Spring ball is just getting started around the country, and college football is many months away for Utah State. Clearly, it is too early to be talking about the 2017 football schedule.
When has that stopped us before?
The Aggies will visit two Power 5 programs this season, including one huge name in the Big Ten to kick off the season. And the Mountain West looks plenty tough this season, with several teams that are not Boise State looking to take the crown this season and perhaps get the Group of 5's automatic bid to a New Year's Six Bowl.
Here's a way-too-early look at Utah State's 2017 schedule.
at Wisconsin, Saturday, Sept. 1
2016 record: 11-3 (7-2 Big Ten)
The Aggies start the season with a trip to Camp Randall Stadium, and they shouldn't expect an easy time against the reigning Cotton Bowl champions. The Badgers will need to break in a new star running back with Corey Clement gone, but Wisconsin is a place that has a deep tradition of bulldozing opponents no matter who is in the backfield. Perhaps the bigger concern for Utah State is moving the ball against a defense that allowed just 15.6 points per game last season, which was good enough for No. 4 in the nation.
vs Idaho State, Thursday, Sept. 7
2016 record: 2-9 (1-7 Big Sky)
A game against Idaho State of the FCS after a tough road opener is just what the doctor ordered for Utah State. While some FCS teams have shown in the recent past that they can hold their own against FBS opponents, the Bengals won just one conference game last season. This should be a good breather before the Aggies hit the road to face yet another Power 5 opponent on the road.
at Wake Forest, Saturday, Sept. 16
2016 record: 7-6 (3-5 ACC)
The Demon Deacons may not have made much of a splash in ACC play, but they did upset then-No. 24 Temple in the Military Bowl. Wake Forest returns two quarterbacks who were sidelined at one time or another with injury last season in Kendal Hilton and John Wolford. This program appears to be headed in the right direction as it had its first winning season in eight years.
at San Jose State, Saturday, Sept. 23
2016 record: 4-8 (3-5 Mountain West)
The Spartans have a new head coach in Brent Brennan and a lot of work to do. Brennan has to rebuild a defense that gave up an average of 34.7 points per game last season. Plus, the Spartans will need to install a new quarterback to go along with the new offense. Brennan's going to have a hard time getting everything turned around in one year, much less by the time the Aggies come to town.
vs BYU, Friday, Sept. 29
2016 record: 9-4 (FBS independent)
The Cougars' first year under Kalani Sitake was just a few points here and there away from being really special. BYU's four losses came by a combined total of eight points. The offense now completely belongs to Tanner Mangum, and we'll see drastic changes in the run and pass game now that Taysom Hill has ridden off into the sunset. But BYU's strength next year will be the defense with players like Fred and Troy Warner returning. The Cougars were No. 14 in scoring defense last season, giving up only 19.5 points per game.
vs Colorado State, Saturday, Oct. 7
2016 record: 7-6 (5-3 Mountain West)
2016 was an up and down year for quarterback Nick Stevens. He was benched early in the season, but he returned to the field after Collin Hill was lost to a knee injury. In his last game he passed for 445 yards and five touchdowns. It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation shakes out for the Rams, headed into Stevens' senior year.
vs Wyoming, Saturday, Oct. 14
2016 record: 8-6 (6-2 Mountain West)
The Cowboys are a team on the rise with former North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl at the helm. Bohl won three FCS titles in a row before taking the job at Wyoming. The Cowboys represented the Mountain Division at the conference championship game, beating out even the likes of Boise State. Josh Allen returns at quarterback after declining to leave early for the NFL. He passed for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. Leading rusher Brian Hill, however, decided to declare for the draft and will not return. Confidence is building in Laramie, and this program could rise as a power in the Mountain West.
at UNLV, Saturday, Oct. 21
2016 record: 4-8 (3-5 Mountain West)
UNLV needs to find some sort of stability at quarterback this season that it simply didn't have last year. Three different quarterbacks got starts last season. Two senior starters return in Kurt Palandech and Johnny Stanton, but redshirt freshman Armani Rogers is reportedly in the mix to supplant the two seniors.
vs Boise State, Saturday, Oct. 28
2016 record: 10-3 (6-2 Mountain West)
The Broncos had another 10-win season, but Boise State's last two games ended in disappointment. A loss to Air Force cost Boise State a trip to the conference championship game, and the bowl game ended in a stunning upset to Baylor. Boise State's problems don't end there, as they lost their leading rusher Jeremy McNichols, and the No. 2 rusher is out for the spring due to a shoulder injury. All of that said, Brett Rypien is a top-rated quarterback with 3,646 yards passing and 24 touchdowns last season.
at New Mexico, Saturday, Nov. 4
2016 record: 9-4 (6-2 Mountain West)
The Lobos ended the season, winning seven of their last eight games, thanks in large part to their potent rushing attack. In fact, they were the No. 1 team in the nation in yards per game at 350.0. While they lose leading rusher Teriyon Gipson, Tyrone Owens had 1,097 yards rushing and averaged an astounding 8.0 yards per carry last season.
vs Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 18
2016 record: 7-7 (4-4 Mountain West)
Hawaii is trying to put together the kind of high-octane offense it had in its glory days. We saw a glimpse of that against opponents such as Middle Tennessee State in the Hawaii Bowl, as the Rainbow Warriors scored 52 points. Then again, San Diego State shut them out. Still, 2016 was a step in the right direction for Hawaii under Nick Rolovich in his first season. Dru Brown appears to be the kind of quarterback that can thrive in a pass-heavy offense, as he threw nine touchdown passes in the final two games of the season.2 comments on this story
at Air Force, Saturday, Nov. 25
2016 record: 10-3 (5-3 Mountain West)
The Falcons had a solid season as they won double-digit games, took the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy back from Navy and soundly beat South Alabama in the Arizona Bowl. Arion Worthman returns at quarterback after taking over for the injured Nate Romine. He showed he can pass the ball when the occasion calls for it, as he had 207 yards passing and a touchdown in the bowl game. Of course, Air Force is more than content to run the ball down opponents' throats.
Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.