LOGAN — In-state rivalries are games that every player looks forward to, but for a select few Aggies it carries even more weight. Wide receivers Austin Alder and Travis Van Leeuwen, and defensive end Funaki Asisi all attended high school in Provo.
"It's fun to go back and play in front of your home crowd," Alder, a Provo High graduate, said. "All my family is from Provo, and I have countless people I know on the BYU team. I definitely want to go out there and get a win."
He's not the only one.
"I know a lot of people down there in that area," added fellow Bulldog alum Asisi. "Basically, when you come out of it, it is a lot of bragging rights when you get to go visit home."
With Utah State coach Gary Andersen's increased emphasis on recruiting in-state, the Aggies hope more players will choose Utah State over BYU in the future — like Van Leeuwen did.
"(BYU) was a team that I definitely looked at because they recruited me since my sophomore year of high school," Van Leeuwen said. "Ever since I got recruited by coach Andersen I knew I always wanted to play for coach Andersen no matter where he was. Back in high school, I really liked Utah the most, then he got the job here (Utah State) and I wanted to come here without a doubt because of coach Andersen."
RIVALRY AGAIN: When Andersen took over the head job at Utah State, one of his goals was to make in-state games with BYU and Utah rivalries again.
"We made it very clear that until you win a game it's not a rivalry, it a lopsided in-state game. I think that we have accomplished that goal, I think this will definitely be a rivalry," Andersen said.
The Aggies made a statement with their 31-16 victory against BYU last year and used the extra exposure of the game being broadcast on national TV to help with their recruiting efforts.
"It is national exposure on ESPN, the exposure that we got last year at our place with the packed house playing on ESPN is probably the reason that Chuckie Keeton is here taking snaps right now," said Andersen.
EDWARDS HONORED: Utah State inducted legendary BYU coach LaVell Edwards into the USU Athletics' Hall of Fame earlier in the month. Edwards graduated from Utah State in 1952 and was a three-year letterman from 1949-51. In 1950, Edwards was unanimously awarded all-Skyline Six conference honors. Edwards coached BYU from 1972 to 2000 and Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium in his honor following his retirement.
IF YOU GO: Because of construction on I-15, UDOT recommends that any Utah State fans traveling from Cache Valley to Provo on Friday leave by 2 p.m. to ensure they arrive in Provo in time for the start of the game. UDOT also recommends using the 800 North Exit (Exit 272) in Orem, and taking 800 North (SR-52) east to University Boulevard, and then going south on University Boulevard (US-189) directly to LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Using the exit in Orem will free drivers of much of the construction and game day traffic congestion around the traditional routes.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company