Utah State football gets ESPN primetime test against San Jose
ESPN announced its initial seven televised games as part of its Mountain West Conference deal. And Utah State football learned it will have an early national primetime stage to show it's a true contender this season.
The Aggies' game at San Jose State on Sept. 27 has been plugged in for a 7 p.m. MT kickoff on ESPN - the flagship.
It won't be easy: It comes at the end of a brutal stretch of four of five games on the road and a short week after playing USC. San Jose State returns quarterback David Fales and 15 other starters who all surely remember being smothered in a 49-27 Aggies win last year.
The exposure means Utah State is in line for a national TV bonus, but it's also a big opportunity for Utah State to prove it can contend with the top of the division on a big platform. Both SJSU and USU will likely be picked in the top half of the league, and it's an early test to see who might be left standing at the end of the season.
There are other fairly self-evident reasons ESPN picked this one up in its first sweep of Mountain West games: two great quarterbacks, two new coaches, and the wonderful aspect of the revenge factor. It's a pretty solid TV prospect, as far as midmajor conferences go.
This is unlikely to be Utah State's only national exposure, especially if they play well. Games at Utah and USC, as well as hosting BYU could be a help. CBS Sports, which retains rights as the primary carrirer for the Mountain West, could take a hard look at Boise State coming to visit Logan.
Utah State is no stranger to ESPN. The team has been on the family of networks 14 times in the last two seasons, but being on the main network is definitely a plus.
Between CBS and ESPN, the networks can televise up to 44 other conference football games on their networks. The Mountain West will be on ESPN for four consecutive Friday nights from Sept. 13 to Oct. 7.
In the initial seven-game package, Air Force was slated for three appearances on ESPN networks: at Boise State on ESPN, at New Mexico on ESPNU, and hosting UNLV on ESPNU. San Jose State was the only other school to get multiple games announced in the first package, also getting its game against Navy on ESPN2 in November.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon