Another football week leads to another win for the Utah State Aggies.
Here are some things from the 56-17 win in Hawaii and some things to note for the last home game this Saturday against San Jose State.
Three things from the past: USU at Hawaii
1. Historical significance
With a team like this, you need to take a minute to recognize the history the team breaks and makes with each passing week. Here are just a few:
- Per Jaden Johnson (again: a must-follow on Twitter), USU had only gone for 600+ yards in a game 11 times in 119 seasons. Hawaii was the third such time they've done it THIS SEASON. Oh, and they had had a game with 598 yards, too.
- The Aggies have put 28 points up on the scoreboard in the first quarter in each of the last two games. That has NEVER happened before in 121 years of Aggie football.
- Currently, USU is ranked 14th in the AP Poll. Guess what? It's its highest ranking ever.
- The Aggies are 8-1, which is the first time for that feat since 1963. Per Jason Turner and theHerald Journal, it's also only the 13th time in program history the team has won at least eight games.
- My favorite stat: the Aggies are up to 19 scoring drives that took less than 60 seconds off the clock this season. You are supposed to brush your teeth for a minute, not score touchdowns.
2. Key to the win: the ground game
Let's just build some more bullet points:
- Utah State has the second most rushing touchdowns in the nation with 31, while they've allowed just seven, the eighth fewest of any team.
- As a team, they amassed 426 yards on 54 carries. It's the 10th time in program history where the Ags have rushed for more than 400 yards.
- Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright each broke 100 yards rushing Saturday night.
- But speaking of Thompson, he now ranks fifth in the nation in rushing TDs but, as Johnson tweeted out, he only has 43 percent of the team's rushing TDs on the season.
3. Points per game
More bullet points? Sure, why not.
- USU has scored 451 points total in 2018. The only Aggie team to score more was the 2012 team which finished with 454.
- Utah State has three more games to break that record. FYI: Colorado State has the 118th ranked defense and San Jose has the 119th ranked defense. Out of 129 teams. Given those are two of the last three teams USU will play, hat scoring mark should be obliterated.
- Aggies have scored 40-plus points seven times this season, which is a school record.
- If you are keeping score at home, USU is back into second place in the nation in average points per game at 50.1. They've also closed the gap with Alabama, ranked first at 51.3.
Some things for the future: USU versus San Jose State
In an earlier 3x3 column, I wrote that there was a real chance for the Spartans to be winless as they came into Logan to take on the Aggies. I was wrong as San Jose got their first and only win this season was Oct. 27 when they took down UNLV 50-37.
I'm sure it felt good for that fanbase to get a win, but that isn't going to happen this upcoming weekend. ESPN's Football Power Index gives the Aggies a 97.9 percent chance of winning, the highest of the season.
What holds San Jose back is its lack of defense. They give up 36.1 points per game (Hawaii gives up 36.5 just so you know) and 462 yards a game, too (Hawaii: 454). Both of those rank in the bottom 20 in the nation. They are big numbers and with an explosive offense like Utah State, it's going to be a problem for that Spartan defense.
On the other side of the ball, SJSU also has a hard time running the ball. On the season, they average 65.8 rushing yards a game, the worst in the entire FBS. As you would infer, they average a small number of yards per carry, two, which isn't effective at all. Thompson, for USU, has been amazing in amassing 702 rushing yards. Tyler Nevens, sophomore running back for San Jose, has 15 more carries with 428 rushing yards. The lack of a rushing threat makes quarterback play difficult as Josh Love, a junior, has had two games with three interceptions apiece.
Two Things and a quote: around the Mountain West
1. Fresno State and Boise State square off
The Broncos have not been a home underdog in a regular season game in 17 years. This Friday night, No. 23 Fresno State goes to the Smurf Turf as 2.5-point favorites. ESPN is also giving them an edge: 54.7 percent likely to take the win back to California.
This is a big game for Aggie fans as it will give a glimpse into an upcoming opponent and a potential foe, too. If Boise takes the loss, that gives Utah State another leg up in the standings. If Fresno takes the loss, it gives Utah State a recipe on how to exploit Boise's powerful defense if given an opportunity. The game airs on ESPN2 at 8:15 PM MT.
2. Mountain West or American Conference?
The University of Central Florida is the higher-ranked team and the most likely among the group of five to get invited to a New Year's Six game, but the MWC is making them sweat.
Last week, UCF found themselves in a battle against Temple. In fact, they were down at halftime before ultimately taking a 52-40 victory. They are favored in the rest of their games but will take on an 8-1 Cincinnati squad and a 7-2 USF team in a rivalry game before the season ends. Can they keep their two-year winning streak alive? Or, will the notion that they aren't as good as they look on paper come true?
While Utah State has a chance, so does Fresno State and maybe even Boise State, too (OK, not really, but maybe). The MWC has four solid teams with USU and Boise in the Mountain and Fresno and San Diego in the West division. Those four are already bowl eligible, but Hawaii, Nevada, and possibly Wyoming could get there by the end of the season. Even with a 'down' year from the Bronco's national reputation, the Mountain West Conference is still relevant and in the discussion as an NY6 possibility.
3. The Quote4 comments on this story
In preparation for the game against Hawaii last week, Deseret News' Lafe Peavler quoted senior safety Jontrell Rocquemore. With three games left in the regular season, and in that final yet brutal November stretch, the reality of making history and living up to potential is looking more and more likely.
Rocquemore agrees and said, "The dream of winning the Mountain West championship is really elevating our game and focus. Once you put a string of wins like that, it's like OK, now it's not just a dream, it's reality."