A resounding victory echoed across Cache Valley Saturday night as Utah State beat down New Mexico State 60-13 in its home opener. The win evens the Aggies' record at 1-1 as a date with Tennessee Tech awaits on Thursday, Sept. 13. Here are three things about three things to review and prepare for what's to come in Aggie-land and around the Mountain West.
3 things from the past: USU vs. New Mexico State
1. Let's get picky — the Aggies did miss some early opportunities.
Granted the scoreboard displayed quite a discrepancy, but Utah State also left a lot of points on the field in the first quarter. It may be too rash to call them red zone woes, but the Aggies settled for field goals from the New Mexico State 27-, 15- and 4-yard lines. The other Aggies displayed stout, short-field defense to prevent the Aggies of blue to get in the end zone, which forced Dominik Eberle to kick for three instead.
Side note: after going 0 of 4 in the Arizona Bowl last season, Eberle kicked his way into the record books on Saturday night. In addition to the three field goals mentioned above, Eberle nailed three others, all 51-yarders. He tied an NCAA record with 24 points by the night's end and took home game MVP honors.
2. Is there something special with the special teams?
Besides the killer kicking by Eberle, Utah State's other special team players made an impact, too. Savon Scarver specifically made a mark as he took off like a jet for a 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. He made another 30-yard dent later while 5-foot-8 Jordan Nathan took off for a 35-yard punt return to put the ball at midfield with a minute until halftime. Four players later, the offense scored. Scarver and Nathan are lightning in a bottle, capable of being unleashed in a hurry at the drop of a switch. Cool stat: combined with Scarver's 100-yard dash, the USU Aggies scored in all three phases of the game as defense took home a pick-six.
3. Here comes the run game.
After little traction in the run game against Michigan State in Week 1 (25 rushing yards on 25 carries), the Aggies found a run game at home under the bright lights.
Granted it was against a 0-3 New Mexico State team, but it was encouraging to see the team gather 274 rushing yards. The Aggies deploy a running back by committee approach as three players scored touchdowns. Gerold Bright, a junior, led the way with 14 carries and 134 yards while mighty man Darwin Thompson averaged 16 yards a carry with 96 yards on only six attempts. If those two can stay consistent in bursting through the holes, this Aggie offense could be something.
3 things for the future: USU vs. Tennessee Tech
1. Continue to establish and refine the run game.
Last Saturday Tennessee Tech played Kennesaw State, which only threw the ball three times. Instead, it rushed 68 times, racked up 507 yards and won convincingly 49-10.
Utah State should throw more than three times, but should also let its running backs continue to feel the field out and pick up yards. New Mexico State was a great stepping stone in regards to rushing, but look for big yards, big touchdowns and lots of touches for the Aggie running backs this Thursday.
2. Dewayne Alexander is back home, just like Matt Wells.
Alexander played for the Golden Eagles and even holds two degrees from his alma mater. Throughout his coaching career, he has been on the sidelines periodically as an assistant of some sort, but was hired as the school's head coach last summer. Like Wells, he hopes to make the program and school his home since he knows what it is and where it’s been. He is in year one, but his community is excited for him to lead the future.
3. It should be another easy win.
The Aggies were supposed to win against New Mexico State. After a lackluster first quarter, Utah State did what it was supposed to and walloped to a win. That is the case for this week, too.
Wins are never guaranteed, but this is a team the Aggies should beat. Yes, it is an FCS team, but it is also a team on the rebuild with promise and potential in the years to come and not now. Tennessee Tech has lost both its games this year, scoring 20 points along the way. Bailey Fisher is a dual-threat quarterback but has thrown an interception each game while failing to top over 200 yards passing. Given the way all three phases of the game played out for Utah State last week, this shouldn't be close.
ESPN's Power Index agrees: Utah State has a 99.5 percent chance to win.
3 things from the Mountain West
1. The best win of the weekend belonged to Colorado State.
Arkansas was just the second SEC team to travel to Fort Collins, and the first since 1981, but it couldn't escape with a win. Instead, the Rams scored from a yard out with eight seconds remaining in the game to snatch a 34-27 win. At one point in the game, CSU was down by 18, and it's worth noting that Colorado State was a -13 point underdog.
The win puts Colorado State 1-2 in the record books with a matchup against another SEC foe on the horizon for Sept. 15. The Rams travel to the swamp to take on the Florida Gators in hopes of sweeping their SEC schedule.
2. Another mediocre week for Mountain West football.
Yet again, the conference went 6-6 over the weekend. One loss that stood out was Air Force losing to Lane Kiffin's squad, Florida Atlantic University. The game was in Florida, and it was a close loss at 33-27, but Air Force was exposed in a few areas.
FAU quarterback Chris Robison went 33-of-40 for a school-record 471 yards. What's more impressive, Robison is a freshman. He got into a rhythm early and was able to stand in the pocket long enough to make good, easy decisions and throws. Jordan Love: take notes.
Another alarming stat was that Air Force went 2-of-11 on third-down conversions while FAU went 7-of-13. Aggie defense: take notes.
Air Force gets an early season break with a bye for this upcoming weekend to prep for the date against Utah State on the 22nd.
3. Despite only a few weeks into college football, UCF and Boise State are the Group of Five teams worth tracking.
In the AP Poll, after Week 3 of football, Boise State sits at 17th overall and the University of Central Florida sits a row behind at 18. The USA Today Poll mimics the same results.
Boise did all it could to impress future voters with a 62-7 win over UConn. The only problem is that UConn just isn't very good and voters will recognize that. The knock on Boise is not scheduling tough enough non-conference opponents to help strengthen its schedule and its case for inclusion in the big bowls. This Saturday will be its biggest test to make a significant mark as it travels to Boone Pickens Stadium in Oklahoma to take on 24th-ranked Oklahoma State.
Per ESPN's Playoff Predictor, the Broncos currently have a 9 percent chance of reaching the playoff. The number jumps to 19 percent with a win at Oklahoma. If they win out, including a Mountain West championship, they would have a 56 percent chance of getting into the playoff.