Aggies bumble and stumble to an ugly loss against hungry Cougars
Utah State’s once-promising season seemed to fall apart right before our eyes in the second half of the annual Wagon Wheel match-up with BYU. This was supposed to be a great game. Instead, Aggie fans and players dressed for their own funeral at the hands of the white-uniform clad Cougars, losing 42-14.
Where there should have been fire, there was complacency in the players. Tons of missed tackles and broken coverages from USU’s D allowed BYU to go on drive after drive. Cougar QBs Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney both played and both seemingly scored at will against a visibly tired and hapless Aggie D. Missing David Woodward on the night was more costly than anyone could have imagined.
USU was able to move the ball somewhat effectively on offense, but untimely turnovers killed any semblance of momentum. In the first half, things didn’t get out of hand, even when Jordan Love threw another silly pick to a Cougar defender. This was then turned into seven points on a super short field.
After getting the ball back, USU went on a long drive and scored with a Gerold Bright TD run to end the first half, down 21-14. Considering USU turned it over three times to this point, it wasn’t a terrible or insurmountable challenge to overcome this scoring deficit.
The second half was a complete nightmare.
BYU outscored the Aggies 21-0 during this period. There were even some key opportunities for USU to stay in the game, but they weren’t able to capitalize. One long drive ended at the BYU 1-yard line because WR Jordan Nathan couldn’t convert on 4th and 1. Another unfortunate moment was when an Aggie defender batted Baylor Romney’s pass early in the fourth quarter but couldn’t come up with the pick-six in the Cougars’ endzone. It just a few inches too far from his palm.
This would have made the game 35-21 with nearly a quarter left to play for USU. Instead, BYU got big plays on the ensuing drive and went up 42-14. The rest of the game was USU getting garbage yardage and Jordan Love throwing another pick late, keeping the low score all the more humiliating.
It’s hard to believe this Aggie team beat San Diego State on the road. It’s even harder to believe they started the season 4-2. After back to back weeks of getting clobbered by Air Force and now BYU, the Aggies are sitting at 4-4 with a chance of not even making a bowl game.
Fortunately, the remaining schedule has ripe opportunities to get two more wins. Fresno State has been disappointing this season. Wyoming is now without QB Sean Chambers, so an upcoming tilt in Logan with the Cowboys seems like another winnable opportunity. New Mexico is flat out bad and will be a win for the Aggies if they stop shooting themselves in the foot. And Boise… well, forget about that one.
As much as I hate saying this, the best thing that can happen for USU right now is for Boise to win out and get the NY6 bid. Combining this event with two more Aggie wins, it almost certainly nets USU a bowl bid. Seven wins would guarantee it.
Gary Andersen has a young roster, especially on the offensive line. Losing four out of five starters from 2018, along with the injuries the unit sustained this season, has dramatically hampered USU’s rushing attack. Getting them and the returning running backs in extra bowl practices now will help set the team up for success moving forward. And a bowl (any bowl) would at least save some face and preserve some momentum from the terrific 11-2 campaign the Aggies had last year.
As much as the loss hurt last night Aggie fans, don’t completely despair. The future of this team could still be quite good. In order to ensure they have a headstart on next season’s progress, they just need to band together now (and learn how to tackle again) for two more wins.
I still believe. But because I love you people and I’m cursed watching USU play BYU in Logan, I probably won’t go to that game anymore. I’ve gone three times this decade and each one was a big USU loss. As such, I won’t take it personally if you blame me for last night’s debacle.