LOGAN So this is what happens when Utah State plays a team that's not ranked in the Top 20.
With the likes of Oregon and Utah out of the way, the Aggies unleashed their long-awaited rushing attack and really, this next part is true found themselves alone atop the Western Athletic Conference standings.
USU's 42-17 win over Idaho helped the Aggies open up WAC play in a way they simply aren't used to. And Utah State coach Brent Guy wasn't about to let the moment go without taking note of his team's rare place in the standings.
"I told the team we were Ricky Bobby today," Guy said, referring to the driver from the movie Talladega Nights. "We're either first or last. That's exactly what we were playing for."
The game was the only WAC game on the schedule this week and was the first of the season. As such, the win gives the Aggies (1-3 overall) sole possession of first place. Idaho slips into last place while the rest of the league will wait another week to begin conference play.
"This is the proudest of the team I've been," Guy said, contrasting his disappointment from the 58-10 loss to Utah a week earlier. "We finally did exactly what we said we were going to do coming out of halftime, and we didn't flinch."
With first-time starter Diondre Borel piloting the offense, the Aggies amassed an incredible 580 offensive yards, with 356 coming on the ground. Those numbers are more astounding when compared to the 226 rushing yards Utah State had in the
previous three games combined.
Perhaps as important as the offensive outpouring was the ability to overcome an Idaho lead late in the third quarter and never let the Vandals recover.
"We not only didn't let them out," Guy said of the lead, "but not only did we hang on to it, but we scored 21 points (in the fourth quarter.)"
Freshman running back Robert Turbin became the first Aggie in nearly two years to have more than 100 yards rushing in a game and finished with 123 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Combined, USU ran the ball 45 times for those 356 yards. Borel added 93 yards and a 33-yard touchdown on 12 carries, and sophomore Curtis Marsh added 67 yards and a score on five carries.
The 42 points are the most scored by a Brent Guy team in his three-plus seasons at the USU helm.
"The reason why we won this game is we played as a team," Turbin said. "When controversy hit us, we were able to come together as a team."
The win actually could have been much more dominating. Three first-half drives that probably should have ended in Aggie points resulted in turnovers. They also resulted in a 7-7 score at the break despite USU holding a commanding 280-80 advantage in yards gained.
Idaho opened the second half with a little more energy and reclaimed the lead and eventually led 17-14 with 2:10 left in the third quarter. But the Aggie defense came up with a pair of huge plays to balance the offensive resurgence and give USU all the momentum it needed.
After the Aggies took the lead on a 15-yard pass from Borel to tight end Jeremy Mitchell, USU pushed the Vandals backward on their next possession.
Defensive end Darby Golden unloaded a crushing sack on Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle, causing a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by Ben Calderwood, giving USU a 28-17 lead.
The next time Idaho had the ball, USU cornerback James Brindley played a little center field and picked off a poorly thrown Enderle pass and returned it 38 yards, setting up a 41-yard run by Marsh on the next play.
Not feeling any lead was safe, Guy's offense this time led by former starting quarterback Sean Setzer closed the game out with a convincing 12-play, 97-yard drive, eating up more than six minutes off the clock before Turbin scored with 1:08 to play when he blasted his way through the line for a 26-yard touchdown.
"It gives our team a lot of confidence to be able to run the ball," Turbin said.
It's confidence that has been sorely lacking in Logan lately. And confidence that will be sorely needed in two weeks when No. 14 BYU visits Romney Stadium.
E-mail: [email protected]