Where to even begin...
There's so damn much to say about this game, and the overall college football experience that it was, that this postgame will only touch the surface. A little side-story will be in order for Saturday or Sunday to wrap things up even more. For now though, I'll try to summarize it as best as I can.
"Instant classic" appropriately summarizes Friday night at Romney Stadium. And not just in the sense of a football game.
For the first time in a long, we knew this was going to be a game between the Utes and the Aggies. Add the excitement surrounding USU that permeates the air since Gary Andersen arrived in Logan, bringing a solid tailgate scene all afternoon. Fans wearing both blue and red were mingling, having a good time, and really just kind of treating things like a family affair for a "Battle of the Brothers". It started off with everything like a friendly rivalry should be. The line at the gates as a crowded as I've ever seen it with people hungry to get in and get the best seats, and it wasn't long after those gates opened that the entire lower bowl of student section and general admission was full.
The atmosphere was out of control from there. Easily the craziest I've ever seen Romney Stadium, but that's getting its own separate article tomorrow.
Friday though was what college football should be, in almost every way. And it was a collaborative effort by both Aggies and Utes that made it happen.
I said it before the game, and I think the atmosphere at and around the stadium tells the story well enough about the camaraderie between Aggies and Utes these days. But even in defeat, there were no sour grapes, just congratulations, bummed about the game as they may have been.
The first text I got after game went final was from one of the biggest Ute fans I know that simply said, "Well played brothers of the North, well played."
That's just bad ass right there.
You bet your ass I'll be rooting for the Utes to show no mercy next week when they take on BYU (even though I might be at the Wisconsin game). Which, by the way... Utah losing tonight REALLY sucks for BYU, because Utah is a way better team than BYU, has them at home at Rice-Eccles, and will probably be nice and hungry to get back to winning ways.
THE INSTANT CLASSIC
What more can you want out of a football game? Huge plays on both sides of the ball, a special teams touchdown, absolute battles going on in the trenches with both lines and some fast, gritty, tough as f***ing nails defense!!!
The Aggies came out and made some big plays to take an early lead like an underdog needs to in these kinds of games. The blocked punt by Zach Vigil was monumental, and really ramped the crowd up to a new level. The missed PAT and missed field goal thoroughly sucked, but that's practically to be expected from our kicking game at this point.
Still, Utah State showed early that Utah wasn't going to have an easy go at scoring points. This Aggie defense is for real, and they never let up all game. Both defenses were great though, and credit goes to the Utes too. They had to do it without a few key guys who either got hurt, suspended or tossed from the game. NOTHING came easy for either offense, which made every score a big one.
But even when it looked like USU might be getting worn out finally, and the Utes started to finally move the ball with some consistency, they stepped up and made big plays down the stretch. There really are too many to count, but everyone on the defense had their hand in things, capped off with Will Davis tipping away the final pass in overtime to seal the victory.
- Zach Vigil... Good hell my man. What a game!!! That blocked punt is one of, if not THE single biggest play made in the last decade or so of Utah State football. Racked up 10 tackles too.
- The rest of the special teams were way too shaky again. If the kicking game could have figured itself out, that game might never have needed overtime. Tyler Bennett's fumble on the punt and Cam Webb's fumble on one of his returns are things that can't happen anymore. Webb was otherwise solid in the punt return role though.
- Have to give Utah's defensive backs MAJOR kudos for more or less shutting down Matt Austin, and really most of the USU passing game. Impressive work by them, made it tough for us.
- Kyler Fackrell with 11 tackles and two QB hurries. He's a freshman, just in case you're wondering.
- Breakout game for Jordan Nielsen. Two sacks and four tackles total. Also a freshman, just in case you're wondering.
- Chuckie Keeton, despite the great coverage by Utah's DBs, still completed 22-of-32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Throw in 86 rushing yards, 23 of which came on that 3rd-and-9 scramble on a GREAT downfield read to get that first down in overtime, and we've definitely got a superstar on our hands Aggie fans.
- Kerwynn Williams reminded any doubters why he's the No. 1 running back on this team. Had a huge run to setup the Aggies' 4th quarter touchdown and scored the game-winner. Solid solid game by him.
- Kellen Bartlett showed why some smart people out there were hyping up his importance to this team. When the looks downfield weren't there for Keeton, Bartlett was. Eight catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
- McKade Brady deserves mention too, racking up 10 tackles, one for loss. He just keeps on delivering in the defensive backfield.
Player of the Game: Bojay Filimoeatu
About as dominant of a game as you'll see from a defensive player. Even Bobby Wagner, who will be starting for an NFL team this Sunday, only had a couple games this good. 12 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and two hurries. Dude was an absolute FORCE out there!!