Five years ago the Aggies lost to the Wisconsin Badgers by only two points. The Aggies would have their best season in school history as they won a WAC title and their only other loss was to BYU by three points. 11 wins with two losses by a combined total of 5 points isn’t bad at all.
This year the Aggies aren’t poised to have their best season ever. The Mountain West is tougher than it was in their final year in the WAC where small teams like Texas State and UTSA filled in for one final year of WAC football.
Look at what Colorado State did to former USU coach Gary Andersen in his shiny new PAC-12 coaching gig at Oregon State. Absolute massacre. Boise State is predicted to be good. San Diego State looks as good as ever in the West division and Josh Allen looks poised to be a Dark Horse Heisman contender.
Right now though the Aggies can start off right if they play like the Aggies of five years ago that at least put themselves in position to win. In 2011 the Aggies had a 10 point lead on the defending champion Auburn Tigers. They lost it but that doesn’t negate the fact that their offense and defense put them in position to win and the special teams simply snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The 2012 Wisconsin game was a similar story. In 2013 the Aggies lost to USC by a field goal and Nick Diaz happened to miss a 37 yard one early in the game that would have tied it. USC also missed a field goal in that game but the underdog on the road has to be perfect to exploit any errors that the home team makes.
Fast forward to 2014. While Utah State had a great double digit win season ending in a Mountain Division title, a close loss in the conference championship and a bowl win over a ranked team, they failed miserably in the money season opener game against Tennessee. The final score was 38 to 7. 2015 was similar in a two touchdown loss to Washington and in 2016 they were massacred by USC 7 to 45.
Keys to victory:
1. Be Perfect: As previously stated the Aggies have to play nearly perfect especially in crunch time. This opponent is bigger, stronger and faster. USU will need to be great on offense, defense AND special teams. Coach Matt Wells needs to be on his A game as well as the rest of the coaching staff and the players.
2. David Yost must provide sunshine for the offense: Utah State’s success has lately been built on a solid running game and one of the toughest defenses in the Wild West. However, previous mediocre offensive coordinators like Dave Baldwin haven’t given a lot of spark to the passing game. David Yost must keep the long “Sunshine” hair out of his eyes and take a good look at the playbook. Building a solid running game is good but it’s also important to be adaptable.
3. Next man up mentality: There will be injuries since the opponent is very big and physical. NFL beasts like JJ Watt graduated from Wisconsin. Every backup needs to be ready if their name is called. One big hit and Kent Myers could have the same fate as his former Heisman candidate teammate Chuckie Keaton. Backup quarterbacks Jordan Love and DJ Nelson could be very important to the success of this season.
It’s going to be a difficult game and this year the Aggies will surprise even the most passionate super fans if they can pull off the victory. The prediction here is that the Aggies will be in the game the whole time if they don’t get down early. If they get down early which they certainly will if they start out like they did against Tennessee and USC then they will be playing catchup.
For the sake of Aggie Nation hopefully this is wrong but the prediction is this will be a mini blowout. It won’t be as bad as the last few years but it won’t be as good as the Wisconsin game 5 years ago.
Final Prediction: USU: 17 Wisconsin 34