It's fun to be in a game that has this much on the outcome, this late in the year. Late November games are what football teams play for and fans want to be around. —Utah State coach Gary Anderson
LOGAN — Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen has been fond of using boxing metaphors for his team this year. He compares each game played to a round in a season-long fight. Everything up to this week, to extend the analogy a step further, has been the undercard, and Saturday afternoon in Ruston, La., is the heavyweight championship main event.
The Aggies (8-2, 4-0) travel to No. 19 Louisiana Tech (9-1, 4-0) with at least a share of the final Western Athletic Conference title going to the winner.
"We always had them kind of marked on our schedule coming from the offseason just because we knew it was one of the games we should have won last year, but to have it be on this magnitude where a WAC championship is kind of on the line is a great feeling," sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton said.
After tearing through conference play for the last four weeks, there couldn't be more on the line for Utah State this week. A win would bring the Aggies their first conference championship since sharing the Big West title in 1997 and give USU nine victories on the season, something that hasn't happened in Logan since 1961.
With a win this week and next week against Idaho, Utah State would enter uncharted territory. The school has never seen a 10-win football season and has not won a conference championship outright since going undefeated in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 1936.
On top of all that, the team has never beaten a ranked opponent on the road (0-39) and has just one win in 51 all-time games against Top 25 opponents.
"Obviously, the Louisiana Tech game is a huge game for the Aggies and a huge game for the Bulldogs," Andersen said. "It's fun to be in a game that has this much on the outcome, this late in the year. Late November games are what football teams play for and fans want to be around."
If styles make fights, then the Aggies and Bulldogs should make for quite the bout. On one side you have Louisiana Tech, perhaps the most explosive offense in the country. Quarterback Colby Cameron has thrown the ball 403 times for 3,283 yards and 27 touchdowns without throwing a single interception this year. As a team, the Bulldogs average a mind-boggling 53.4 points a game, the second-highest mark in the country.
In the other corner sits Utah State and the nation's 6th best scoring defense, giving up only 13.5 points a contest. The defense has allowed only six points in the first quarter in its 10 games, allowing the team to get out in front early and hold on to the lead.
While most of the attention will rightly be on the Aggie offense and Bulldog defense, the Utah State offense could hold the key to pulling off a road upset. Louisiana Tech has been far from a juggernaut on the other side of the ball, giving up more than 36 points a game. Texas State, a team that managed just seven points at Utah State the week before, put up 55 points on the Bulldogs just last week.
"Everything we've done throughout the summer and everything leading up to this point finally has a chance to show," senior running back Kerwynn Williams said.
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Utah State (8-2, 4-0) at Louisiana Tech (9-1, 4-0)
Saturday, 2 p.m. MST
Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, La.
TV: none Web: ESPN3 Radio: 97.5 FM, 95.9