Utah State football: Wyoming last roadblock to title game
Logan • Like many Utah State players and fans, Jake Doughty was keeping track of the Boise State-San Diego State game, watching with his parents to see if the Aztecs could help the Aggies take the lead in the Mountain Division.
Apparently, the suspense wasn't too titillating Doughty said he fell asleep in the fourth quarter.
But when he woke up in the morning to see texts and missed calls, he understood it was a new day for the Utah State football team.
"I missed an exciting game, especially the end of it," the senior linebacker said with a guffaw. "It feels good. It's like we have all the cards back in our hands. Before, we kind of had to wait for something to happen, for Boise to get knocked off. Now, our future's ours again."
With some help from San Diego State, the Aggies (7-4, 6-1) are now in sole possession of first place in the Mountain Division.
Utah State announced a new rivalry trophy with Wyoming (a .50-caliber rifle will go to the winner of Saturday's newly minted "Bridger's Battle"). But the real prize on the line for Utah State is a chance to go to the Mountain West title game on Dec. 7 at Fresno State.
The Aggies open as 20.5-point favorites for their final game at Romney Stadium. No one, however, is taking that contest for granted.
"We'll narrow the focus down really, really quick," coach Matt Wells said. "It will be simply to finish the drill, be 1-0 against Wyoming and we'll look up Saturday and figure out what we're going to do next week."
Much like the Aggies' last win against Colorado State, the challenge against the Cowboys will be to avoid a shootout. That's just the kind of game Wyoming likes to play with the No. 13-ranked offense in the country. The Cowboys can run and pass with near equal efficiency, and quarterback Brett Smith is good at both as well.
Wyoming's defense has been abysmal this year, and the team has already fired the defensive coordinator it started with. But the offense has been able to overcome those shortcomings in a number of games: Against Hawaii last week, the Cowboys escaped with a 59-56 overtime win in which they put up 793 yards on offense. Smith threw for 498 yards and ran for 142, accounting for eight touchdowns.
Even against the winless Rainbow Warriors, those numbers have gotten Utah State's attention.
"We've got our hands full," Doughty said. "A big part of this game is just stopping the run. We'll go from there."
Saturday's contest will also mark the last time the Utah State seniors will play at Romney Stadium. Senior Day will mark the last home game for a group that has won a program-record 29 games in the past four years, going for its 30th victory.
Wells said this season, one in which Utah State has already overcome significant adversity, particularly with injuries, should be an enduring legacy.
"You'll look back and remember them as the guys who continued to move forward," he said. "They moved our team forward when times were tough with injuries, the adversity, the back-to-back losses at home, 'Oh my goodness, the sky is falling,' and all those kinds of things that everybody on the outside wanted to bring in. Our guys just refused to listen, and it was led by this class."
Wyoming atUtah State
P Saturday, noon
TV • CBS Sports Network
• USU can clinch a spot in the conference championship game with another win.
• Utah State, Wyoming announce new rivalry trophy, the Bridger's Battle rifle.
• Cowboys scored 59 points, had 793 offensive yards in last game.