Mountain West Welcome: A Utah State Primer
Attention Mountain West Fans:
On July 1, your conference officially expands to 12 football teams with the addition of San Jose State and Utah State.
As a true fan, it is your responsibility to know the nature of your enemy. After all, you don’t want to be the guy sitting at the bar or at the game wondering where the Aggies or the Spartans came from.
We’re here to help. If you missed it, we got you up to speed on SJSU earlier in the week.
Here’s your cheat sheet for the reigning WAC champion Utah State Aggies.
Inaugural season: 1892
All-time record: 504-509-31
Home stadium: Romney Stadium, capacity 25,513
Rival: Utah (Utah leads 77-29-4)
Head Coach: Matt Wells (1st season with USU)
Random fact: The playing surface at Romney Stadium was named after Merlin Olsen in 2009. Olsen won the Outland Trophy in 1961 and was a two-time All-American at USU before going on to a Hall of Fame NFL career. His occasional visits to Ron Burgundy’s apartment apparently didn’t factor into the decision to name the field after him.
Recent history: The Aggies' 11-2 season last year shouldn’t have come as such a shock. They’ve shown slow, steady improvement since their one-win campaign in 2006, winning two games in 2007, three in 2008, four in 2009 and 2010 and seven in 2011.
USU's two losses in 2012 were by a total of five points to Wisconsin and BYU.
Player you need to fear: Chuckie Keeton. The Aggies' signal-caller is the true definition of a dual-threat quarterback. Last season he threw for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns and ran for another 619. There’s a reason he’s getting whispers on some preseason Heisman watch lists. Since Keeton is only entering his junior year, he should only get better.
USU is sneaky good at: Offensive line play. Having a mobile quarterback always helps an O-line look good, but the boys at USU can control the line of scrimmage. The Aggies have three returning starters that were All-WAC selections last season, including Tyler Larsen, who was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list for the most outstanding center in the country. Football.com’s Ken Pomponio has them rated as the top offensive line in the MWC heading into the season.
Sound like a TV analyst in front of your friends by saying: “Utah State could be better than they were last year, but wind up losing more games. They have a brutal four-game stretch where they play at USC and San Jose State, then come home to host BYU and Boise State. You’d have to think going 2-2 would be the best case scenario.”
How good can they be? The Aggies can certainly contend with Boise State in the Mountain Division. They’re that talented. They'll need an All-American kind of season from Keeton, as well as a repeat of last year’s defensive dominance. USU only surrendered 15.4 points per game in 2012.