USU football vs BYU takeaways: It’s a rivalry edition

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Jalen Davis deserves his 
own Aggie ice cream flavor.

 

While the jury’s still out on if this team is truly “good,” your 2017 Utah State Aggies are undoubtedly entertaining. So what if BYU is a bottom-10 FBS team? So what if San Jose State probably is, too? The Aggies have spent the past few weeks upending expectations in a big way, throwing down 40+ points in each of their three wins this year and currently ranked no. 1 in the nation in forced turnovers. Utah State is already halfway to bowl eligibility at 3-2, and (perhaps even more surprisingly) enters conference play this weekend technically leading the Mountain Division. Sure, some reshuffling may be in orde—[THIS INTRODUCTION HAS BEEN INTERCEPTED BY JALEN DAVIS].

Winners: The Aggie secondary

Jalen Davis simply isn’t fair. BYU’s quarterback struggles were exacerbated Friday by the future pro and his partner in crime Dallin Leavitt, a former Cougar due for a proper revenge game. Davis returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns in the most dominant individual Aggie performance since Kerwynn Williams’ 235-yard Potato Bowl. Leavitt, a senior in his last game ever against his former team, secured an interception of his own. The Aggie defense also recovered three fumbles (against a team that hadn’t lost a fumble all year), totaling seven takeaways Friday and a cool dozen over the past two games — Utah State has amassed an FBS-leading 16 turnovers for the season.

Losers: Cougar QBs

Poor Beau Hoge.

 

Evidently the Old Wagon Wheel demands a blood sacrifice in order to exchange hands, as this rivalry’s long painful tradition of quarterback injuries continued Friday. Three BYU quarterbacks saw the field last weekend — none of them named Tanner Mangum — to combine for 12-of-29 passing and the four previously noted interceptions. The Cougars did manage 186 yards through the air, ten more than Utah State’s final tally, though the Aggies often took over drives with favorable field position. Don’t think I’m about to let ‘em off the hook, though.

Losers: USU’s less-than-opportunistic offense

Halfway through this game’s third quarter, the Aggies boasted a +5 in the turnover margin and led by all of six points. As fun as it was seeing USU lay 40 on Provo’s favorite bearded manchildren, the defense accounted for way more than its fair share of heavy lifting. Utah State’s struggling offense gave up an early pick-six to Micah Hanneman on the most pathetic screen play of all time and failed to get much of a rhythm going after an impressive opening touchdown drive. Yes, BYU’s front seven consists of massive lineman and some adequate linebackers, but seriously this should’ve been a blowout early.

Instead, this was a 21-7 game in BYU’s favor through the better part of the first half. Kent Myers missed three potential homerun plays by overthrowing open receivers, and a team total of 112 rushing yards on 44 attempts is horrid. The underrated stat of the game might be USU’s 7-of-21 third down conversion rate. If not for some major momentum-seizing defensive plays, this game is likely a loss to one of the worst teams in the country. The offense has got to produce more against CSU this Saturday — a lot more. Myers did show some flair on Friday with a nice pair of touchdown passes (we’ll get there in just a moment), and ran in a 19-yard touchdown to begin the fourth quarter to give USU a small cushion late. Myers made the right call on several occasions to tuck it and run, but his deep pass completion rate is still in need of some serious recalibrating.

Winners: Big plays from big targets

Dax Raymond sprinted up the seam for his first career touchdown to put USU on the board 7-0, while Ron’quavion Tarver bookended the wild first half with a game-tying 36-yard touchdown grab. Both scored from 30+ yards out, both create nightmares for opposing defenses, and both seem much better options than ramming it up the middle for two yards on second down. Get the ball to Raymond and Tarver at every opportunity.

Winners: Fans of college rivalries

That’s three wins over BYU in eight years — not a shining record, but I can certainly think of more lopsided rivalries over that same span.


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