Utah State report card: Aggies make enough plays to earn enormous win over Louisiana Tech
Utah State (9-2, 5-0 WAC) incredibly stands just one win away from its first outright conference championship in 33 seasons. The Aggies' 48-41 overtime win over Louisiana Tech (9-2, 4-1) marks one of 10 best offensive performances in USU history. It's also the Aggies' first win over a ranked team since 1991 (against Fresno State), as they improved their record to 2-50 against Top 25 teams. Saturday's win is USU's first ever road victory over a ranked team.
OFFENSE: Nineteen-year-old quarterback Chuckie Keeton (20-of-34, 340 yards, 2 touchdowns) threw for more than 250 yards for the fifth straight game as the Aggie attack scored 41 points in the first three quarters — including 24 in the third quarter. However, their scoreless fourth quarter against one of the 20 worst scoring defenses in the nation sure made things dicey — especially considering USU never trailed.
Kerwynn Williams was told by a fan before the game that he hoped Williams would leave Joe Aillet Stadium tired but happy. The senior can definitely do that — especially after doing his part. Williams drew first blood by converting a 3-yard screen pass into an 86-yard touchdown, part of a 287-yard, three touchdown day (162 and two scores on the ground) by him. GRADE: B.
DEFENSE: Sure, USU's D yielded a 52-yard completion late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Bulldogs to pull within three points. It also gave up a 21-yard reception underneath with 10 seconds to go, allowing LTU to send the game into overtime. But considering the Aggies twice intercepted a quarterback who holds the NCAA record for most passing attempts without a pick, they don't yield themselves to an abundance of criticism. LTU signal-caller Colby Cameron's streak (419 entering the game) ended in grand fashion, as the senior threw two picks — including one in the USU end zone with 4:44 remaining and his team down 10. Junior linebacker Jake Doughty made the big play. Cornerback Will Davis said earlier this week that with some dozen passes thrown his way, he figured he would nab at least one interception. He did just that — also in the end zone.
Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon may have broken several of Marshall Faulk's freshman running records this season, including rushing TDs, total TDs and points scored. But his 109 yards rushing were just his fifth-highest of the season, and his yards per carry (5) were lower than his season average (6.2). Also, the Bulldogs averaged 58.4 points per game at home.
Then there was that stop on 4th-and-3 in overtime. Still wonder why LTU coach Sonny Dykes didn't call a play to put the ball in the air — but on any account, USU made its biggest stop of the season, and perhaps the biggest in decades. GRADE: A.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A blocked 33-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation would have been helpful, but realistically, the USU special teams were solid. However, kicker Nick Diaz's 2-of-3 effort proved that the Aggies would play an overtime. GRADE: C+.
OVERALL: USU did not play perfectly in any facet of the game. But since LTU lived up to Dykes' assessment that his team hadn't played a full game either, the Aggies did enough to get the enormous victory. To the USU community, none of the mistakes matter at all given the historic nature of the program's win. GRADE: B+.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously a Deseret News intern, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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