USU’s Anderson and his staff.
The Aggies were 1-5 a year ago. He brought players to Logan from Arkansas State — just the right kinds at key positions. He established a culture, installed a new system, and from Day 1 simply blew up every prognosticator’s guess sheet with a road win at Washington State. Well, I did predict that win.
But, to have the Aggies on the edge of eight wins. Nobody I know of in this business had that down on their pick sheet.
USU is undefeated on the road. They come back late on opponents like a rabid dog.
Anderson is the only first-year coach to have won seven games so far this season.
Utah State ranks in the top 50 teams in the nation in 21 statistical categories, including 13th in the nation in total offense at 473.3 yards per game. That leads the Mountain West.
This week’s picks
Michigan 28, Penn State 21
Oklahoma 33, Baylor 28
Georgia 38, Tennessee 21
Ohio State 34, Purdue 21
Texas A&M 27, Mississippi 21
Arizona State 21, Washington 17
Notre Dame 31, Virginia 24
UCLA 21, Colorado 14
Oregon 37, Washington State 31
Utah 38, Arizona 17
Utah State 28, San Jose State 24
Last week 7-4; overall 109-56 (.660).
USU also ranks third in the nation in tackles for loss (7.7 pg), 12th in the nation in passing offense (321.0 ypg), 23rd in the nation in third downs converted at 46.0% (69 of 150), 23rd in the nation in kickoff returns (25.2 ypr) and 34th in the nation with nine passes intercepted (1.0 pg).
Those are some numbers, folks.
How historically good is Anderson’s team this year?
At 7-2 through the first nine games, the Aggies have the third-best start in the last 43 years, trailing only the 2012 and 2018 teams that both finished 11-2.
Anderson has a knack for doing something at halftime or late in games.
If another team has a lead, he somehow chases down the pack and bites hard.
Last week in a win over New Mexico State, the Aggies simply stunk it up for a half of football then came out and tripled the numbers on total offense and won by outscoring NMSU by 28 points.
The Utes stand 6-3 and lead the Pac-12 South with a 5-1 record.
Utah State is 7-2 and 4-1 in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West.
BYU is undefeated 4-0 in the Pac-12 and 8-2 overall heading into a game next week with Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Georgia.
All are headed to bowl games.
This is Beehive State major college football.