Matt Gade, Deseret News
Utah State Aggies linebacker Nick Vigil (41) comes up with the football after an onside kick during the Mountain West Football Championship game at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, Calif. on Saturday, December 7, 2013.

USU surely would have liked to have Chuckie Keeton healthy this season, but all things considered the 2013 season didn't turn out too bad. After all, the Aggies won the Mountain Division of the MWC in their first year in the conference.

Not bad at all.

But a Poinsettia Bowl win over No. 23 Northern Illinois would be a fantastic Christmas present for the fans. This would be the first time the Aggies have won back-to-back bowl games in school history, and over a ranked team to boot.

A win like that to end Utah State's season would do wonders for the Aggies' confidence as they head into the offseason. And with Chris Petersen gone from Boise State to Washington, Utah State has a real chance to establish itself as the dominant team in the Mountain Division.

Yes, Utah State would also like to take over as the dominant team in the state as well. But beating BYU and Utah on a regular basis takes momentum and confidence, and a win over the Huskies would help provide both.

Of course, beating NIU will be a tough task. The Huskies were just one game away from playing in their second-straight BCS bowl, and Jordan Lynch is one of the finest dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. That said, teams don't gain notoriety by beating teams that they're expected to beat.

Lafe Peavler is a sportswriter intern at the Deseret News.