If college football gets pushed back and we are forced to have a shortened season due to COVID-19, what would an eight game schedule look like? Let’s look at the ideal situation for each of the FBS teams in Utah. Next up: The Utah State Aggies!
Utah State is in a unique situation because although it wouldn’t be hard to schedule the conference games, it will be difficult to decide which non-conference games to cut. They can play five teams in their division, one outside their division and two non-conference games. Let’s take a look at the most ideal schedule for them.
Week 1: @ BYU
USU will want to go out in Week 1 and “protect their dairy farm” better than last year. The Cougars beat the Aggies 14-42 in last years Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel. This year there are plenty of opportunities for a good rivalry game. This would be a good time to start just a month later than the season is scheduled to start. While the Utes and Cougars have kicked off the season a couple of times against each other, it’s been a while since Utah State and BYU have done the same. If the Aggies can improve their defense which struggled last year then the game should be closer. There hasn’t been a single digit game in this rivalry since 2012 when BYU won 6-3.
Week 2: vs Wazzu
Sources close to the Aggies speculate that the two games they wouldn’t drop on the schedule would be this game along with the BYU one previously mentioned. This wouldn’t be the toughest non-conference schedule but it won’t be a cake walk either. BYU looks like at least the second toughest non-conference game on the current schedule for the Aggies as the always tough Washington Huskies are usually the toughest. Wazzu would be a similar challenge to BYU. The Aggies would have a decent crack at winning a game vs a Power 5 opponent here.
Hawaii’s coach last year didn’t play the Aggies in the Mountain West but he will get another chance as he coaches Wazzu this season at Maverik Stadium. The Aggies will win this game if their home field advantage shows up as in year’s past. If the season starts late this game could likely be moved to the second week of October. They could keep that second Thursday game to hopefully get a good TV slot. This was going to be the season opener for both teams but with the chance to start the year as scheduled in an in-State rivalry that might be too good to pass up. Neither team would have much rest if this is the case. The Aggies would have 6 days rest and Washington would perhaps have 5 days. It will be interesting to see for sure as Utah State usually only beats Power 5 teams when they are playing at home.
The Aggies would most likely play all the 5 teams in their Mountain Division and 1 from the West Division. Their one west opponent could be Fresno State since it’s scheduled to be their home game. If they keep this schedule the rest of their season would look like this:
Week 3: @ Boise State
The Aggies still have work to do to reach the peak of the Mountain West in football. While they’ve reached the pinnacle in basketball, football has been tougher for them to do so with a perennial powerhouse in conference line Boise State. The Aggies will beat the Broncos again but it likely won’t be this year in Week 3 after two tough non-conference games right out of the gate. This will be a brutal schedule and the Aggies can hold their heads high if they can get at least one win in the first three weeks.
Week 4: vs New Mexico
The Aggies definitely have an easier latter half of the schedule and they certainly made quick work of the Lobos last year in Albuquerque to close out the regular season. While there will be a bright new head coach, Rome wasn’t built in one day. Coach Gary Andersen would be the firs to admit that. He didn’t coach a winning Aggies team in his first rodeo in Logan until his third year. Expect the Aggies to show up in their Mountain West home opener vs an easy team. This would be a good choice for the Homecoming game as it’s always good to win on that weekend.
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: @ Wyoming
The Cowboys have been good in years past and have played the Aggies close even in their best years. Expect this game to be close and come down to one play. If the Aggies make the play then they will win the Jim Bridger Rifle. If they lose then their season might just be on life support.
Week 7: vs Fresno State
Last year the game at Fresno State came down to one play and the USU kicker came up clutch. This year that kicker is no longer at Utah State as he is graduated and looking to make a splash in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. Expect the Aggies to win if they come and handle business at home.
Week 8: @ Colorado State
The Rams have played the Aggies close but have come up short the last couple years. If they catch USU napping this game could be an upset. The Aggies will have to respect CSU if they want to win.
Week 9: Air Force
Gary Andersen struggled to defend the triple option. If he’s going to beat Air Force this year the Aggies will need to have a much better game plan. The Aggies beat Air Force by 10 two years ago when Donovan Mitchell was in attendance. If the Aggies can get their offense rolling then they’ll be in great shape. If not then they’re toast. The triple option ran to perfection is like a torture chamber.
The best part about this schedule is the two home games they’d be dropping would be SUU and San Diego State. The attendance for those games probably weren’t expected to be as good for an FCS opponent and an Aztec team with a first year head coach. Utah State will lose some revenue but it definitely wouldn’t be as bad under this schedule as it would be if the entire season was cancelled.
Prediction: USU finishes 5-3 under this schedule with losses to Boise State, Air Force and Washington State. They will definitely need to split their non-conference games because they can’t expect to always win most of their Mountain West games like they did last year at 6-2 in the conference. They have to do better against a non-conference schedule. It would be nice for the Aggies to beat a P5 team in Logan but they’ve already proved they can do that.
They beat Wake Forest in 2014 and Utah in 2012. Washington State lost by 10 to Air Force in the Cheez It Bowl last year. While they will have a great coach in former Hawaii Coach Nick Rolovich, they are still closer to upper tier Mountain West schools than they are to being the best team in their own state.
If the Aggies split the non-conference, the Colorado teams and their main two conference rivals (Boise State and Wyoming) then they’ll be in good shape en route to another bowl bid.