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Utah State vs BYU: Wagon Wheel Rivalry Preview

What looks like a blowout on paper could be closer than any of us expect.

At face value this game is meaningless. BYU is going to the Poinsettia Bowl regardless of the outcome of this game, and Utah State just wants to end this disappointing season. While the game will likely have no post-season impact, both teams crave a win, and Utah State more so to salvage a season where they will be missing out on an bowl game for the first time since 2010.

BYU is the only rivalry game Utah State gets to play this year, and you can bet the Aggies are going to play their hearts out. Finishing the season with a strong win against rival BYU would boost team morale.

On paper, a BYU win is almost guaranteed. The Cougars are 7-4, but could easily be undefeated as all their losses have come by three points or less, and a combined eight overall.

Meanwhile, Utah State is struggling. The Aggies are 3-8 and have faced devastating losses the past two weeks. On top of that, the Aggies have dropped 7 of their last 8 after starting the season 2-1. Utah State also has had close games with four of them coming by less than one touchdown, and had a few things gone differently the Aggies could be heading bowling and looking to improve their lot this week.

That being said, BYU shouldn’t overlook Utah State. The Aggies kept it close against Boise State and Air Force, and if Kent Myers gets going BYU could be upset. No game is a given, especially not a rivalry game.

Utah State will need to stop the running game of BYU as Jamaal Williams is expected to be back in the lineup after missing the previous few games, and he is on par with the likes of Brian Hill, Jeremy McNichols and Donnel Pumphrey.

Forcing the Cougars to throw is how the Aggies can hang around in this game and make Taysom Hill make some mistakes and turn the ball over.

Utah State on offense has their own issues due to their own running game being sub par. Tonny Lindsey stepped up last week wit over 100 yards but that was against a Nevada defense that can not stop the run. The BYU rush defense is much better and is 12th in the country. There is also the issue of starter Devante Mays still listed as game-time decision.

BYU is favored by 18.5 points which is a lot but the Aggies have not had a great year and the way for an upset is to stop BYU’s running game, make them pass and the Aggues themselves need to have a ground game to help out Kent Myers and the passing attack.

This game kicks at 8:15 p.m. MT on ESPNU.