Sep 6, 2012
The Brothers Are Growing Up In This Sibling Rivalry
You've read all the basics about the series between the Utes and the Aggies. Friday's the 110th meeting, the Utes lead 77-28-4, 99 players from the Beehive State between the two teams, yada yada yada...
In the bigger picture of things though, this series (or rivalry if you indeed want to call it that) really does its title of "The Battle of the Brothers". Call me crazy, but as a die-hard Aggie fan, I've never felt the kind of passionate hate toward Utah like I have toward the likes of New Mexico State or BYU. Like brothers do in real life, the Aggies and Utes fight once in a while and we might piss each other off a little bit sometimes, but we get over it and can shake hands afterward.
If nothing else, we can bond back together as brothers to go throw rocks at the assholes that nobody likes who live a little bit further down south on our street. Really much of the same can be said for Weber State and Southern Utah. For the most part, my mingling with fans of theirs leaves me thinking, "You guys are freakin alright!"
The best examples I can give were back in 2007 and 2009 as visiting fans wearing Aggie blue down at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Before the game, meandering through the U of U tailgate lot where their hardest of hardcore fans pregame, we could barely walk through there because people wanted us to stop, hang out, chat, offer us food, beers, or whatever. Everyone was cool as hell in there, and more than once. Sure, you might find a douchebag or two while visiting another stadium, but you'll get that anywhere, including USU. That welcoming vibe from the Ute fans speaks a lot, hence, me not having much bad to say about them.
NONETHELESS, WE FIGHT
For the first time in a long time, this actually looks like it will be a game between the Utes and Aggies. Utah has played its way into a BCS conference, and deservedly so. Utah State on the other hand has finally gotten back to respectability, making its first bowl game in 14 years last season, and not looking like we're slowing down.
While USU has come a long way, the Utes are still the superior team... but that superiority isn't overwhelming, and the Aggies have a very real shot at winning Friday. In order to do so, Gary Andersen is going to have to overcome a defensive prowess and mentality that he helped create down at Utah. The defensive tenacity down at Utah that Andersen helped create still carries on to this day from the assistants who were under him back then. They're big, strong, fast and relentless; the kind of defense that, when they get hungry, can do THIS to a team.
But under Andersen's leadership, USU's defense has made tremendous strides too, which could be a game-changer with how inconsistent Jordan Wynn's arm is and has been. USU was also fantastic against the run last Thursday, which they'll need to keep up to slow down John White.
IT COULD GO EITHER WAY, BUT...
Let's make one thing clear; even though Utah State has come a long way from two years ago, this game can't be viewed the same way as the 2010 game against BYU. The BYU fans want to claim it was a fluke or whatever, but myself and plenty others knew the Aggies were going to finally break the slump in that game. USU was tough, fast and hungry, while BYU was soft, slow and beaten down already at that point in the year.
This game is different. The gap hasn't closed yet between the Aggies and Utes. Not to say Utah State has no chance Friday, but a win would legitimately still be considered an upset. We expected the 2010 win over BYU because if you were up to speed on both programs, you knew USU was just the better team. Shaky as the Utes' offense may be, their defense is one of the best in the PAC-12, which means points are going to be hard to come by for USU. On the flip side, USU's defense still has plenty to prove and the Utes are still capable of scoring plenty of points.
And maybe the biggest thing with this is that Kyle Whittingham isn't going to let his guys go in thinking they've got this in the bag just because history is on their side. BYU rolled into town with that high-and-mighty attitude back in 2010 (big f***in surprise there coming from them, amirite?) and the Aggies punched them in the mouth to the tune of a 31-3 lead before playing it nice and conservative to close things out.
THE BATTLE OF THE BROTHERS
It's finally a legitimate battle again. The Utes are favored, but not by a lot, and everyone who has been paying attention to these two teams knows that the Aggies very well could make a few big plays to pull out a win Friday. And don't forget that Utah State's program wouldn't be where it is now if it weren't for one of Utah's own in Gary Andersen. He's the new shining beacon of brotherly love between the Utes and Aggies.
An win on Friday would obviously bring a lot more positive to the USU program than it would bring positives for the Utes if they come out victorious, which makes it that much more important for the Aggies. Still, showing that progress and earning those wins is what they need to go out and do on the field.
There might be some smack talk and harsh words, and if USU wins, there's going to be a massive celebration. But just remember, family always comes back together after these fights. It could be the last time we see the Utes in Logan for a very long time too, so try to make the best of it that you can.