The song “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker will never be the same.
With the recent news that BYU and Utah State are discontinuing their football series from 2023-2026, the Aggies have a few games to fill. Starting in 2023, the Aggies will need to start scheduling their fourth non-conference game.
The Aggies currently have a home contest against Idaho State on September 12, 2023. They also have road games at Iowa and UConn. Who would be the best team for Utah State to schedule? It’s time to look at some prime candidates.
1. A P5 team with an Opening
Before COVID happened, the Washington State Cougars were going to go to Logan to play the Aggies. That all changed, and USU struggled to only notch one win in 2020.
It was a different story in 2021. The Aggies pulled off a hard fought come-from-behind victory over the Washington State Cougars. The game winning pass from Logan Bonner to Derek Wright and the two point conversion attempt all but sealed the deal.
Cam Lampkin recently transferred from Utah State to Washington State. A game between the Aggies and the Washington State Cougars would be a fun reunion if Lampkin uses his final year of eligibility next year.
Aggie fans weren’t satisfied until the clock hit zero and the last minute kickoff return attempt was thwarted. They had sent their team blow games to too many P5 teams in past years. This would be a fun and rare opportunity to get a PAC-12 team in Maverick Stadium. Both teams would be evenly matched and hopefully provide another thrilling finish.
This game isn’t as likely to be played with the Cougars already having three non-conference games scheduled against Colorado State, Wisconsin and Northern Colorado. However, the Aggies should absolutely try to get a mid-level Power 5 team to beef up their strength of schedule. BYU has also had to cancel their game with Virginia. That’s another game the Aggies could schedule. Like they did with Wake Forest several years ago, the Aggies could notch a home game with the Cavaliers as long as they promise to make two road trips in return.
The problem is that Virginia and Tennessee just agreed to a game as the Volunteers bought out their 2023 matchup with BYU. The list of teams with an open date gets longer when a game is postponed this late in the game. Schedules are agreed upon years in advance.
2. Army Knights
On such short notice, it’s tough to find a G5 team with an opening. That’s why Utah State might look no further than an FBS Independent with rivalry ties to another Mountain West team.
The Army Knights play the Naval Academy of the American Conference and the Air Force Falcons of the Mountain West every year. They compete for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy that travels with the best record in this military school.
The Knights currently have 11 games scheduled for 2023, so they could fit the Aggies in with a November matchup. Perhaps this could be the start of a mini series with the Knights. The Aggies beat the Knights 23-7 in their only matchup on October 18, 1969.
Should the Aggies replace BYU with…… BYU?
It may sound confusing, but BYU hasn’t had the best week since using their escape clause on USU. Their marquee matchup with Tennessee was bought out. While it will be nice to have some cash in their pockets, the Cougars will be looking for a plan B. Could the Aggies agree to a game vs BYU right after the door seemed to close on that possibility?
One thing that BYU has done last year and has plans for this this year is a neutral site game in Las Vegas. While a game vs a P5 might draw more eyeballs, it may make sense to have the game in Vegas. It would be hard for both fan bases to compromise any home games to each other after the events that have transpired in the last week.
Both fan bases would flock to this game just like they did when BYU and Utah played each other in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2015. It’s a rivalry game so a great majority of fans would love to have it back.
They could have a little fun with the Las Vegas theme and decorate the trophy to look like a Jackpot wheel. Whichever teams capitalized on risks the best could take the trophy back to their place.
As of now, a matchup with Army seems the most likely scenario only because both teams have an opening and would be likely to agree to a deal. Don’t expect any of the military schools to give up their Commander-in-Chief trophy though if the Aggies win games over Air Force.
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