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San Diego • Illinois has been buzzing since the Huskies lost the MAC championship to Bowling Green.

Do the Aggies have a similar defense to the only opponent Northern Illinois lost to this season? The numbers seem to indicate some similarities, but coach Rod Carey has seen enough film to know better.

"I hate numbers," he said. "That's why I watch film. And Utah State is nothing like Bowling Green. They bring their own problems. They're very, very good."

Utah State has been preparing for a top-10 offense that features a Heisman contender, but Carey and his team have been equally concerned about the defense they'll see in Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl.

The primary goal for the Huskies is to be able to run the football, and they'll hope to do that effectively behind Jordan Lynch and Cameron Stingily. The team that runs the football well will win, Carey predicted.

He's concerned about Utah State's stout linebacking corps, featuring Jake Doughty, Zach Vigil and Kyler Fackrell. In the film room, he said, they each make so many plays that it's hard to tell them apart.

"They all run fast, hit and play deep," Carey said. "I know the two inside guys are fantastic, but all of their linebackers are as good as we've seen."

Aggies get an alumni visit

Utah State has been practicing at San Diego State's practice facility, not far from Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the San Diego Chargers.

Naturally, it wasn't too hard for one of the Aggies alums working nearby to visit practice.

Kerwynn Williams, the Aggies' do-it-all back from the 2012 season, showed up on the sidelines to say hello to his former teammates. The USU alum has been with the Chargers since being released by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year. His brother is current USU back Kennedy Williams.

Utah State gets to know the animals

In the morning, practice. In the afternoon, orcas and pandas.

The Aggies have zoo-centric activities lined up for the holidays, visiting Sea World on Tuesday. The football team spent time Christmas eve admiring sea creatures from beluga whales to seals.

Christmas Day will find the Aggies visiting the San Diego Zoo, home to 2,600 animals and one of the most famous animal parks in the world.

Twitter: @kylegoon —

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