The spotlight shines on Logan tonight as the Aggies host the Utes. Ricky Rothstein previews the big game.
A Historic Rivalry This will be the 100th meeting between the Aggies and Utes in a rivalry that dates back to 1892. The Utes have dominated recently, winning each of the last 12 matchups and 20 of the last 22. This will be the first Battle of the Brothers in three years. Sports Interaction’s odds list the Utes as 7-point favorites with a 52.5-point total.
Ties That Bind You don’t have to look far to find connections between the Aggies and Utes. Utah State head coach Gary Andersen played two years at Utah and then spent 11 years on the team’s coaching staff before taking the reins at Utah State. He remains friends with Utes coach Kyle Whittingham. Aggies associate head coach Bill Busch also coached Utah’s defensive backs for three years and Utah State assistant head coach Mike Stanford served as Utah’s defensive coordinator in the past. Meanwhile, Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake squares off against Andersen, who was his mentor at Southern Utah University and later at Utah.
Getting Defensive Utah opened its season with a 41-0 blanking of Northern Colorado, which failed to cross midfield and finished with only 114 total yards on the day. Utah State, meanwhile, jumped out to a 21-0 lead over Southern Utah by halftime and cruised to a 34-3 victory last week. Southern Utah converted only three of its 15 third-down attempts and finished with just 209 total yards.
Great Expectations Despite Utah’s blowout win last week, Whittingham wasn’t thrilled about his offence’s performance. Quarterback Jordan Wynn was picked off once and missed a couple deep throws. After the game Whittingham told reporters he expected his team’s attack to be more “explosive.” Utah State had no such problems in its blowout. The Aggies scored three touchdowns of more than 27 yards and piled up 569 yards of total offence.
Back in the Saddle Utah State sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton has regained his starting spot after sitting out the last five games of last year due to injury. It doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat so far. Keeton, who nearly led the Aggies to a season-opening upset of Auburn in 2011, passed for 304 yards and two touchdowns last week. Sophomore running back Joe Hill made Keeton’s job a lot easier by rumbling for 119 yards and three scores.
The Prediction If the Aggies are ever going to give the Utes a run for their money, this is their chance. They’re playing at home in a nationally-televised contest and they’re desperate to end their slump in this rivalry. Utah’s offense looked a little tentative early last week and if Hill can keep the Utes defence honest with some solid runs, the Aggies will be in this game. Prediction: Utes 27, Aggies 24
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