Aug 27, 2013

Utes are still an uphill battle for the Aggies

Poke your head around the internet. It seems like a whole lot of Utah State fans have got a win on Thursday for the Aggies written in ink. After an 11-2 season in 2012, returning a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and a win over the Utes in the second game of last year, you can understand where that excitement is coming from.

If you ask me though, this is still an uphill fight for the Aggies. Here's why...

Not going to dive any further back than last year with the history of the series. Neither team's current state is at all reflective of where they were even just three years ago.

As good of a season as the Aggies had and as bad as the Utes struggled in 2012, both teams were about as even as you could get when the season was still young. It feels like many have forgotten that the Aggies needed the Utes to miss a field goal at the end of regulation for that game to even go to overtime. And while USU went on to more great success than the Utes did last year, the Aggies were fortunate enough to stay largely injury-free, while Utah was suddenly down one starting quarterback.

Still, despite all the big plays the Aggies made last year, the Utes kept their cool and made the plays they needed to in order to stay right there through 60 minutes of football. And that was on the road in front of possibly the most rocking crowd Romney Stadium has ever seen. Keeping your composure gets a lot easier for the Utes at home.

tl;dr - These teams were pretty much even on the field a year ago from right now.

I don't feel it's outlandish to think that the Aggies have a more seasoned roster of players. That goes a long way, especially going into a tough road game.

Still, look at the recent recruiting classes for the Utes. Even though there's plenty of parody in the whole star ratings systems of major recruiting outlets, there's still at least something you can take from it all. If Aggie fans saw that many stars next to their signing classes, we'd be partying our asses off with the excitement for what the future could hold.

Obviously, you still have to develop that talent. It's probably fair to say that USU's roster has developed phenomenally well, and certainly at least as well, but probably much better than the bulk of Utah's roster. Still, the Utes have a lot of very good athletes with the potential to be very good football players. And with a whole offseason to figure out where they went wrong last year and refocus everything they want to do, you've got to think that's going to make them that much tougher.

Yeah, I get that a lot of the news out of camp for them hasn't been overly optimistic, but it would be naive to think that every one of those highly-touted recruits at each position has turned out to be a total bust. They'll have guys still capable of making plays, even at positions that might have appeared to be weak spots in camp.

tl;dr - The Utes have pulled in highly rated recruiting classes with a lot of players capable of thriving on game day.

Utah isn't quite the team that they were back in 2010 finishing near the top of the Mountain West Conference. Their 5-7 season in 2012 was bad, but also came partly at the hands of a pretty tough PAC 12 schedule.

Simply put, if you took this current Utah team and put them back in the Mountain West, they would still probably be picked to be among the top teams in the conference along with Utah State, Boise State, Fresno State, San Jose State, and San Diego State. Playing any of those teams is going to be a hell of a battle, especially when you have to go on the road.

Utah State was great at that in conference play last year, winning both of the biggest road games in WAC play against San Jose State and Louisiana Tech. But that doesn't mean it was easy. The fact that the Aggies pull out wins in both of those games is so much of what made last season special.

The Utes may be down from where they were a few years ago, but not as far as many people might think.

tl;dr - Utah has struggled in the PAC 12, but still has the talent to be a MWC contender if they were back where their glory days happened.

Utah State is going to be good this season. Very good even. But even with all the talent the Aggies have, every road game is still a battle. Especially when it's on the road against an in-state rival eager to prove they haven't fallen as far as many think they have. On the flip side of that, the Aggies want to prove last year wasn't a fluke and that they won't miss a beat under the new leadership of Matt Wells.  

The USU defense is simply spectacular, but Utah also has a handful of offensive playmakers capable of pulling off some big plays. And with the Aggies lacking the proven offensive weapons they had a year ago, scoring points won't come easily. You can have a very good quarterback, but if no playmakers step up around him, their overall performance can suffer (see Diondre Borel of 2010).

This game is going to be tough for both teams, with both of them having their own advantages to bring to the table. In my own opinion, I think anyone predicting a slam-dunk win for either team is getting too carried away in one side of the excitement. This should be an epic battle all over again, just like we saw in 2012.

If another thriller is what we get out of it, all I can say to that is "Hell yeah!" Last year's game was unbelievably exciting with two good teams battling it out to a thrilling finish. And with the emotion coming from both sides, as well as both sides out to prove something, the 2013 Battle of the Brothers might be the most intriguing entry this series has ever had.

tl;dr - This is going to be a hell of a game that you won't want to miss. 

1 comment:

  1. History doesn't play football games, teams do. Since USU is the better team, they should win.