On Friday, we'll see the Aggies and Cougars try and rise above some very unfortunate injuries.
It's the saga of the scalpel and ice pack.
American statesman Henry Cabot Lodge once said, "The time given to athletic contests and the injuries incurred on the playing field are part of the price which the English-speaking race has paid for being world conquerors."
I don't know how much of the world BYU and Utah State have done in the conquered-the-world department, but both have suffered untimely injuries to football players this year. And that has to mean something.
Utah State is winning this battle of misfortune. The Cougars aren't too far behind. To say injuries have not impacted both teams is like saying Tiger Woods divorce didn't mess with his game.
The Aggie issues surfaced before they even played a game. Linebacker Matt Ah You, a BYU and Central Washington transfer, went down in August. Star running back Robert Turbin underwent ACL surgery back in February. A stud running back, Turbin's injury has impacted Gary Andersen's squad in a big way losing a guy who rushed for 1,296 yards and 13 TDs, a threat to break the big one on any given play.
The Aggies also lost receiver Stanley Morrison and corner Jamaine Olson to injuries before the opener at Oklahoma. USU offensive lineman Tariq Polley also got injured in the preseason but unlike the four others, he may return.
Before the San Diego State game, the Aggies reported injuries to offensive lineman Spencer Johnson, receiver Matt Austin, safety Rajric Coleman, corner Chris Randle, running back Michael Smith and kicker/punter Peter Caldwell. Austin is out for the season but the others, excluding Caldwell, made it back for SDSU and may play Friday.
That's quite a roll call for sick bay.
And it doesn't even count head coach Gary Andersen, who fell and hurt his neck this week and will likely be seen wearing a neck brace during the game.
BYU lost starting quarterback Riley Nelson to shoulder surgery after an aggravated injury in the loss at Florida State. Freshman receiver Ross Apo dislocated his finger in practice before the FSU game and needed surgery.
Starting free safety Steven Thomas also went down in that game and the other safety, Andrew Rich, had what trainer Kevin Curtis described as a "full body contusion", but he returned against Nevada.
One of the most dramatic, if not controversial injuries in the region took place last Saturday with a BYU starter.
In that Nevada game, starting BYU nose guard Romney Fuga tore his knee up after a questionable cut block and underwent ACL surgery this past week. Also under the surgeon's knife was outside linebacker Jamison Frazier, who broke his hand in the Nevada game.
These two teams have suffered. Three BYU defensive starters will miss Friday's game. For the Aggies, a multitude of freshmen have been called for duty because of injuries.
BYU will take the redshirt off freshman Graham Rowley, a defensive end, because of Fuga's injury. Freshman Kyle Van Noy will see significant action Friday because Frazier is hurt.
"There have been a lot of unique challenges this year," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I've been learning a lot and growing a lot as an individual. I've been impressed with our team's resiliency. We have a lot of challenges right now. It's difficult to lose players for the season who you are close to."
This week's predictions
TCU 38, Colorado State 14: The Horned Frogs will take their first trip out of the Metroplex area of Dallas Fort Worth and drop in to Fort Collins for a little Rocky Mountain BBQ.
Air Force 28, Navy 24: The Falcons didn't look interested at Wyoming but nothing will get the Falcons standing at attention faster than this battle for the Commander in Chief Trophy.
UTEP 21, New Mexico 10: The Lobos are fast becoming everyone's best friend now that Rocky Long's toughness is transplanted at San Diego State.
Toledo 17, Wyoming 14: The Cowboys are improved and have some weapons but this road trip isn't going to be a rodeo at all.
Nevada 28, UNLV 14: Colin Kaepernick could beat Harry Reid if he was running for Senate and he'll get plenty of statewide love in this instate game between two future MWC foes.
BYU 28, Utah State 21: BYU must fight off USU early and win the line of scrimmage battle. USU needs to score quick and force Cougar panic in Logan. Look for the Cougar offense to find a rhythm even with Gary Anderson trying to puzzle Jake Heaps.
Last week 5-1; overall 28-4 (.875)
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