What does the latest — perhaps last — game in the rivalry against BYU mean for Utah State?
The Aggies have struggled this season, making an upset win over BYU precisely what is needed
Utah State needs a win.
At 1-3 overall and 0-1 in Mountain West Conference play, the Aggies are reeling, even if they showed some signs of improvement in Saturday’s loss to UNLV.
Thursday’s game against rival No. 19 BYU isn’t ideal on that front.
The Cougars are the clear favorite and the Aggies have to go on the road to Provo, into an extremely hostile environment, on a short week no less, as a team that is struggling across the board.
The Aggies know they have to be better — much better — if they are to have a chance at defeating the Cougars, but they also see the game against BYU as an opportunity.
A win against a heated rival on the road could be exactly the thing needed to jumpstart Utah State’s season and propel it to a successful campaign in conference play.
“I can’t think of a better time to play our best ball and get a win,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “To go down there and beat these guys, it is a huge challenge. They are a phenomenal football team.
“It would be huge for us. It would obviously give us a tremendous amount of momentum going forward.”
Throw in the fact that the game could well be the last one played between BYU and Utah State for a while, and Thursday’s game has the potential to be the most significant of the season for the Aggies.
“Everybody will remember the last one,” Anderson said. “That is great motivation for our guys to play their very best.”
The hiatus that the rivalry is taking isn’t ideal from a Utah State perspective, though Anderson understands why the Cougars and Aggies won’t be playing in the foreseeable future.
“It is a great rivalry,” Anderson said, “I understand what is going on and I think we all saw the potential of this coming with their move to the Big 12.
“Rivalry football is what college football is all about in my opinion. I have not always been able to be a part of that, but some of my most enjoyable experiences are these types of games. I hate to see it go. I understand why it is, but you’d like to think it will come around at some point, that we will be able to get it sorted out where this game comes back in the future.”
In the meantime, Utah State hopes to make the last game with BYU a memorable one.
“Hopefully we will take another step forward this week and find a way to win against a really, really good BYU team,” Anderson said. “It is maybe the last time we get to face them ever, which is a lot. No better time than now to play our best and go get a win.”
Aggies, Cougars on the air
Utah State (1-3) at No. 19 BYU (3-1)
Thursday, 6 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM