Utah State looks to continue its special season as it travels to Fort Collins to face Colorado State on Saturday.
"It’s round seven for us and the biggest thing as you look ahead, it’s a tough place to win and they always play well there. We haven’t won there since 2012 and we’re zero for our last two times in Fort Collins. It’s a new stadium and it will be Senior Day, so they will be emotional. They have very talented young men and it’s a team that has a lot of talent and can rally together," said head coach Matt Wells during his weekly press conference.
Wells' players agree that any road trip to Colorado State is no picnic, even during a special year for the Aggies and a down year for the Rams.
"In the past, they have been a challenge for us and we are not going to look past them. This is a big game for us," said tight end Dax Raymond.
"There is a motto that our coaches always repeat, ‘Respect all, fear none.’ Our coaches, as a defensive unit, do a good job of keeping our eyes on that week’s opponent; we don’t look ahead. We are aware of who is ahead of us, but our main focus is always on the team that we have in front of us," said junior linebacker Tipa Galeai.
The fact remains that Utah State and Colorado State are having massively different seasons.
After all, the Aggies finally entered the College Football Playoff poll at No. 23 while sitting at No. 14 in the AP and No. 13 in the Coaches. Utah State is 9-1, which is its best record since Merlin Olsen was on campus. The Aggies have a chance to move into uncharted territory as no Utah State team has ever won 10 out of 11 games. The Aggies are the No. 1 team in the nation in scoring averaging 51.3 points per game, not to mention all the school records they've shattered along the way.
Colorado State, on the other hand, has a 3-7 record and is currently on a three-game losing skid. After three consecutive 7-6 season to start the Mike Bobo era, the Rams will not be headed to a bowl game for the first time since 2012. Their scoring average is less than half than Utah State's at 23.1 points per game.
But Wells and the Aggies haven't forgotten what happened last year against Colorado State. The Rams defeated Utah State in Logan 27-14.
"We looked bad last year against Colorado State in the first half. Their defensive line beat us up, their linebackers beat us up and we couldn’t do anything on offense. We couldn’t communicate to save our lives on defense and gave them some walk-off touchdowns. It was embarrassing in the first half the way we played against them. That already has gotten our guys’ attention," said Wells.
Besides, Utah State is so close to achieving its No. 1 goal of playing for and winning a conference championship. And it isn't about to jeopardize that by not taking the Rams seriously.
"Our expectation is to be Mountain West champs, and that is what we’re trying to do," said Raymond.
And Utah State's locker room has built a culture that has led to this phenomenal season.7 comments on this story
"A lot of the experts didn’t think that that we were really good. It’s hard to predict; coaches and players aren’t in the prediction business. Our guys have certainly bought into this culture in our plan to win and our core values," said Wells. "The guys that are making plays right now that have not been here very long have come in and added to the culture. I’m so proud of them. We have our own expectations internally and I’ve always said they’re higher than anybody else can put on us. The outside world didn’t put very high expectations on us. You don’t really use that as an emotional motivation because at some point, that’s going to wear off and your habits, your discipline, is going to going to kick in. So much of that is developed in the offseason from January all the way through July, and then quite frankly, those predictions come out in July, so it doesn’t really matter."