College football • Victory on the road could pave way to Western Athletic Conference title for USU.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Logan • This is why preseason predictions mean little.
Who would've known, analyzing Utah State's schedule, that Saturday's matchup against San Jose State presents a true crossroads for the Aggies?
A win over the Spartans would mean a pathway to the Western Athletic Conference title for Gary Andersen's team. The WAC is shaping up to be a three-horse race, with Louisiana Tech the heavy favorite. And the rest of the league is clearly a notch below this triumvirate.
That means losing to San Jose in the conference opener would be a big blow to Utah State's fortunes. And it would mean a stiff uphill climb for the Aggies, not to mention their first losing streak of the season.
"It's an important game for us, and it's going to be a tough and hard-fought game," Andersen said. "San Jose State is a good team. They have a lot of talent, and that will make it difficult for us."
Not many saw Utah State's 4-2 record coming, which could easily be 6-0 with a few made field goals. Not many saw the Spartans being 4-1 and one of the more explosive offenses out West.
But David Fales has been better than expected as San Jose State's quarterback, tough and accurate, and capable of making plays with his feet.
The Spartans have beaten Navy and San Diego State on the road. They came within a field goal of beating Stanford, and confidence within the program is at a high.
"They have a good team, and they had a lot of guys coming back from last season," USU receiver Matt Austin said. "It's a team that's fighting for respect every week, just like we are. We have a lot in common."
San Jose State figures to have the best offense the Aggies have seen this season.
And the Spartans have a homecoming crowd to back them up. It all adds up to one of the biggest challenges of the season for USU.
The Aggies know they have to play better offensively than against BYU last week, when they could muster just a field goal. Execution was high on the practice priority list as well.
"This has been a well-played rivalry over the last few seasons," Andersen said. "We expect nothing less this time around."
Utah State at San Jose State
P At Spartan Stadium, San Jose.
Kickoff • 2 p.m. MDT
TV • Altitude. Radio • 97.5 FM
Last meeting • Utah State 34, San Jose State 33 (Nov. 12, 2011)
About the Aggies • USU had 10 players named to the midseason Phil Steele all-conference team. … Utah State is hoping to avoid its first losing streak of the season. … The Aggies are coming off their lowest scoring output of the season. … Utah State has lost two games by a combined five points. … Matt Austin caught a career-high seven receptions last week against BYU.
About the Spartans • San Jose State is 4-1 on the season. … The Spartans are coming off their bye week. … This is homecoming week for San Jose State. … The winner will likely have the inside track to the WAC title.