What a difference a week makes.
On game day against BYU, Utah State was favored for the first time ever against the Cougars. Now, the Aggies are seven-point underdogs to Boise State after losing quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who is on the Heisman Trophy watch list, for the season.
If the Aggies indeed lose to the Broncos as expected, several prominent streaks will end as well. USU has won five straight conference games at home and has not lost back-to-back games in its last 25 outings.
The most impressive: The Aggies have won 13 straight conference games, a school record. That’s nearly twice the previous mark of seven in the Big West Conference during the 1979 and 1980 seasons.
It’s only appropriate to recall those baker’s dozen games before they start fleeing memories following a likely loss to Boise State.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. [email protected] | @wilklogan
Nov. 5, 2011: Utah State 35, Hawaii 31
The night the Aggies said “Aloha” to at least a temporary program turnaround. Late in the first half in Honolulu, freshman signal-caller Keeton suffered an extreme stinger to his spine. USU trailed Hawaii 28-7 at halftime.
Then Adam Kennedy led the team onto the field at a stadium where the Aggies had lost three straight contests. The transfer from San Joaquin Delta College (Calif.) completed 8 of 12 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard strike to Stanley Morrison to pull USU to 31-28 with 12:39 left in the fourth quarter. Kennedy then made several scrambles on the winning drive, setting up Robert Turbin for a one-yard plunge. Hawaii was done only after a 21-yard run by Warrior quarterback Bryant Moniz and an eight-yard dash by Joey Iosefa, who received a lateral but fumbled trying to pitch the ball again.
The win broke a four-game road losing streak and began a five-game winning streak to end the season, lifting USU to its first bowl appearance since 1997. USU entered the game having blown fourth-quarter leads in five of its first seven games.
Nov. 12, 2011: Utah State 34, San Jose State 33
For the second time in as many weeks, Adam Kennedy engineered a dramatic comeback, leading two drives in just more than 7 fourth-quarter minutes for the victory. In a snow-filled Romney Stadium, receiver Stanley Morrison was involved in three fourth-quarter fumbles in that quarter alone, part of five team turnovers for the game. The Aggies still pulled it off after tight end Tarren Lloyd blocked a 67-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
Kennedy’s last touchdown toss was to Matt Austin, whom USU coach Gary Andersen lauded for being patient that season. Austin led the team with 34 receptions after missing the 2010 campaign with an injury in the season-opener against Oklahoma.
Turbin eclipsed 1,000 yards against the Spartans, becoming just the fifth USU player to reach the mark twice in a career.
Nov. 19, 2011: Utah State 49, Idaho 42 (2 OT)
In the overtime thriller at UI’s Kibbie Dome, the Aggies registered their third straight game-winning touchdown in the final minute or with no time on the clock.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner made an interception at the goal line to preserve the win after Turbin had scored from two yards out. That was set up by an 18-yard Kennedy scamper. In the first overtime, Turbin scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The victory gave the Aggies five wins in a season for the first time since 2000 and the best record through 10 games since that same season. USU also won three in a row for the first time since 2001 and displayed its best conference record since 2003. The seventh game, decided by one score, was tied with Louisville for second-most in the country.
With 208 yards and three rushing touchdowns, Turbin broke USU's single-season rushing touchdown, single-season total touchdown, single-season scoring and career scoring records.
Nov. 26, 2011: Utah State 21, Nevada 17
Turbin answered again. His touchdown reception from Morrison at the end of the third quarter gave USU the go-ahead score it needed against Nevada.
Another thrilling victory made the Aggies bowl eligible for the first time since the 1997 season. It marked USU’s first four-game win streak since 2001 and gave the Aggies four WAC victories for the first time since joining the league in 2005. Their win over the Wolf Pack was also the first for the Aggies since 1950, snapping a seven-game home losing streak to Nevada.
Their eighth game decided by one score or less tied the Aggies with Kansas State for the most in the country. However, the Aggies' 31 total point differential was fewest in the nation.
Dec. 3, 2011: Utah State 24, New Mexico State 21
Another Kennedy-to-Austin go-ahead score gave the Aggies seven regular season wins for the first time since 1979.
Austin’s score with 35 seconds left gave USU seven wins for just the 21st time in its 113-season history. It was also USU's fifth WAC win of the season, the Aggies' most victories in their seven years in the league. It was USU’s best conference mark since a 4-1 Big West record in 2000 and its first five conference-wins season since 1993.
The win also was the Aggies’ game that season decided by one score, which was the most in the country.
Oct. 13, 2012: Utah State 49, San Jose State 27
The Aggies started play in a retooled WAC — their first conference game in more than 11 months — in historic fashion. Their 13 sacks were just two short of a WAC and NCAA record set by TCU on Sept. 9, 2000, against Nevada. Defensive ends Connor Williams and Jordan Nielsen, freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell — even a cornerback, Nevin Lawson — led the relentless USU attack with two sacks apiece.
