In defeating Wyoming, 35-7, last week, Utah State won the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference and travels to Fresno State for the first-ever MWC Championship Game Saturday.

Despite losing head coach Gary Andersen to Wisconsin and quarterback Chuckie Keeton to injury, the Aggies are one win away from their second consecutive conference. The Aggies won the Western Athletic Conference title last year.

However, they face a formidable opponent in Fresno State. The Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season last week against San Jose State and will look to move pass that loss by picking up their first outright MWC title.

Lafe Peavler is a sportswriter intern at the Deseret News.

At a glance

Utah State (8-4) at No. 23 Fresno State (10-1)

Saturday, 8 p.m. MST, Bulldog Stadium (41,031)


Radio: 610 AM

Weather: High of 48, low of 28. 80 percent chance of rain early in the day, but that should clear up by the evening.

The stakes

For Fresno State: The Bulldogs are looking for their first outright Mountain West Conference title under Tim DeRuyter. A win would most likely send Fresno State to the Las Vegas Bowl.

For Utah State: The Aggies are looking for their first MWC title and second-consecutive conference title for the first time since 1996-97. Furthermore, this would be Utah State's first back-to-back titles since joining the FBS. Also, a win would likely mean a Las Vegas Bowl invitation.

The trends

for Fresno State... The Bulldogs are 12-0 at Bulldog Stadium under DeRuyter. Fresno State won a share of the MWC title last season, which was the Bulldogs' first conference crown since 1999.

for Utah State... The Aggies are 4-2 on the road this season. In Matt Wells inaugural season, Utah State finished 7-1 in conference. Its lone loss in the Mountain West Conference was against Boise State at home.

The edge

Fresno State will win if ... Quarterback Derek Carr and Fresno State hit their averages. Carr averages 371.7 yards and 3.75 touchdowns per game and the Bulldogs average 47.3 points per game. Utah State simply doesn't have the firepower for a 62-52 barn-burner game like the one the Bulldogs lost last week to San Jose State.

Utah State will win if ... The Aggies rule on defense. Utah State is No. 7 in scoring defense, giving up just 16.8 points per game. While stopping Fresno State's offense will be a tall order, the Aggies have a good shot of winning this game, if they can keep the Bulldogs under 35 points.

Player to watch

Derek Carr, Fresno State

Carr leads the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns with 4,462 and 45, respectively. The senior from Bakersfield, Calif., passed for 519 yards and six touchdowns last week against San Jose State. Carr will be looking to impress NFL scouts as well as win this game.

Key matchup

Fresno State passing attack vs. Utah State's secondary

Fresno State is No. 1 in passing offense with 410.3 yards per game, and Utah State is No. 23 in passing defense, allowing 209.8 yards per game. Something has to give, and whichever team does give in will lose this game.

Injury report

Fresno State: DBs Jamal Ellis and L.J. Jones are questionable with knee injuries.

Utah State: WR Travis Reynolds is day-to-day with a knee injury and missed last week's game against Wyoming. CB Rashard Stewart also missed the game against the Cowboys with a undisclosed injury is also day-to-day.