By: Daniel Olsen
(Featured Photo credited to the The Utah Statesman)
Here is a fun fact for you: What happens in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas. 40 million tourists per year in Vegas come and actually don’t stay. They actually fly home and continue to live average lives. All that stays in Vegas are the casinos, the booze and the babes. Don’t forget the Vegas lights either. The MGM Grand alone has an electric bill of 350 grand per month.
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels would like nothing more to make a greater splash on Utah State’s Homecoming parade than the Bellagio fountains. However, even with a talented running back in Lexington Thomas, it’s hard for one guy to beat a complete team on the road. Keep in mind that the Utah State football team has also won three straight games. UNLV just got thrashed by New Mexico by 36 points.
Yes, the Aggies are banged up at a couple of positions but that’s ok. It’s a next man up mentality for the blue and white. Dax Raymond has some broken bones in his hand and will be out for a few weeks. That doesn’t matter. It’s the perfect time to ride a mostly easy schedule until the Aggies face Boise in their finale. They may want to have all their guns against Hawaii if those Rainbow Warriors continue the pace that they began the season with.
Keys to Victory:
Defense: Stop the run
BYU came into the Battle for The Old Wagon Wheel last Friday night averaging over 100 yards per game. They couldn’t even get 40 yards on the run vs the vaunted Aggie defense.
BYU was a running team and then USU happened. New Mexico State was the better group of Aggies in the Arizona Bowl and then 2018 USU happened. Tennessee Tech came in wanting to compete respectably with an FBS school and then 73-12 happened. Basically the Aggies are good but as they’ve learned in the past, they can’t let up in conference play. Look what happened after they doubled Boise’s score in 2015 or beat BYU in 2017. Ls all around.
However, this isn’t the year to do that. The schedule is easier than it’s ever been for the Aggies. Next year they have to face San Diego AND Fresno. This year they only get the ugly duckling of California, the San “No Way Jose” Spartans. Wyoming doesn’t have Josh Allen. It hasn’t looked this easy for a long time. Basically the Aggies have to keep that Warrior mentality and win the close ones like they did against Air Force. If not then they will look like BYU post Wisconsin. Yikes. That’s football. Play tough and respect every opponent. When teams let up that’s how an FBS loses to an FCS or a Power 5 loses to a Group of 5 school. The Aggies better practice what The Hurd student section preaches and believe that they will win. It’s worked so far and it will continue to work if they take these keys and start their engines.
Special Teams Key: Be the new Aggies
Don’t muff punts on Homecoming like you did in 2011. Don’t fail to recover an onside kick like you did to the defending champion Auburn Tigers also in 2011. Don’t miss game winning field goals like you did in 2012.
Instead, try returning a punt for a touchdown like you did this year, or return a kickoff for a touchdown like you did this year. Make 100% of your field goals and PATs like you have so far this year.
Basically, keep being the same Aggies you’ve been all year on special teams. No need to revert to the old losing ways of the past. With this recipe there is no way the Aggies can lose to a struggling UNLV team. Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas might be more of a scare than these Runnin’ Rebels.
The Bowling For Soup band might have written a song about how they “Almost made out with the Homecoming queen” but this Utah State Football team better hope the A in Aggies doesn’t stand for Almost. After all so far the A for the 2018 Aggies stands for Awesome.