Blake Anderson isn’t one for excuses when it comes to Utah State being 3-4 this season.

The Aggies, though — fresh off a 37-32 loss to Fresno State at home Friday night — have played some good to great competition this season.

Iowa is currently 6-1 and appears to have the inside track to winning the Big Ten West division and earning a trip to the conference title game.

“We’ve got to find ways to really break through with this group and get beyond those mistakes that cost us the other night. We need to move past getting close and get to the point where we’re finding ways to win.” — USU coach Blake Anderson

James Madison is 6-0 and is the only undefeated team remaining in the Sun Belt Conference, while Air Force is also 6-0 and the only undefeated team remaining in the Mountain West Conference.

As for Fresno State, the Bulldogs are 6-1 thanks to the win over USU and very much alive in the MW title race.

According to Sagarin.com, the Aggies have played the sixth-most difficult schedule among Mountain West teams this season, a ranking brought down a bit by games against Idaho State (an FCS foe), UConn (1-5) and Colorado State (3-3), all opponents the Aggies have beaten.

Anderson understands who his team has played. The caliber of teams the Aggies have lost to and beaten this season.

“(Everyone) is aware of the schedule we’ve played,” he said Monday during his weekly press conference.

The thing is, after seven weeks of football — during which time the Aggies have shown consistent improvement and become one of the best offensive teams in the country — Anderson believes it is time for Utah State to stop losing to good teams and start being one of them. By beating them. And he wasn’t shy about expressing it.

“There has been a lot of talk about the four opponents that we’ve lost to,” Anderson said. “And their records. They are good teams, but we’re capable of being a good team as well.

“And so that’s the frustration, getting past that point, some of the mistakes and issues that have kept us from being able to get over the hump against teams that we were really close to beating.”

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Anderson isn’t wrong to bemoan Utah State’s showings in its losses this year. The Aggies had a genuine chance to win late in at least two of their four defeats, at home against James Madison and Fresno State.

They didn’t, though, nor did they overcome brutal starts against Iowa and Air Force and rally for victories.

Because of it, USU ranks No. 94 in country per Sagarin, is rated No. 104 by The Athletic at the midseason point, in the lowest FBS tier, and is ranked No. 86 overall in ESPN’s Football Power Index.

All despite the fact that Utah State has the 16th-best scoring offense in the country and is averaging 35 points per game. It is an offensive attack that Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford described as “explosive,” both before and after the Bulldogs’ win.

A few days removed from the loss to Fresno State, Anderson was still frustrated about the Aggies’ miscues Friday night, of which there were plenty.

“Fresno State made plays that they needed to make in critical situations and we just didn’t,” he said. “There’s some inexperience (that) still shows up, there’s some lack of discipline at times that shows up and there’s some miscommunication that shows up. All things that we’ve got to coach them out of.

“We’ve got to find ways to really break through with this group and get beyond those mistakes that cost us the other night. We need to move past getting close and get to the point where we’re finding ways to win.”

There is a sense of urgency now that Utah State is past the halfway point of the season.

With just five games remaining, bowl eligibility still eludes the Aggies and the MW title race appears to be all but over for them. At least it will be if Utah State loses another conference game.

Aggies on the air


Utah State (3-4)
at San Jose State (2-5)
Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT
CEFCU Stadium, San Jose
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: Aggies Sports Network

The Aggies’ next opponent, San Jose State (2-5), is in a very similar situation with a 1-2 record in conference, which makes this weekend’s game in California nearly a must-win for both teams.

It most certainly is if Anderson and company want the 2023 Aggies to be remembered as the good team he contends that it is or has the potential to be.

“We (USU and SJSU) are both fighting for our lives at this point,” Anderson said. “In terms of bowl eligibility and league play, so it’ll be a battle of course.”

After San Jose State, USU will only face more and more desperate teams to close out the year, including traditional powers experiencing hard times in San Diego State (3-4 overall, 1-2 in MW play) and Boise State (3-4 overall, 2-1 in MW play).

“We’ve got a way to keep working,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t get easier.”