Utah State football: Aggies climb into rankings
Ruston, La. • Utah State made history Sunday morning, receiving a national ranking for the first time in 34 years.
That's what happens when you go score your first-ever road victory against a top-20 team.
Utah State is tied with Mississippi State at No. 25 in The Associated Press poll.
So, what's next for the Aggies?
In the short term, Utah State (9-2, 5-0 WAC) prepares for Idaho. As gratifying as the 48-41 overtime win over Louisiana Tech was Saturday night, the Aggies still have one small step to take. A win over the Vandals one of the worst teams in the country this season would give Utah State its first outright conference title since 1936.
So amid the celebration on Saturday night, USU was well aware that the journey isn't yet over.
"We have to prepare like we have for each one of our other games," Aggies coach Gary Andersen said. "We know what we have to do. We'll start meetings on Monday and go through everything this week like nothing has changed. We still have a lot to play for."
Utah State also has to figure out its bowl situation. As the WAC champion, the Aggies are guaranteed a spot in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the second consecutive season if they want it. With 70 bowl spots and 57 bowl eligible teams, though, there is a chance Utah State can go in another direction.
USU athletics director Scott Barnes told The Salt Lake Tribune that the Potato Bowl is still a likely destination. But the Aggies will convene, and scope the "lay of the land" in the coming days. The feeling is that Utah State may have the opportunity to secure a spot in a higher-profile bowl against a better opponent that has a higher payout.
Going to Boise for the Potato Bowl appeals to Barnes because of the proximity and the practical guarantee that much of the USU fan base will make the five-hour drive. Barnes said he hopes to make a decision in the coming days.
"We're proud of where we are, and we're extremely happy with the Potato Bowl," Barnes said. "We have to see what's next, and we're going to make the best decision that we can. I'm just happy and proud of the football program. For us to get that kind of win against a great Louisiana Tech program is a monumental accomplishment."