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What’s Next for Utah State: Schedule Edition

A look into what the Spring schedule may look like if the Aggies have the opportunity to play football in Spring 2021

NCAA Football: Frisco Bowl-Utah State vs Kent State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

While it is unknown at this point whether a 2021 college football season in the Spring will be possibly for the conferences that opted out of playing this fall, it is still interesting to speculate what the college football schedules for teams may have looked like. There are some interesting scenarios as to how the Aggies schedule might look in the near future.

8 + 2 Schedule

This was the original plan that the Mountain West had, eight conference games and two non conference. The PAC-12 and BIG-10 have delayed their football seasons as well, in addition to the MAC, so it is possible that the Aggies find two non-conference games from those conferences. The MAC does seem a little unlikely because if non-conference games are going to be played, Mountain West schools will especially be looking for ways to gain back some revenue lost from not playing a fall football season. In the case that two conference games are allowed, it makes most sense for Utah State to play two teams from the PAC-12 because it is geographically closer to Utah State. One of the opponents that Utah State could play is in state rival Utah for the first time since 2015, and this would be a good choice because the teams have a lot of history together and would likely provide a lot of meaning for the players. Another opponent that Utah State could add onto the schedule from the PAC-12 is Washington State, the game that was originally slated to be the Aggies season opener for the 2020 season. This game was already anticipated and if circumstances in the Spring are better than they are now, there could be potentially more fans in the stadium for a big time game for the Aggies. Another possibility is to play BYU, if the Cougars make the decision to postpone football until the Spring. This is unlikely, however, because the Cougars are already scheduling more opponents (most recently Army) to account for the lost opponents. So in the case of an eight plus two schedule, it may look something like this:

vs. Washington State

at Utah

vs SDSU*

at Boise State*

vs New Mexico*

at Nevada*

at Wyoming*

vs Fresno State*

at Colorado State*

vs Air Force*

-Home games in bold

-Conference games *

8 + 1 Schedule

If the possibility of playing two non-conference games seems unlikely due to COVID-19 or to preparations for the 2021 Fall Season, then maybe there is a chance that one non-conference game can be played. If this is the case and if the PAC-12 also decides to play a non-conference game, then the obvious choice would be for Utah State to play Utah since it is a in state game and there is a history between the two teams. This might turn into a home game for the Aggies since they only have four home games currently on the schedule, which are all conference games. In this case, the scenario may look something like this:

vs Utah

vs SDSU*

at Boise State*

vs New Mexico*

at Nevada*

at Wyoming*

vs Fresno State*

at Colorado State*

vs Air Force*

-Home games in bold

-Conference games *

8 Game Conference Only Schedule

While it may be no fun to admit it, the eight game conference only schedule seems like the most likely outcome. The reason for this isn’t necessarily because the Mountain West decides to play conference only games (which they might), it could also be because the PAC-12, Big-10, and MAC all decide to play conference only games, leaving Utah State with no non-conference opponents unless playing an FCS opponent is considered. The season opener would then become San Diego State followed by a road trip to Boise State, which is not an ideal way to start out a conference schedule for the Aggies. Teams tend to be trying to figure themselves out early in the season, and with two very difficult conference games against San Diego State and Boise State, Utah State could struggle early. The conference only schedule may look something like this:

vs San Diego State*

at Boise State*

vs New Mexico*

at Nevada*

at Wyoming*

vs Fresno State*

at Colorado State*

vs Air Force*

-Home games in bold

-Conference games *

5 or 6 Game Conference Schedule

This is another option if there is a time crunch between the Spring season and the 2021 Fall season, however it is also an option that may result in more players deciding to opt out for the season due to the lack of opponents. In this case, there would be division only games or division only games with one cross-over game. If there was only one cross over game, things could get interesting for the Aggies as they may not have to play San Diego State and Boise State back to back. There are a number of possible match ups for Utah State in the West division so let’s assume that the Aggies do keep San Diego State on the schedule since it would be a home game. If the San Diego State game is not kept, then the Aggies are left with one home game on the schedule.

vs San Diego State*

at Boise State*

at Wyoming*

at Colorado State*

vs Air Force*

-Home games in bold

-Conference games have a *

The Air Force Problem

Things could become even more interesting in the Mountain Division race if Air Force is not participating in the division this year. While no official word has come from the Academy, there is speculation that Air Force may decide to play the military academies for their football season instead of participating in the Spring to honor the rich traditions in those rivalry games between Navy and Army. Air Force is considered to be one of the top contender for the division title this year, so if Air Force does not participate that makes more room for teams such as Boise State, Wyoming and Utah State. In this case, assuming that the Mountain West plays a full conference slate, Utah State would most likely have to replace Air Force with a West Division opponent. Utah State is already slated to play San Diego State, Nevada and Fresno State so the possible opponents to replace Air Force if it comes down to it are Hawaii or UNLV since neither team plays Air Force.

vs San Diego State*

at Boise State*

vs New Mexico*

at Nevada*

at Wyoming*

vs Fresno State*

at Colorado State*

vs UNLV OR Hawaii*

-Home games in bold

-Conference games in *

What Should Happen?

There is a couple of different ideas for the format of a Spring college football season with the 2021 season in mind. An eight plus two conference schedule or even an eight plus one should be entirely possible because conferences play from state to state and it seems unreasonable that Utah can’t play a in state opponent such as Utah State but Utah can play at Washington State, which is a game that is much further away when considering traveling. In addition, Mountain West teams especially could use the revenue generated from playing a PAC-12 team and the PAC-12 teams may also benefit. This could also create match ups that teams could get excited for such as USC vs Boise State, Utah vs Utah State, or even Cal vs San Diego State. This would create excitement in what might otherwise seem like a dull Spring season.

What Will Probably Happen:

While it would be fun and exciting to see a couple of Mountain West vs. PAC-12 games, it does seem more probable and realistic that conferences that play football in the Spring will go conference only. For one, nobody knows if the COVID-19 situation will be better in the Spring than it is now. For another, it will be difficult to play more than eight games in the Spring because of the timing. There would be little time for players going into the NFL to prepare for the draft if they decide to play the Spring season and players returning next fall would have a very quick turnaround, so it is more realistic for conferences to play an eight game conference schedule. The Mountain West has not released any details about how they plan to move forward with Spring football, but more information will come as the Mountain West discusses and finalizes plans.