• How does the line hold up? In the last two weeks, Utah State saw its offensive line blasted and then watched it dominate a preseason-all Mountain West defensive tackle on pass rush last week. Is this offensive line the one that got rocked against USC? Or the one that punished San Jose State? Consider this week a gut check. Coach Mark Weber said the line has worked on its fundamentals and technique since its game against the Trojans, and he's seen progress. Kyle Van Noy and Alani Fua, among the other dangerous front-seven playmakers at BYU, will test that claim. Sini Tauauve'a is expected to slide in fairly cleanly on the offensive line, but it would not be surprising to see BYU try to target him in their blitzing schemes.
• Red zone, blue zone, USU zone, BYU zone. Whatever you want to call it, a key for the Aggies will be converting on drives that reach inside the 20 yard line. Although Utah State put up 40 points last week, many offensive players - and Matt Wells - were dissatisfied with getting three field goals out of drives that were in the red zone. If this is a close one, the Aggies could be kicking themselves over missed points. On the flip side, Utah State's defense has been excellent at keeping opposing teams out of the end zone when they get close, allowing only five touchdowns on 13 red zone possessions, a 38 percent mark. The Cougars have scored touchdowns on eight of their 19 red zone (or blue zone, I guess) possessions, for a 42 percent mark. As long as the Aggies can hold true to their numbers, this may be a key advantage for Utah State.
• Keep the flags hidden. One of the uglier trends for the Aggies is their propensity for getting knocked by penalties. They've had 37 flags this year, and are giving up an average of 74.4 yards per game. One of last week's saving graces was that San Jose State committed more penalties for more yards, which is crazy considering Utah State had 10 flags. There will be some penalties for aggressiveness and others in coverage, but Utah State can help itself by limiting those as best as they can. Against a defense like BYU's execution will be key.
• My own thought here: Beating BYU would loom large on the year, but also would be the biggest win to date for the Aggies this season. Boise State or Wyoming might be more critical, but there's no doubt a win over the Cougars is more impressive than any other Utah State victory this year (so far). The Aggies have only beaten one-win teams Air Force and San Jose State, who arguably are not the teams they were expected to be this season. BYU may be having an up-and-down year thus far, but beating a team that upset a nationally ranked opponent? That would look good stacked against the teams that Utah State has beaten in 2013. Not to mention that whole "rivalry, and Aggies have won once in 20 years" thing. A three-point loss shows the teams are competitive, but Utah State needs a win if it wants to keep this rivalry interesting.
See you at 6 p.m. tonight, or you can catch the game on CBS Sports Network.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon