After victories over San Jose State and BYU, confidence in Utah State football was riding high. USU came into Saturday’s game versus Colorado State tied for first place in the Mountain West.
The Rams put the Aggies in their place.
The offense managed only 212 yards for the game, with senior QB Kent Myers finishing with 152 yards on 17-29 passing and one touchdown. No Aggie eclipsed 20 yards rushing in the game, and only five separate receivers hauled in a reception during the contest.
“We did not win the game in the trenches and there was not much else to the game than that,” head coach Matt Wells said. “Their offensive line dominated our D-line and their defensive line dominated our O-line.”
Before a 22-yard touchdown reception by Lajuan Hunt long after the game had been decided, the Aggies’ only source of points came via a blocked punt and subsequent return for a touchdown by DJ Nelson. The block was USU’s fourth of the season, easily the most in the country, with no other team totaling more than two.
“A blocked punt is a huge momentum swing in a game,” Nelson said following the game. “We believe we’re going to get that punt… It’s something we practice and it’s something we believe in.”
Meanwhile, the Colorado State offense steamrolled for much of the game, gaining over 500 yards and 29 first downs. Senior QB Nick Stevens threw for 293 yards on 22-31 passing with two touchdowns. RB Dalyn Dawkins ran for 121 yards on 21 attempts, while fellow RB Izzy Matthews tallied 84 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. WR Michael Gallup, who torched USU for over 100 yards receiving in the two teams’ meeting last year, followed up the effort with 88 yards on seven receptions.
“There was some good flashes and there were a lot of bad flashes,” junior safety Gaje Ferguson said. “A good word would be inconsistency.”
Colorado State jumped out quickly, outscoring the Aggies 17-0 in the first quarter, and scoring 24 points before USU was able to find the endzone.
“It’s amazing what rhythm can do when you make a couple of plays or get a 3-and-out, but we didn’t start that way,” Ferguson said. “All the rhythm was with Colorado State.”
The game could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the Mountain division in the MW. Colorado State avoids San Diego State out of the West division, and hosts Boise State on November 11. At 2-0 in conference play, the Rams have a clear inside track to the MW title game.
Following the loss, Utah State would need several prayers answered to contend for a division crown. With six total games left on the schedule, bowl eligibility will be the main focus for the Aggies, with USU requiring three more wins to qualify.
“We know what it feels like to have a losing season and we put a lot of stress and emphasis on not being that this year,” Ferguson said. “It means a lot to us, a lot of prideful guys that want to be great. Winning football games, that’s what we are here to do.”
Utah State’s next game will be homecoming next Saturday versus Wyoming.