It has been 38 years since Utah State has beaten both Utah and BYU in the same season. The Aggies have a chance to do it again this year when they travel down to Provo to take on the Cougars Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
After losing 20 of 21 games to the Cougars, Utah State finally broke through with a resounding 31-16 victory in Logan in 2010. Last year, Utah State was in control for most of the game until Riley Nelson led an incredible comeback, scoring on a tipped pass in the final seconds of a 27-24 victory. Even though Utah State has not won in Provo since 1978, a stretch of 16 games, it seems this series has developed into a fierce rivalry once again.
"I think we've played the last couple of years to put this game into a rivalry game," said Aggies head coach Gary Andersen. "It's not just an in-state game anymore and our kids are excited about the opportunity."
“I am looking forward to it," added safety McKade Brady. "They were able to a make a few more plays down the stretch than we were last year and took the game. So we are looking forward to the challenge, we know that it is a tough place to play and I think we will be ready.”
“Well it’s going to be a big game, it always is,” said wide receiver Chuck Jacobs.
Utah State's 4-1 record is its best since winning its first five games of the 1978 season. Their success has caught a lot of people off guard, but not the Cougars. They have seen first hand the first of the Aggie program.
"We knew they would be a good team," said BYU leading receiver Cody Hoffman. "Now we know what to expect from them since they're bringing a lot of players back, so we're going to be prepared this year."
"That game last year was a dogfight," said Cougars wide receiver Ross Apo. "It came down to the last play, so it might be the same this year."
Utah State has averaged over 28 points per game this year, and is one missed field goal away at Wisconsin from being undefeated. But BYU is the best defense the Aggies have faced all season. The Cougars have not surrendered an offensive touchdown in nine straight quarters.
"They are very physical on defense," said Andersen. "They are very well coached on defense. They run to the ball and they make plays. Their numbers are backed up with their performance on the field. So, it will be a tremendous challenge for our offense and it will be a good challenge from A-to-Z on the offensive side of the football. Not a lot of weaknesses in that defensive system.”
With the BYU quarterback situation still up in the air, Andersen is preparing for both Riley Nelson and Taysom Hill.
"Both quarterbacks are good quarterbacks," Andersen said. "We will prepare the same way for both quarterbacks. There is a little bit more option face possibly now if Riley does not play because it's a healthy quarterback that can run very well."
This is the second straight year Utah State has played BYU in Provo, so Andersen hopes to play the Cougars in Logan more often in the future.
"Hopefully this is the last time we have to go back there two times in a row," said Andersen. "It's a very difficult place to play. I think we go every year to very difficult venues, but from what I hear none of them match BYU’s stadium or Utah’s Stadium. I know it goes the same way about our place because they don't want to come here and play us anymore, obviously."
Kickoff at LaVell Edwards Stadium is set for 8:15 p.m. Friday night.