Utah State will be going from zero to 60 in four weeks, but it will feel more like four seconds.
The Mountain West Conference released its football schedule Thursday and the Aggies will open the abbreviated season at defending league champion Boise State on Oct. 24.
That gives the Aggies, the third-place finisher last year in the Mountain Division behind the undefeated Broncos, just less than four weeks to prepare for perhaps its biggest game of the season. Both teams officially began practice Friday, the day the MW announced it would have a season after securing a deal with Quest Diagnostics for the rapid testing of players. Players will be tested for COVID-19 three times a week.
The second week doesn’t get much easier for the Aggies. USU will host its first game of the season at Maverik Stadium against San Diego State on Oct. 31. The Aggies expect to have a limited number of fans in attendance at the game against the Aztecs, the runner-up last year to Hawaii in the MW’s West Division.
Assuming no interruptions due to COVID-19, USU will follow those two barn busters with games at Nevada (Nov. 7), vs. Fresno State (Nov. 14), at Wyoming (Nov. 21), vs. New Mexico (Nov. 28) vs. Air Force Academy (Dec. 5) and at Colorado State (Dec. 12).
All dates are tentative, as CBS Sports and FOX Sports have the option to shift matchups to the Thursday or Friday of the week in which they are scheduled.
The conference championship is scheduled for Dec. 19. It will feature the two teams with the best conference winning percentage and will be hosted by the team with the best winning percentage.
“We are excited to get our student-athletes back on the football field this fall,” commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “The shift away from a two-division format was necessary to optimize the schedule and allow for maximum flexibility given the various constraints which had to be considered.”
As expected, the schedule has no wiggle room for issues such as outbreaks and the tightening of local regulations that may arise during a season disrupted by the coronavirus.
“Inasmuch as the season begins with an uneven number of conference games, and the possibility exists additional games may be lost to COVID-19 challenges," Thompson said, "the procedures for determining the participants in and location for the MW Football Championship Game were adapted to accommodate a range of outcomes in as equitable a fashion as possible.”
UTAH STATE’S 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All times TBD. Dates subject to change.
Oct. 24 at Boise State
Oct. 31 San Diego State
Nov. 7 at Nevada
Nov. 14 Fresno State
Nov. 21 at Wyoming
Nov. 28 New Mexico
Dec. 5 Air Force
Dec. 12 at Colorado State