COMMENTARY — Losses hurt. A loss to an instate rival that used to be an easy yearly win especially hurts. But revenge can be sweet.
Can the 2015 BYU Cougars payback the Utah State Aggies for last year’s painful 35-20 loss in Provo? The game, in Logan (1:30 p.m
. at Maverik Stadium broadcast on CBS-SN), is a great chance for BYU to finish the season strong and get even with the Aggies.
I guarantee that this game has been marked on the calendars of the coaches and players since last year. Flashback: BYU was off to a great 4-0 start and had broken in to the Top 25 polls (No. 18) when Utah State came into Provo and shocked them from the first whistle to the final gun.
The game single-handedly changed the course of the 2014 season for BYU, giving them a bad home loss while also knocking out Taysom Hill for the season. You could say that Utah State knocked the wind out of BYU’s sails last season.
The Cougars know that last year’s game changed the outcome of what had the potential to be a really special year for them and I’m sure that all the players that were present would like nothing more than some payback.
BYU is a three-point favorite this week, but that doesn’t mean much when you are playing in-state rivals who truly do not like each other!
This marks the 84th meeting (pre- and post-Wagon Wheel Trophy) and is a really heated and passionate rivalry. To say UUSU fans don’t like BYU is an understatement. The Aggies are pretty ,mediocre this year (6-5) and have already lost out on a chance for the Western Athletic Conference title, so this game could very well make their season.
The first meeting between these two programs was back in 1922. BYU leads the all-time series 46-35-3. The Cougars also lead the Wagon Wheel Trophy series 38-23.
Utah State has had some good wins this year and some bad losses, too. But head coach Matt Wells has done a good job of carrying on the tradition set forth by Gary Anderson and USU has a really solid program with a ton of fight to them.
This year’s Aggies almost have two faces, though. They stood tall at the U of U in a close game, losing 24-14. Then FCS team SUU came to Logan and almost beat Utah State, falling short at the end, 12-9. Of course, we know now that SUU is a playoff caliber I-AA team, but USU should have still handled them by a couple of touchdowns.
Hey, this Aggies team absolutely manhandled Boise State with an impressive 52-26 victory at home — a significant win as BYU fans know the Cougars were barely able to squeak out a last second win against the Broncos. It’s important to note that the Aggies five losses have all come on the road this year, including a 48-14 blowout loss to San Diego State in late October. Also significant: while USU is 5-0 at home, BYU is a very pedestrian 2-3 on the road.
Both teams started the year with high hopes, but crippling losses have left them playing for pride this late in the season. The Cougars are hoping to get to 10 wins (they’d need to beat USU and win a bowl game), while the Aggies are trying to stay above .500.
So which will show up motivated and with the intensity needed to capture a rivalry game? I will tell you this: both teams better bring their A-game if they want to win, because if one chooses to not show up, they will get beaten soundly.
BYU better be pulling out everything from its bag of tricks to make sure and get this win in Logan. Even though there is nothing outside of pride on the line here, this game means a lot to people both in and outside of the state of Utah. Both teams are bowl eligible and there is no conference championship for either team at stake, but a win here could help with in-state recruiting and end the regular season on a high note.
Having personally played USU up in Logan back in 2002 and barely walking away with a win (35-34), I can tell you that this game has all the potential to be the best game of the year in the state of Utah.
Both teams are going to bring a nasty attitude, so hopefully we are in for a spectacular show. It will be a true grudge match if both teams show up with solid game plans.
The Utah State Aggies and their fans do not like BYU and will do whatever they have to to try and get a win this Saturday. If BYU comes out playing like they did against Fresno State in the first quarter, I would say the Wagon Wheel will stay in Logan for another year!
The Cougars cannot afford to go into Logan and have a slow and lethargic start against a team that always finds a way to step up to the plate and swing hard.
One note on personnel in this game: Due to Utah State’s injuries from last week’s game vs. Nevada, there is uncertainty at the quarterback position, so BYU will have to be ready to see both sophomore Kent Myers and senior Chuckie Keeton. Like BYU’s Taysom Hill, Keeton has had an injury-filled career. It would be a storybook ending for the redshirt senior to close his collegiate experience with a win over a rival.
It’s clear to see that there is plenty on the line when these two teams square off in Logan Saturday afternoon. Most likely, both teams will be well-prepared and the game plans will be solid.
So, in a game like this, it really comes down to who wants it the most.
— BYU basketball is 2-1 after a win over Division II Adams State last week. The Cougars should cruise to a pair of wins this week as they host Mississippi Valley State (tonight, 7 p.m., BYUtv) and Belmont (Saturday, 7 p.m., BYUtv) at the Marriott Center.
Blue Blood is a sports column written by Scott Young and the opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of St. George News.
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