USU football • Utah State travels to Wisconsin next.
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Utah State coach Gary Andersen awoke early Saturday morning.
He took his family and his mother to Angie's restaurant in Logan. He went to the office to get some work done, and he answered roughly 275 text messages from well-wishers from Friday night.
Yes, winning big games carries big responsibility.
Andersen vows nothing will change with his Aggies in the wake of a nationally televised 27-20 overtime win against Utah before a sellout crowd and a audience Friday night. His team will prepare the same, maintain the hunger of an underdog. Status quo is how he puts it.
Yet the conclusion almost is inevitable: On the heels of one of the biggest and most high-profile wins in school history, USU could be on the verge of a special season.
"We have to just do what we do," Andersen said Saturday morning. "We're now on to round three. We have to do exactly what we did last week. There are no days off in the business of college football."
Round three is nationally ranked Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, always one of the toughest venues to play at in the country. As was the case against Utah, the Aggies will go into next week a confident bunch, with good reason.
Andersen has called his defense the best he's coached in Logan through two games. Chuckie Keeton rapidly is transforming into a superstar and laying claim to being the best quarterback in the state. The running game, even without Robert Turbin and Michael Smith, is proving to be effective in a different way. Most of all, a young team is gaining confidence by the snap.
"The kids have some belief," Andersen said. "They've been through some tough times last season, and they have learned from some difficult losses."
Most encouraging to Andersen is the fact that USU beat Utah without having to play the perfect game. In fact, it was far from perfect for the Aggies. Utah State lost the turnover battle. The Aggies made mistakes on special teams, and Andersen's offense stalled for the majority of the second half.
Still, Keeton is proving to be the dynamic kind of playmaker every mid-major Division I team needs. He's thrown four touchdown passes and just a single interception this season. He's thrown for 518 yards, and he consistently made plays with his feet outside of the pocket to effectively nullify Utah's big advantage on the interior Friday.
"I have to say this was the biggest victory of my career," Keeton said moments after Friday's win. "We just hung in there, and that's what this team is all about. We have tough players, and that helped us."