It was a great opportunity for me to be a part of these kid’s lives. —Utah State coach Gary Andersen
LOGAN — Never.
That was the slogan for Utah State's football team this week. Never had an Aggie team won 10 games in a season. Never had an Aggie team gone undefeated in conference play.
Saturday, however, the list of nevers got shorter. The Aggies (10-2, 6-0) crossed off several things in a 45-9 win over Idaho (1-11, 1-5) on Senior Day in front of 19,350 fans.
“There were so many things that they could do that had never been accomplished at Utah State and they won today," Utah State coach Gary Andersen said. "It was a great opportunity for me to be a part of these kids' lives.”
The victory wrote a couple new items into the Utah State record book: It clinched the school’s first 10-win season, first solo WAC championship and first outright conference title of any kind since 1936, when the team was still wearing leather helmets.
Following the game USU's crowd rushed the field where Andersen was presented the WAC championship trophy amidst cheers of "Gary! Gary! Gary!" from an adoring crowd. As a part of the celebration the Aggies officially were offered — and accepted — an invitation to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the second-straight season. The bowl game will be played Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m. MST.
“Being champs is a special moment for these kids, all these coaches and Aggies everywhere,” Andersen said, sporting a WAC Championship hat. “To have it outright and to be moving in the direction we are as a program — that’s a big-time win for our program.”
Amidst all the hoopla of the championship presentation and bowl invite, Andersen made news by telling reporters he would not be seeking coaching jobs despite rumors he is a candidate to coach at several big-name schools.
“I love where I’m at and I don’t have any intentions or aspirations of reaching out to people to go (anywhere else),” Andersen said. “I love the job. That’s basically my stance on it right now and I’ve said that all along.”
The Aggie defense started Saturday's celebration off by intercepting Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis three times in the Vandals' first five drives, all of which led to USU touchdowns.
Kerwynn Williams took a 19-yard pass from Chuckie Keeton to put the Aggies on the board following senior linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu’s first career pick. Filimoeatu returned the ball 48 yards to give the Aggies the ball at the Vandal 11-yard line.
“I think I could have scored on that had I not eaten that last plate on Thanksgiving,” Filimoeatu joked after the game.
Two Idaho drives later it was the defense that sparked another Aggie touchdown when defensive lineman B.J. Larsen picked off Davis for a second time, setting up a Keeton touchdown run from 1 yard out.
Senior cornerback Will Davis had the honors on the Aggies' third and final interception, taking it back 59 yards for a score to put the Aggies up 21-0 just a few minutes into the second quarter and start the USU rout. It was Davis’ fifth straight game with a pick and the Aggies' first interception for a touchdown since 2007.
“That felt amazing. When I got it and stumbled a little bit it scared me, but once I got up I was looking for it,” Davis said of his touchdown. “Just to have it finally happen is definitely something to cap off the year right.”
Despite rolling up over 40 points for the fifth time in six games, the Aggie offense was not at its best, only collecting 250 total yards. Andersen said after the game that several guys played through injuries. In particular, Keeton was dealing with a shoulder issue, while Williams suffered an ankle injury early in the game. The team will take some time off to heal up before starting bowl preparations sometime next week.
Utah State’s Potato Bowl opponent will be a team from the Mid-American Conference, but will likely not be announced until late next week. Current possibilities include Kent State, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green or even a rematch with Ohio.
Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.