The Spartan quarterback on the receiving end of those tackles was David Fales, an all-WAC player last season.
Keeton had four total touchdowns and running back Kerwynn Williams scored three on the ground, leading the Aggies to their largest road win since a 27-point victory at North Texas in 1999.
Oct. 20, 2012: Utah State 41, New Mexico State 7
USU registered a blowout victory against a team far sorrier than themselves. It gave the Aggies bowl eligibility in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1960 and 1961 seasons. The Aggies also won their sixth game in eight that season for their best single-season record through that many games since 1978.
Some wondered why a only a reported 17,001 fans filled Romney Stadium that afternoon, leaving more than 8,500 seats empty for the landmark game.
Gary Andersen’s thought?
"I guess we need to change deer hunting season," he said before remarking that the student section — half-full at most — may have been so vacant because of fall break.
More than 24,000 fans packed Romney Stadium three weeks earlier against UNLV for a "White Out" victory. Three weeks before that, tickets sold out for USU's milestone win over Utah. Even the season-opener against a non-Football Bowl Subdivision team in Southern Utah garnered a higher attendance (17,009).
Oct. 27, 2012: Utah State 48, UTSA 17
This was the game when the Aggies set the record we’re now talking about. Keeton’s 340 passing yards highlighted a win that gave USU eight straight conference victories, bettering the previous mark of seven-straight league wins from 1979 to 1980. It also marked the first time since 1990 that the Aggies scored at least 40 points in three straight games.
Nov. 3, 2012: Utah State 38, Texas State 7
With a season-high 593 yards of total offense, USU won its eighth game in a season for the first time since 1974. Keeton accounted for all five Aggie touchdowns and Williams rushed for 120 yards. USU also won its seventh straight home game. The Aggies also set a school record with four straight 38-plus points.
Announced attendance was just 221 higher than the New Mexico State game two weeks earlier.
Nov. 17, 2012: Utah State 48, Louisiana Tech 41 (OT)
It’s the game that many current seniors have called the favorite of their careers.
Williams scored on a four-yard touchdown run to give the Aggies a lead in overtime, and the defense only let the Bulldogs run four plays on the subsequent possession to clinch at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship.
With 461 total yards of offense from Keeton, USU recorded its first ever road victory against a ranked opponent and just its second ever win against a Top 25 team. Louisiana Tech had won 10 straight WAC games.
Keeton and Williams set records galore.
With a huge evening, Keeton set single-season school records for touchdown passes and total offense. His 121 yards on the ground tied the USU single-game school record for rushing yards by a quarterback set by Tony Adams in 1972.
Williams' 303 all-purpose yards gave him 6,510 such yards during his career to set a new school record.
Nov. 24, 2012: Utah State 45, Idaho 9
Fresh off a national ranking, the Aggies needed just 250 total yards to pummel the Vandals and receive some hardware.
The low yard count seemed irrelevant to thousands of USU students and fans who stormed the field after the victory, celebrating the program’s first outright conference title since 1936, when the university was part of the Rocky Mountain Conference. It was the program’s third conference title overall.
The yard tally also seemed irrelevant to WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl commissioner Kevin McDonald, both of whom visited Romney Stadium. Joining president Stan Albrecht, athletics director Scott Barnes and Andersen on a stage, Hurd officially announced the Aggies as conference champions as Andersen gave the title trophy a prolonged kiss.
That wasn't the only news for the screaming crowd. McDonald then made an official invitation for USU to play its postseason in Boise for the second straight season.
"This a special moment for the direction of the program," Andersen said. "It's special to coach around these young men and be in a community that wraps their arms around these kids. It's a special day and a special place for us. These kids put high expectations on it. They broke out of it as WAC champs. It's true, and it's theirs forever."
With the win, USU also recorded its first 10-win season in school history.
Announced attendance was 19,350 — more than 2,000 higher than it had been the two most recent home games.
Sept. 7, 2013: Utah State 52, Air Force 20
A mighty day for Keeton helped USU head coach Matt Wells register his first career win in the program’s first Mountain West Conference game.
Keeton tied his own school record with five TD passes and set a new career-high with 32 completions. His 77 rushing yards meant that he exceeded 1,000 yards for his career, becoming the 25th player in school history and the second quarterback to do so. Keeton connected with 10 different receivers that afternoon.
Sept. 27, 2013: Utah State 40, San Jose State 12
Returning to the stadium where they found 13 sacks the previous fall, the Aggies completely dominated Fales and company. Keeton led USU to 520 yards of total offense in an ESPN-televised game.
Nick Diaz, the kicker who replaced the much-maligned Josh Thompson, made four field goals — the first time since a USU placekicker had made that many in one contest since 1999.
The 28-point final margin is the Aggies' largest in their series against SJSU, exceeding their 35-8 win in 1965.