The Aggies lost four key offensive starter to season-ending injuries. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton, running back Joe Hill, tight end D.J. Tialavea and offensive lineman Kyle Whimpey all went down, and it looked like the season would go down with them.
But after rallying for consecutive blowout wins over New Mexico and Hawaii, the Aggies are still in contention for the Mountain West Conference championship.
"We're in November and we're in the Mountain West race," said head coach Matt Wells. "We're right where we want to be. It'a a little bit different avenue. We had some road blocks, we had some potholes, we had revamp the plan, we had to pull together after facing a lot of adversity. But here we are, 4-1 in the Mountain West and we're right in the middle of the race."
Freshman quarterback Darrell Garretson has blossomed in the last two games. Against Hawaii, Garretson set a freshman school record with 370 yards passing and three touchdowns. Joey DeMartino has run the ball extremely effectively, piling up 272 yards the last two games while scoring five touchdowns.
The Utah State defense has also been a huge part of the recent turnaround. The Aggies are 16th in the nation in scoring defense, led by sophomore Kyler Fackrell, who returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown last week.
"It was an awesome effort from the whole defense," said Fackrell. "I had a whole crowd of teammates around me looking to block somebody. They were all running down the field celebrating with me. It was awesome."
Utah State plays at UNLV this Saturday before closing with home games against Wyoming and Colorado State. The Aggies need to win out and have Boise State lose in order to have a chance to play for the Mountain West championship.
But at the very least, one more victory will make them bowl eligible for the third straight season, something that has never happened before.
"It would be huge for the program," said Wells. "I mean, back to back to back bowl games? First time ever in 121 years of Utah State football history, so that would be awesome."
The Aggies and Rebels kick off in Las Vegas Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.