Homecoming festivities in Cache Valley last week included parades and face-painting with the cherry on top of a 59-28 football victory over UNLV. Here are three items of note from that thrashing, plus three things about the upcoming matchup on the road versus Wyoming and three things about the MWC, too.
Three things from the past: USU vs. UNLV
1. Offense, offense, offense
Heard this one before? The Aggies can score in every phase of the game, but it's clear that the offense is an A+ on the grading scale. Consider:
- It was the fifth straight game that the Ags have scored 40+ points. That accomplishment has only been done 134 times in all of college football since 1869.
- In a surprisingly less-than-par first quarter, the Aggies found themselves tied with UNLV 7-7. In about five minutes of game time, Utah State scored four touchdowns to take a 35-7 lead.
- Those touchdowns took an average of 50 seconds of playing time each time. That, my friends, is the definition of explosive.
- You may have heard of the Alabama Crimson Tide. They lead the nation in points per game at 53.6. Utah State is second with 51.7 ppg. What's telling is that despite ranking second in the nation for scoring, Utah State ranks 124th (out of 129) teams in the nation for time of possession. Again, my friends, explosive.
2. But also: defense, defense, defense
Flip the field and let's talk about the defense. Those numbers are just as dominating. Consider:
- David Woodward had three sacks and 12 total tackles against the Rebels. According to Daniel Hansen, a writer for the campus newspaper in Logan, he is the first FBS player to record three or more sacks and 10 or more tackles in a single game this year.
- Tipa Galeai, the transfer from TCU, had another sack Saturday afternoon, which gives him five for the season. If you are wondering, Hansen also points out that five is already more than anyone totaled on last year's squad.
- Jontrell Rocquemore, a senior safety, had back-to-back games with interceptions at BYU and then home against UNLV. That now gives the Aggies seven picks on the season, plus seven fumble recoveries too. That's 14 total takeaways, good for 11th in the nation behind teams like ’Bama, Florida and LSU.
3. Jordan Love is simply lovely
The sophomore quarterback is putting up an impressive season after another easy day of work last Saturday. Love tied the school record with five passing touchdowns and 322 yards, all essentially in the first half. He is playing so effortlessly that he is also playing so little in these games, which should help when late November rolls around.
Oh, and despite his limited playing time, Love won the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week award. Again. It's his third time receiving the honor this year and could have been his fourth or fifth if he played full games at the start of the season.
Love's throws were bombs (an 80-yard blast to Jalen Greene) and tight (both TD throws to Ron'Quavion Tarver were over the shoulder, edge of the end zone, in traffic beauties), efficient (17-23), and clean (no interceptions and only three on the year).
The kid is good.
Three things about the future: USU at Wyoming
1. Laramie is always tough but …
Games on the road against the Cowboys are never easy. The Aggies are heavy favorites, but this is one of the toughest conference games the boys in blue will have until late November. Despite the 2-5 record, Wyoming does display a tough defense that allows 25 points a game and limited rushing yards. Will they be able to replicate their season success against the high-octane offense and multi-dimensional run game? ESPN's matchup predictor says no: USU is 86 percent likely to win the game.
2. Quarterback play
Josh Allen left Wyoming as one of its best quarterbacks in program history and was selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Bills. He has recently started for the Bills and put up some decent numbers along the way.
His replacement is the opposite. Tyler Vander Waal, albeit a freshman, lines up behind center and last week only completed 35 percent of his passes (12/32). Correlating, Wyoming failed to score an offensive touchdown for the second consecutive week and put up only 221 total yards against Fresno State, its second lowest of the season.
Some of the offensive struggles could be blamed elsewhere, specifically at the O-line, which has allowed Vander Waal to be sacked 19 times this season (Love sits at five for comparison purposes). It's highly likely that number will cross 20 after the afternoon game on Saturday (12:30 MDT kickoff).
3. Third-down conversions
For the season, Wyoming has found itself in 100 third-down situations. It is an NCAA-worst 29 percent on converting those downs. Utah State defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has brought a variety of blitz packages on third downs, which will be even more prevalent against a young quarterback and a struggling offense in Laramie. If the Aggie defense can force third downs, the odds aren't exactly in Wyoming's favor.
EXTRA: Something nice
Cooper Rothe, a junior, is Wyoming's place-kicker, and perhaps its best offensive player. He has yet to miss on his nine field goal attempts this season and is 111/112 on extra points in his career.
Three things about the MWC
1. The nail-biter in Fort Collins
Speaking of kickers, Colorado State is thanking its lucky stars for Wyatt Bryan and his faithful foot.
Quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels led an 11-play drive in the final two minutes of a tight game that resulted in Bryan nailing a 26-yard field goal at the buzzer to give the Rams a 20-18 win over New Mexico.
Per ESPN, Bryan's winning kick was the 51st field goal of his career, which ties the CSU record. Bryan is also the school's all-time leading scorer with 319 points.
2. Poor San José
The Spartans stay winless after a thorough defeat by Army, 52-3. There were 15,000 fans in Santa Clara, California, that afternoon to add another tortured fan loss to this season's belt.
San José hopes to crack into the win column against a strong division foe in San Diego State. There's a really good chance San José will be 0-9 when it visits Cache Valley on Nov. 10.
3. Fresno State across the division
San Diego State is ahead of both USU and Fresno State in the polls, but barely (28th, 31st, and 36th in the recent AP poll). The Big West divisional game with FSU and SDSU won't occur until Nov. 9, but the Bulldogs are actually beginning to become favorites.
In the last two weeks against conference play, Fresno State has given up just six points total (against Nevada and Wyoming). On the season, Fresno State has allowed just 81 points. In fact, the team gives up 13.5 points a game, which is second best in the country. Pull up any statistical listing and you'll see Fresno's defense in the top 20 over various categories. It's Fresno's defense that will give it an advantage every game.
This week, the team travels to New Mexico to take on the 3-3 Lobos.