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Logan • On Saturday, Utah State won at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference for the first time in school history.
Hours later, the Aggie fan base showed the program its appreciation.
When Utah State chartered back to Logan airport after defeating Louisiana Tech, there were met by an estimated 1,500 fans, waiting to greet them as homecoming heroes. The players were surprised, saying as much on twitter. They stayed for awhile and signed autographs and took pictures as well.
"The support has been great for us," USU coach Gary Andersen said Monday. "The community has really responded to this team, and the team plays hard for the community as well. We're going to practice hard for three days and then we're going to give the kids a few days off for the holiday. We want the kids to play well on Saturday. We know Idaho is going to give us their best shot."
Utah State can win a school-record 10th game with a victory over Idaho on Saturday afternoon at Romney Stadium. In the past, November games were met with apathy from the Cache Valley locals, who are usually immersed in the USU basketball program.
Against the Vandals, many fans are calling for a sellout of Romney Stadium. Utah State officials say it's too early to tell the size of the crowd. A big walk-up turnout is hoped for.
As of Monday, the Aggies were still unsure of their bowl destination. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise remains the most likely landing spot.
Athletics director Scott Barnes said that the school has had talks with other bowls. The proximity of Boise, however, makes the Potato Bowl the favorite.
Most importantly, USU may have finally put its reputation for giving games away behind it. Saturday night's win showed that Utah State no longer deserve its "Gaggies" nickname, the one that was earned in recent years for repeatedly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Bulldogs made a run at the Aggies, erasing a 41-17 third-quarter deficit and forcing overtime. But when the extra session came, it was Utah State making all of the important plays, all of the winning plays.
"Bottom line, the kids came up big when it mattered," Andersen said. "We had a hard enough time stopping Louisiana Tech in the second half on three plays. For us to stop them on four consecutive plays took a lot of heart and determination from the kids. They have turned into a special bunch that this community won't soon forget."
Idaho at Utah State
P Saturday, 1 p.m.
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