Utah State vs. Hawaii: Keys For An Aggies Win
Aggies looking to make a statement after snubbing in playoff poll.
Utah State looking for its eighth straight win.
In a game almost nobody in August thought would be a clash of exciting Mountain West offensive attacks, the No. 18 Utah State Aggies take on Hawaii Saturday for a chance to improve to 8-1 — and maybe even earn some respect from the CFP-ranking frauds controlling the destination of the MW title game.
Here’s why Utah State is coming home with a win.
It helps to have the best offense in program history
After much ado about an allegedly unattractive 24-16 road win at Wyoming two weeks ago, Utah State returned to form against New Mexico. Taking an extra minute to finish sipping their pregame Capri Sun while the Lobos booted a 53-yard field goal barely fazed USU, which proceeded to obliterate New Mexico and bury their ashy remains in the South end zone before most fans had even returned from the pretzel line.
The Aggies tallied four straight touchdown drives and a bonus 100-yard Shaq Bond pick-six in 16 game minutes, effectively putting a Mountain West opponent to bed with an insurmountable 35-3 lead that would balloon to 52-5 by halftime.
Jordan Love cashed in an all-time Aggie performance for a fourth offensive player of the week award in just two quarters, with 448 yards and 4 TDs. They could’ve doused Love in Gatorade right then, as his day was almost certainly over.
Utah State’s high-flying offense is a relentless combination of talent at every position, redshirt sophomore QB Love’s brilliant trajectory and offensive coordinator David Yost who knows how to capitalize seemingly every drive.
At 7-1, it’s no surprise Love is on pace for a historically good season — what is a shock is how efficiently the QB has compiled stats on pace with several single-season records while skipping eight quarters through eight games as the Aggies continually find themselves pumping the brakes late.
It can be said for every Aggie game this season — if the OL holds and Love is on again, Hawaii is finished.
Utah State’s secondary has to show up
Hawaii will score some points, and not just in garbage time. QB Cole McDonald has the Warriors scoring 33.4 ppg and averaging 469 yards of offense — that’s not nothing. Hawaii hasn’t played many teams of consequence, but McDonald and his top target WR John Ursua have kept the Warriors in games late and have Hawaii’s program-wide rebuild a little ahead of schedule.
Utah State’s defense is a shade underrated this year due to the almost-too-efficient Aggie offense running up the score, but injuries to the secondary pose a legitimate concern. Most recently, starting safety Shaq Bond suffered a season-ending ACL tear just two quarters after a brilliant showing against New Mexico. Bond’s absence requires all of USU’s secondary to step up and keep the Aggies’ 7-game hot streak rolling.
Hawaii’s defense is…not good
This game could be considered a trap game for Utah State. The Aggies are now ranked both in AP and coaches polls and had a long flight to the islands to think about it. Meanwhile, the Warriors can put up points and stick with teams if you let them. It’s an easy team to sleep on, though that would be uncharacteristic of what has thus far been a focused Utah State squad.
Of course, even if it takes a quarter for the Aggies to wake up, Hawaii’s defense poses zero threats. The Warriors are allowing opposing offenses an extra touchdown per game compared to their average output — Utah State averages 49.4 ppg and it could probably be closer to 75 if not for Matt Wells allowing MW foes to leave with some semblance of dignity.
This will be more of a shootout than perhaps USU is used to, but still has all the signs of a late blowout that favors an Aggie team looking to move up the national Top 25.
Love throws for three touchdowns to three different players, Darwin Thompson finds the end zone for the 100th straight week, and the Aggie defense patches together a decent game against an honorable Hawaii effort.
Utah State 52, Hawaii 31