LOGAN — Utah State demonstrated a flair for the dramatic in almost every game last season, including its conference contests. While 10 of USU’s 13 games were decided by one score or less, six of those seven nail-biters took place in the WAC.
That’s far from the case so far this season. After a 38-7 romp of Texas State Saturday at Romney Stadium, the Aggies have defeated four conference opponents by almost 30 points per game — not a bad fashion in becoming the first eight-win USU team since 1974, and just the 10th in school history.
“It surely is a different feel,” USU coach Gary Andersen said of the league dominance. “But it’s a tremendous thing to continually get a fourth quarter with young players. Those game reps are invaluable.”
Chuckie Keeton’s four touchdown passes all came in the first half as USU (8-2, 4-0 WAC) posted a season-high in total yards (593) against the Bobcats (3-5, 1-2). With 129 yards rushing, Kerwynn Williams became just the 11th player in Aggie history to reach the 1,000-yard single-season rushing mark. The two helped set a school record by scoring 38-plus points in four straight games.
Despite the offensive successes, the other side may have been better: the defense allowed it fewest yards (158) this season and least in four years.
The Aggies, who played in front of 17,222 fans, turn their focus towards their Nov. 17 showdown at 22nd-ranked Louisiana Tech, also unbeaten in WAC play after defeating UTSA Saturday.
Texas State only managed to cross midfield for three plays after their opening drive. It proved fruitless after USU cornerback Will Davis intercepted quarterback Shaun Rutherford in the end zone with at 5:43 in the first quarter.
Davis’ third interception in as many games began a long afternoon for Rutherford. The senior was replaced in the quarter, finishing 8-of-15 for 71 yards while suffering three sacks (though he did notch 11 carries for 38 yards). Junior signal-caller Tyler Arndt hardly improved the situation, going 2-of-8 for just five yards.
Freshman defensive end Jordan Nielsen, who recorded a career-high seven tackles against the Bobcats, said defense’s effort probably was the best of the season — an effort and confidence especially proved true after Texas State’s first drive.
“We didn’t make any adjustments. (Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda) just told us to step it up and we stepped it up,” Nielsen said. “They shouldn’t have been able to move the ball down on us like that as long as we were hustling and playing hard.”
USU and LTU the only remaining unbeaten teams in conference play and the other five having two WAC defeats or more. With a bye next week, the Aggies are assured to enter Ruston, La., atop the WAC, meaning the Aggies and Bulldogs may be playing Nov. 17 for what Williams described as the conference title game.
“I know it might be a little bit early for that, but this could definitely take us to the next step in accomplishing our goals,” Williams said. “(The bye) is coming at a good time, considering who we are playing next.”