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ESPN game could be a launching point for Utah State — if Aggies win
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Another chance for Utah State to get national exposure on Friday night? You betcha.

The Aggies will have a lot of eyes watching for their primetime match-up with San Jose State on ESPN with a Friday 7 p.m. MT kick. It should be one of the team's larger platforms this year, as most of Utah State's games for the rest of the schedule will be on CBS Sports Network.

Last week's barn-burner between Boise State and Fresno State drew more than 2.1 million viewers, according to available Nielsen ratings. The Broncos, one of the more recognizable mid-majors in college football, surely drew some extra eyeballs, but so did the 41-40 final score in the Battle of the Milk Can.

Think about what Fresno gained for a minute: The Bulldogs launched their undefeated campaign into a BCS-contending season. They established themselves as the Mountain West team to beat. Derek Carr, who has been sensational this season either way, basically grew a Heisman campaign overnight.

The Aggies were on ABC and ESPN2 last week, but fell 17-14 to USC. Matt Wells said this week, the exposure at stake is "the same."

"On national television we have to play well for it to mean something with recruiting and branding and imaging and all those things we want to do for our football program and university," he said. "You have to play well. We played well Saturday against USC, we didn't hurt our cause and there's a lot of people around the country that I think gained respect for Utah State."

On the heels of that statement, Wells added that there's "not one moral victory" in taking a loss. And that is defintely true against San Jose State, when a loss can hurt the Aggies' standing in conference play.

I said this in Thursday's college football TribTalk: People remember winners. That's an important distinction. Utah State certainly did itsef no harm by going on ABC and battling USC, but the game won't have lasting impact for the Aggies because they didn't win. Just like close games against Auburn and Wisconsin are fading into the record books, so will this most recent loss to the Trojans.

If Utah State wants to make a statement, they can't just play well in front of a large television audience, they have to win - and probably have to win convincingly against San Jose State. The funny thing about the Spartans, another one of college football's mid-size brands, is that the same things are on the line for them as well.

That's just one thing that should make this Friday night bout an entertaining game.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon

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