For those in retirement homes, many of these Old Wagon Wheel battles come to mind. For the younger generation of Cougars and Aggies, only a handful of games come to mind.
Older Aggie fans remember the “Golden Years” before 1974 when this rivalry was mostly dominated by Utah State University. The Wagon Wheel trophy first appeared in this in state series in 1948. In this era, Utah State won the Old Wagon Wheel 17 times and BYU won 10 times.
Since 1974, BYU has only lost the trophy five times while winning thirty times. Much of this can be attributed to former Cougar head coach Lavell Edwards, who the BYU stadium is named after.
Aggie fans have been hoping for a similar resurgence ever since former head Coach Gary Andersen turned the program around. Andersen guided the Aggies to two bowl games and rivalry wins over BYU (2010) and the University of Utah (2012).
Current head coach Matt Wells will guide the Aggies to their first season of bowl ineligibility in 6 years. He did get the Aggies to the Mountain West conference championship in their first year in the league and he has beaten BYU once so far.
Here are the top 5 rivalry games in the series in recent memory:
- 2011: This is the biggest game winner in recent memory. Riley Nelson guided the Cougars the full length of the field to save the Cougars from a lackluster performance by Jake Heaps. The tipped ball that was caught in the end zone still stings the Aggies as Riley Nelson played for Logan High School which is a few miles away from the University. Riley even played for Utah State before his LDS mission. He made a change and this 27-24 victory doesn’t make him very popular in Logan, despite the state championship he won for the Logan High Grizzlies in 2005
- This has to go to the 2014 matchup in Provo. BYU entered the game undefeated and USU was without its starting quarterback. The Cougars were heavily favored until their starting quarterback Taysom Hill went down with an injury. This was sweet vengeance for the Aggies as BYU injured their quarterback the year before. The Aggies seized the opportunity and won 35-20.
- 2010: Utah State beat BYU for the first time in 17 years. This was the turning point as a rivalry isn’t real until the underdog starts winning games. USU won 31-16 in Logan and proved that sometimes the little brother is tired of being picked on.
- 2008: This was a lopsided game in the first quarter as BYU started with a 24-0 lead. Utah State outscored the Cougars in the final three quarters, 14-10 but the final score remained in favor of the Cougars, 34-14.
- 2012: This was a battle of two nationally ranked defenses. It’s easy for the score of games like these to be low and such was the case in this matchup. BYU won the game 6-3.