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Aggie Analysis: A Look Back at 2018

With underwhelming expectations, the Aggies explode for 11 wins and a bowl game win

NCAA Football: Utah State at Brigham Young Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, college football fans always have at least some level of elevated expectations for their team. Whether it’s fighting for a National Championship, a Conference title, bowl eligibility, or just some damn respect. After a middling 6-7 record in the 2017-18 season for the Utah State Aggies, fans came into this year in a precarious spot. Does this team have what it takes to win a few extra games and challenge for the division/conference title? Is it still just a six win squad? Do things go backwards? The product USU put out on the field this year, I would say without a doubt, obliterated any fan’s conservative expectations.

The 2018 season was a wild ride for the Utah State football team. From a close loss to Michigan State, to a wild 10-game win streak, to a miraculous win in Fort Collins, to a bummer in Boise, culminating with a thumping of North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl. Let’s look a little bit closer into the regular season, broken down into three game chunks:

August 31st – September 13th

L 38 – 31 @ Michigan State

W 60 -13 vs New Mexico State

W 73 – 12 vs Tennessee Tech

The beginning to the 2018 campaign was not an easy one, as the Aggies found themselves in East Lansing, Michigan to take on the Michigan State Spartans on national television. The Aggies may have left with a loss, but they gave the world of college football something to think about: maybe that school tucked into the mountains of Logan, Utah is pretty good at football.

After getting sweet revenge on NMSU with a 60-13 thrashing for their first win of the season, the Aggies followed it up with a 73 point obliteration of FCS Tennessee Tech. It was the first time in program history that the team scored 60+ points in consecutive weeks.

September 22nd – October 13th

W 42 – 32 vs Air Force

W 45 – 20 @ BYU

W 59 – 28 vs UNLV

Conference play began with a solid victory over Air Force, a game in which the Falcons could never seem to go away. Then came the big rivalry game with BYU for the Old Wagon Wheel. The Cougars had recently beaten Big Ten favorite Wisconsin and had a lot of confidence coming into this game, but it was quickly swept away as the Aggies ran through the Cougs in every phase of the game. After a tune up victory over the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, it was time for the first road game of conference play.

October 20th – November 3rd

W 24 – 16 @ Wyoming

W 61 – 19 vs New Mexico

W 56 – 17 @ Hawai’i

The Wyoming game wasn’t pretty, as the USU passing game couldn’t do anything against the Cowboys defense. Darwin Thompson saved the day for the Aggies, rushing for 109 yards and two scores. After another swift victory in Logan over the Lobos, the Aggies headed on the biennial trip to Honolulu to take on the Rainbow Warriors. I’ll admit I was worried that the pedestrian Aggies defense might break under the arm of Cole McDonald, but alas, I was proven wrong. The Aggies again dominated, posting an odd 28-0-28-0 box score in the 56-17 victory.

November 10th – November 24th

W 62 – 24 vs San Jose State

W 29 – 24 @ Colorado State

L 33 -24 @ Boise State

Coming down the home stretch, the hype was building. This could be the year Utah State gets over the hump and wins the Mountain Division title. After a solid victory over a hapless San Jose State squad on Senior Day, the Aggies headed to Fort Collins to take on the Rams of Colorado State. If you don’t know how that game ended you’re missing out. Here’s how it unfolded:

After that miraculous win, it came down to a showdown in Boise for the division title. Unfortunately for the Aggies, BSU had their number. Broncos runningback Alex Mattison had an enormous performance, rushing for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

So, the Aggies fell short of a division title, but they ended the season an astounding 11-2. They cleared all expectations and then some. With the returns of former Coach Gary Andersen and electric QB Jordan Love, along with many other talented playmakers from this season’s team, 2019 is shaping up to be a big one for the Aggies.

What was it I was saying about expectations?