Utah State football: Colorado State a tough test for Aggies
Utah State coach Matt Wells says there are two kinds of teams in November: The ones that try to win games for the seniors or to be spoilers, and the ones that have meaningful games ahead.
With two regular-season games left, Utah State (6-4, 5-1) finds itself in the latter category.
"They have sense of purpose," Wells said. "We're in the middle of a Mountain West race. For our kids to know that and say, 'We have to finish strong' â¦ that's exciting."
The Aggies' next opponent, Colorado State, also finds itself still competing for something as well, and the Rams just happen to have a running back Wells called "the hottest in the country."
On Saturday, Utah State will host red-hot CSU and its star rusher Kapri Bibbs. The sophomore back has galloped for 603 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last two games, and his run of strong outings has helped Colorado State win four of its last five.
Utah State's defense has been stout this year No. 17 in scoring defense and No. 20 in total defense but Wells acknowledged that Bibbs will be a handful.
"He's playing better than probably any back in the nation," he said. "He's a back that runs with great vision, great balance and has home run speed at the end. You can tell on tape that guys have a lot of trouble getting him down."
The 5-foot-11 Bibbs isn't the only big threat on the team: Quarterback Garrett Grayson has been one of the better passers in the league. Wells said he's familiar with Grayson's leadership and athletic ability because he recruited him when he was coaching at Louisville.
The Aggies also have to worry about the man in the headset. Former Utah State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin, once Wells' boss, could have some solid insights into the Aggies' defensive schemes although they've changed up a little bit since Baldwin was in Logan.
Wells chuckled when asked if he thought Baldwin would be advising Colorado State's defense as well, saying he wish he knew. But he also knows the Rams offense as a whole to be no laughing matter.
"It's just play action," he said. "Anytime you've got a running back that's been that productive, and you scheme up movement passes and play-action passes and shot passes that are the same as in the run game, it helps receivers get open."
Defensively, the Aggies have seen better secondaries this year. Colorado State ranks dead last against the pass in the conference, giving up 298.4 yards through the air per game.
But that doesn't mean there aren't individual weapons on the Rams' defense. Safety Trent Matthews has four picks this year. And Wells said it feels like he's played run-stuffing linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Shaq Bell countless times over the course of his career.
"Is [Barrett] ever going to graduate?" Wells asked, tongue firmly in cheek. "Every year we've played them, 56 and 3, and it's like they're never going to come off the screen. Really good players, very productive, solid careers."
Utah State is coming off a bye that Wells said left the team feeling "refreshed and energized." The Aggies will need that extra pep to win out in their regular season schedule and give themselves a chance at going to the Mountain West title game.
"Who knows how this thing is going to unfold in the next couple weeks?" he said.
Colorado State at Utah State
P Romney Stadium, Logan, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., TV • CBS Sports Network