Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton - USU athletics
BYU and Utah State have split the last two games between them. The Aggies blew out BYU in Logan two years ago, and BYU barely squeaked out a last-second win in Provo last year.
Aggie head coach Gary Anderson has done a great job elevating the football program to respectability, as last season showed. A close loss to Auburn and other assorted heartbreakers showed Utah State could hang with most teams in the NCAA.
This year, the Aggies 4-1, having lost a squeaker to Wisconsin in Madison, and beating up on Mountain West teams Colorado State and UNLV by large margins. They also beat Utah in Salt Lake City, which would normally be fairly impressive, except Utah stinks this season.
And BYU lost to this stinky Utah team a couple weeks ago, so there's that.
My thoughts about tonight's game:
1. The Aggie players care about this game. They see beating BYU as another step towards becoming a legitimate FBS team. They will be ready for this game, both mentally and physically.
2. QB Chuckie Keaton is a rich man's Riley Nelson. He's got 1281 passing yards on the season with 11 TD's, completing 68% of those throws. He's also got 206 yards rushing. He's no Troy Smith, but he's good enough to make defenses account for his arm and his legs. I believe, however, that BYU's defense will be up to the task. I don't expect to see Keaton running free all night.
3. Utah State's corners are vulnerable. If Hill (assuming he plays) can attack them and connect with Hoffman and Apo on a regular basis, this will make it a lot easier for Williams and company to run.
4. The Cougars' offensive line will have their hands full with the Aggies' front seven. Their run defense is stout, and even if Williams is the next Doak Walker winner at BYU, if he's not getting good running lanes from the line, it could be a long night. And if the Aggies are able to shut the Cougar running game down, I'm not sure either Hill or Nelson are able to win on their arm alone.
In the end, I see a close game. BYU 24, Utah State 21.