With wins coming few and far between and home attendance dwindling, Utah State football coach Brent Guy, who is entering his fourth season, and the Aggies are facing a pivotal year, but at least the foundation for success is there.
The Aggies won their final two games both on the road in 2007 to finish the year 2-10, and for the first time since 1998 they will have six home games. Also, for the first time since 2002 the Aggies will play BYU and Utah at home, while for the first time since 1997, they will play three consecutive home games.
"I think it (the schedule) did balance out and is pretty favorable for us with the way the games fall," Guy said.
In Guy's most successful year in which the Aggies went 3-8, they won their first two home games against UNLV and San Jose State. Since beating San Jose State on Oct. 8, 2005, the Aggies have won only one home game and that was Oct. 7, 2006, against Fresno State.
The six home games are part of another difficult schedule in which the Aggies will face a total of seven teams which went to bowl games last year, and three teams which finished the year ranked in the Top 25 No. 14 BYU, No. 19 Hawaii and No. 23 Oregon.
"Fortunately, we've got a two-game winning streak on the road heading into our season opener at UNLV (Aug. 30) so we've got confidence that we can win on the road," Guy said. "It will be nice to be home for three games in a row."
The Aggies haven't won a season-opening game since beating Utah, 21-14, in Salt Lake City in 1997.
After opening the season at UNLV and Oregon this year, the Aggies return home for games with Utah, Idaho and BYU.
"We go from Utah to Idaho, and it will be interesting to see what happens right there (in terms of fan support)," he said.
In 2006, the Aggies played Utah at home and drew a crowd of 20,082. Two weeks later, after losing 38-0 at BYU, they hosted Idaho and drew just 8,618 spectators.
"That three-week stretch will tell us a lot about the home fans," Guy said.
The Aggies will have the first of two open dates between home games with Idaho at BYU.
At the same time, he knows the fan support will have a lot to do with how the Aggies fare in their first few games.
"Winning cures a lot of those things, and having home games helps," he said. "It gives them (fans) more opportunities to come."
Following the game with BYU on Friday, Oct. 3, the Aggies won't return home until Oct. 25 when they host Fresno State for the first of two straight home contests.
In all, Utah State will play at play two home games in September, October and November.
"It's really easy when you have BYU and Utah to say we'll have better attendance," he said. "We need to consistently bring people back, especially with our WAC games."The Aggies open November with a home game with Hawaii and then travel to Boise State and Louisiana Tech and have their second open date of the season before hosting New Mexico State in the season finale on Nov. 29.
Utah State 2008 football schedule
Aug. 30 at UNLV
Sept. 6 at Oregon
Sept. 13 Utah
Sept. 20 Idaho
Oct. 3 BYU
Oct. 11 at San Jose State
Oct. 18 at Nevada
Oct. 25 Fresno State
Nov. 1 Hawaii
Nov. 8 at Boise State
Nov. 15 at Louisiana Tech
Nov. 29 New Mexico St.
*home games in bold