Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah State ended the 2012 season nationally ranked for just the third time ever as it is listed 16th in the final Associated Press poll and 17th in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. USU also finished the year ranked 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series standings.
Utah State football had its most successful season in school history in 2012 as it went 11-2 and set school records for wins and home wins, while recording just its second bowl win in school history with a 41-15 victory against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Utah State also won its first outright conference championship since 1936 and just its third in school history, and finished the 2012 season winning its final seven games.
Among the main reasons for Utah State’s success in 2012 was the defense. Utah State ended the 2012 season as the only team in the nation that did not allow a first quarter touchdown. The Aggies out-scored its opponents 138-9 in the first quarter and had a 254-60 scoring advantage in the first half. The team scored first in all but two of its games and led at the half in all but one game this year.
The Aggie defensive unit ended the year ranking among the top 15 teams nationally in five defensive categories. Utah State’s defense ranked first in the Western Athletic Conference and seventh in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 ppg), tied for first in the WAC and tied for sixth nationally in sacks (3.23 pg), ranked first in the WAC and eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense (104.4), ranked second in the WAC and 13th in the country in rushing defense (113.8 ypg), ranked first in the WAC and 14th in the nation in total defense (322.1 ypg), and ranked first in the WAC and 32nd in the nation in passing defense (208.3 ypg).
Utah State’s defense also ranked tied for first in the nation in red zone efficiency as its opponents scored on just 28-of-44 red zone possessions. Of those 44 trips USU’s opponents made to the red zone, they came away with just 13 touchdowns and 15 field goals, to go along with two missed field goals, six interceptions, one fumble and a loss on downs seven times.
Furthermore, Utah State’s defense allowed its opponents to convert just 32.88 percent of its third downs (73-222), which ranked first in the WAC and 19th in the nation.
Utah State’s offense in 2012 ended up being one of the statistically best in school history, as it set single-season school records for total points (454), total offense (6,108), completions (285), completion percentage (.679), total yards per game (469.8) and total yards per attempt (6.83), while ranking second in points per game (34.9), total passing yards (3,445), first downs (272) and touchdowns (59).
As for special teams, Utah State finished the 2012 season ranking third in the WAC and 35th in the nation in net punting (38.4 ypk), third in the WAC and 37th in the nation in punt returns (10.3 ypr), and fifth in the WAC and 66th in the nation in kickoff returns (21.5 ypr).
Nationally, Utah State was one of just 17 teams to finish the 2012 season with 11 or more wins. USU was also one of just four teams across the country that did not lose a league game joining Ohio State (8-0) from the Big Ten and Kent State (8-0) and Northern Illinois (8-0) from the Mid-American Conference.
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