The Mountain West Conference championship eluded the Utah State Aggies in the 2019 season. But they still have the opportunity to end the year with a trophy.
The Aggies (7-5) will get the chance at a bowl game in less than two weeks. USU will face Kent State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third consecutive season that USU will play in a bowl game.
Aggies coach Gary Andersen said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that he sees the game as an opportunity for his team to end 2019 on a high note after finishing third in the MWC. He also called it an “honor” to play in a bowl game.
“It’s a huge responsibility to prepare the right way and it’s a huge responsibility to play the right way — not just for your school, but for college football as a whole,” Andersen said. “These people are putting a bowl game together for us and they expect a football team to come in and play at a high level. That’s exactly how we’ll approach it.”
The Aggies had an up-and-down season, winning four fewer games than last season. But USU still went 6-2 in the Mountain West, making it bowl eligible.
In all, the Aggies have played in a bowl game eight of the last nine seasons. In 13 total bowl games, Utah State is 5-8.
The game against Kent State will be the first bowl game under Andersen since 2012, when Utah State played Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Andersen’s team, which finished No. 16 in the Associated Press poll that season, won that game.
The Golden Flashes finished 6-6 overall and 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference. They were involved in many close games — seven decided by eight points or less.
“Physical, tough-minded team,” Andersen said of Kent State. “Definitely made some strides this year to get themselves where they’re going. We’ll learn a lot more about them, but I know they play hard.”
Andersen said he has always had respect for the MAC and that Kent State becoming bowl eligible in that conference should be considered an accomplishment.
“To get bowl eligible in that conference is not easy,” Andersen said. “I know they’re a team that’s on the rise.”
It will be only the third time in USU history that it faces Kent State. The last time the two teams played was in 1974.
Kent State last competed in a bowl game in 2012, losing to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Andersen said his team is in relatively good health aside from a couple of “question marks.” He also said he’ll make sure to get some playing time for his younger players that still have a redshirt game available to them.
Utah State beat North Texas 52-13 in the New Mexico Bowl last season.