The stakes are high and the trends point in no clear direction.
Neither Utah or Utah State has a strong advantage over the other and the victor of Thursday's game at Rice Eccles Stadium is likely to set the tone for the entire season.
All eyes will be on Utah quarterback Travis Wilson to see if the Utes offense has indeed improved. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the field, Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton will have to prove he is strong enough to withstand the Utes defensive line.
Here is a glance into what both teams will face on gameday.
UTAH STATE at UTAH
THURSDAY, 6 p.m.
Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017)
FieldTurf, Salt Lake City
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 700-AM, 1280-AM
Weather: Sunny with temperatures in the low 90s.
For Utah State ... The resurgent Aggies carry a seven-game winning streak over from last season — the fourth-longest active run of success in the nation.
For Utah ... The Utes are seeking revenge from last season’s 27-20 overtime loss in Logan. The setback proved costly as they fell one win shy of bowl eligibility.
For Utah State ... The Aggies have won seven of their last nine road games, including three straight triumphs. They haven’t won at Utah, though, since 1997.
For Utah ... The Utes had reeled off 12 straight victories over the Aggies before last season’s loss. Utah leads the all-time series by a definitive margin of 77-28-4.
Utah State will win if ... The Aggies can hold the Utes to 20 points or less once again this year. Utah was 0-5 when held to 20 points or less in 2012.
Utah will win if ... The Utes are able to move the football. They converted on just two third-down situations against USU last season.
TRAVIS WILSON, Utah: The sophomore took the starting job last season and held on to it. He now directs an up-tempo offense under the direction of co-coordinators Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson.
Utah’s defense vs. Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton: The Utes will have their hands full against the Aggies’ Heisman Trophy candidate. Keeton’s elusiveness and ability to extend plays makes him the main target of Utah’s defense.
UTAH STATE: No major injuries.
UTAH: The status of senior linebacker Brian Blechen (tendinitis) is uncertain. Sophomore defensive end Jason Whittingham (hand surgery) is not expected to play.