There was no letdown. NMSU was not allowed to hang around. Utah State knew it was the better team and played like it, scoring the first 28 points and never letting its counterpart get into any kind of rhythm.
As a result, the matchup became a laugher by halftime.
"We executed the game plan well, and everyone did their part to get the victory," USU senior running back Williams said. "We played really well, and we played like we were the team that should be winning."
For the second consecutive season, the Aggies are now bowl-eligible. Only this time, it didn't come down to the second-to-last game on the schedule. This Utah State team is 6-2 for the first time since 1982. The Aggies have now won seven consecutive conference games, the first such feat for the program since 1980.
Williams and Keeton were the catalysts. Keeton, a sophomore quarterback, went 16-of-26 for 257 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He ran seven times for 81 yards and another two scores. His 76-yard scamper in the second period was a career high. His output came in three quarters.
Williams rushed for 82 yards and caught three passes for another 94 yards. Senior wideout Chuck Jacobs caught four balls for 94 yards and a touchdown.
"It's a very different feel to have six wins in October," head coach Gary Andersen said. "I thought we executed extremely well on offense with the opportunity that we were given. I was really proud. I thought defensively, it was not our best game. The kids take a lot of pride in the way they play defense. They scored seven points, but we've got to clean some things up."
Utah State consistently allowed New Mexico State to move the ball, despite the Southern Aggies converting just one score. Fact is, USU bailed itself out on multiple drives. Will Davis ended one march with an interception and long return out of the end zone. Another drive was halted for NMSU with an untimely penalty.
Utah State's defense made the plays it had to, but it was far from its greatest hour. Germi Morrison rushed for 96 yards against a USU defense normally stingy in that category. Austin Franklin, one of the best wide receivers in the Western Athletic Conference, caught eight passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.
"Defensively, we started off slow and coach A addressed that at halftime," Davis said. "We were giving up way too many yards. With our offense scoring so fast and us getting back on the field, one thing you don't want to do is stand there too long. We want to come out a little faster, and that's something we're going to focus on for the next game."
Utah State 41, NMSU 7
R The Aggies win their seventh straight conference game to become bowl-eligible.
• USU scores 28 consecutive points to start the game.
More coverage • Aggies cornerback Will Davis has become a fan favorite this season. > C5
Utah State 41, NMSU 7
NMSU 0 0 7 0 7
Utah St. 14 14 10 3 41
USU • K.Williams 76 pass from Keeton (Diaz kick), 14:38.
USU • Jacobs 49 pass from Keeton (Diaz kick), 6:26.
USU • Keeton 76 run (Diaz kick), 14:37.
USU • K.Williams 3 run (Diaz kick), :39.
USU • FG Diaz 53, 10:48.
NMSU • Franklin 6 pass from Manley (M.Johnson kick), 8:15.
USU • Keeton 9 run (Diaz kick), 1:01.
USU • FG Diaz 48, 12:13.
Attendance • 17,001.
First downs 21 20
Rushes-yards 34-132 36-256
Passing 189 260
Comp-Att-Int 20-38-1 17-27-0
Return Yards 0 83
Punts-Avg. 6-44.0 3-36.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 1-15 8-76
Time of Possession 33:42 26:18
Rushing • New Mexico St., Morrison 19-96, Colwell 5-31, Franklin 3-16, Manley 7-(minus 11). Utah St., K.Williams 13-82, Keeton 7-81, Lee 5-46, Glover-Wright 5-39, Hill 4-17, Team 1-(minus 1), Harrison 1-(minus 8).
Passing • New Mexico St., Manley 19-37-1-177, Colwell 1-1-0-12. Utah St., Keeton 16-26-0-257, Harrison 1-1-0-3.
Receiving • New Mexico St., Franklin 8-84, Morrison 4-28, Walls 3-37, Bateman 3-21, Matthews 1-12, J.Brown 1-7. Utah St., Jacobs 4-94, Bartlett 4-18, K.Williams 3-94, Reynolds 2-25, Webb 2-25, Van Leeuwen 1-3, Austin 1-1.