The entire town of Logan is like a lion's den right now.
And that is a shot across the bow that Boise State better bring the same intensity they displayed against Idaho.
The Aggies are eagerly anticipating the arrival of both #6 Boise State and the ESPN television crew. Friday night's game between Boise State and Utah State is one of the biggest things that has ever happened to Logan. It is the first time that ESPN has televised an Aggie home football game and Boise State ties Oregon as the highest-ranked team ever to play in Logan.
So the fans are thrilled with the possibilities. Does anyone remember the last ESPN road game that Boise State played? Boise State played a team that had recently hired a top-notch coach they are very excited about. He had the team playing hard. The town was pumped up about being featured on ESPN. The Broncos ran into a far underrated Louisiana Tech team that gave them a fight to the finish and consequently was responsible for Boise State dropping in the polls.
The situation Friday night will be no different.
Utah State has been energized with the hiring of Utah's Defensive Coordinator, Gary Anderson. He has invigorated the team with a dose of spunk, not to mention football smarts. Aggie fans have responded. Now the team has a chance to show what they can do on national television--every football player's dream! They are playing well and have surprised more than one team this season. Eerily similar to the situation in Ruston.
They played Utah very tough in September before the Utes scored a couple of second half touchdowns to win 35-17. Utah State lost 38-30 in College Station, Texas to Texas A & M. As everyone knows, that is a tough place to play. How about their game with Nevada? The Wolf Pack eked out a 35-32 win over the Aggies. That score right there should show Boise State's players that they better come out swinging. Utah State beat Louisiana Tech 23-21 and nearly beat Fresno State for the second straight year before falling 31-27.
Utah State is averaging 27.6 points a game this season, but even that's deceiving. The Aggies have installed a new offense that complements quarterback Diondre Borel very nicely. They run multiple sets that keep the defense guessing. Utah State is averaging 201.1 yards rushing per game, which is third in the Western Athletic Conference and by the way, significantly ahead of Boise State's 178.4 per game. Robert Turbin has gone over 1,000 yards rushing and is third in the league with a 112.2 yards per game average. What's more, USU is averaging 208.7 yards in passing, fourth in the WAC and right behind Boise State. Borel is third in the WAC in passing, throwing for over 230 yards per game. Borel's dual threat of running and passing puts him ahead of Colin Kaepernick in first place in the WAC with 274.8 yards of total offense per game. Dangerous indeed.
The Aggie defense is second only to Boise State with 11 interceptions this year, led by James Brindley's three. Utah State features two of the league's top tacklers, linebacker Bobby Wagner with 93 and defensive back Brindley with 63. Boise State's leading tackler, by comparison, is safety Jeron Johnson. Johnson is all the way back at #19 with 59 total tackles. Brindley also leads the conference in passes defended.
Utah State is second in turnover margin to Boise State as well. This reveals that not only do they not beat themselves, but their defense swarms to the ball, trying to strip the ball away for fumbles, and plays the receivers tight so an errant pass is picked off.
This game doesn't have to be close. But it will be and the Aggies can win if Boise State's players aren't ready to a man. This is an up-and-coming team to be sure. Don't be surprised if they beat Idaho next week. If Boise State doesn't come out playing their best football of the season, it is the Bronco players who will be surprised by the final result.