Courtesy of Utah State Athletic Media Relations
The football team will return to action this Saturday after a bye week and the Bulldogs will face the Utah State Aggies, an opponent Fresno State must not overlook.
The Bulldogs are 21-18-1 all-time in head-to-head play against Utah State. The last defeat the Bulldogs suffered in the series was in 2006, a 13-12 loss at Romney Stadium.
â€œWe remember that loss very well,â€ coach Pat Hill said. â€œWe got the best of them last year, but if you sleep on any team in Division I football, the outcome will be negative.â€
The Bulldogs won the meeting last season at Bulldog Stadium, 38-27, and in the last 12 meetings the Bulldogs have had moderate success over the Aggies with a record of 8-3-1.
However, quarterback Tom Brandstater was not satisfied with the 45-32 win against Idaho two weeks ago at Bulldog Stadium.
â€œWe did get the â€˜W,â€™ but it shouldnâ€™t have ever been that close,â€ Brandstater said. â€œWe need to start winning convincingly against teams like Idaho and Utah State.â€
During the bye week, Brandstater received some good news. The senior signal-caller was notified that he was named as one of ten finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award recognizes the top senior quarterback in the nation, but the winner will not be determined until the end of the season.
Favorites to win the award include: Chase Daniel of Missouri, Pat White of West Virginia, John Parker Wilson of Alabama and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech.
â€œItâ€™s an honor to even be a candidate among such talented players,â€ Brandstater said. â€œI attribute every success that Iâ€™ve had to my teammates, and I feel being a finalist recognizes the whole team effort.â€
David Carr received the honor in 2001, but Brandstater said he is focused more on winning games than winning accolades.
â€œIâ€™ll trade an accolade in for a win any day,â€ Brandstater said. â€œMy focus is solely on picking up a win on the road at Utah State this week.â€
The road has been the Bulldogsâ€™ friend so far this year. The team is 3-0 in away games while 1-2 at home.
Hill feels there is no explanation for the better play away from home.
â€œThatâ€™s just how it works out sometimes,â€ said Hill. â€œWe dropped a couple games that could have went our way at home, and pulled a couple close ones out on the road.â€
The Bulldogs come into the game with a record of 4-2 (1-1 WAC), while the Aggies enter the contest at 1-6 (1-2 WAC). In order to keep pace with Boise State, Fresno state must win their next five conference games. The Broncos are currently ranked No. 12 in the nation.
â€œWe have to win out to have our last game at Boise mean something,â€ Hill said. â€œIt starts with winning one game at a time.â€
The upcoming trip to Logan, Utah will be a little different than previous road games played this year. The Aggies have an elevation advantage; Romney Stadium is at 4,534 feet, which is the seventh highest elevated place to play at in the nation.
The elevation will test the Bulldogâ€™s conditioning, but Hill believes it wonâ€™t be a major factor in the game.
â€œWeâ€™re well conditioned and ready to go,â€ Hill said. â€œIf we lose, it wonâ€™t be due to the elevation.â€
Come Saturday, the Bulldogs will look to take the air out of Romney Stadium.
Getting to know the Utah State Aggies…
2007 Record: 2-10 (2-6 in WAC)
The story so far: The Aggies came into the season with high hopes, but Utah State has only one win on the season. The Aggies are 1-6, but all of their losses are to respectable opponents, including BYU, Utah, Oregon and San Jose State. Utah State has new facilities and new field turf for its stadium, but are still waiting for a new start for the team. Coach Brent Guy is 7-35 in his career with the Aggies.
Impact Players: Offense – Quarterback Diondre Borel – The Aggies have rotated quarterbacks in the first half of the season, but seemed to have settled on the sophomore. Borel is a dual-threat quarterback and leads Utah State in both passing and rushing. He is averaging 183 yards per game and has scored nine touchdowns this season.
Defense – Linebacker Jake Hutton – The defense has struggled this season, but has found some stability at the middle linebacker position with Hutton. The senior has 57 tackles this season, including five tackles for loss. Hutton will play a major role in the Utah State run defense.
The Buzz: It is homecoming week in Logan, Utah, and the Aggies will be ready to play the Bulldogs. The last time these two teams met in Utah, the Aggies beat the Bulldogs 13-12 in what was a low point of the 2006 season. Fresno State coach Pat Hill says his team will not be looking back at the loss, but fans will be looking to see the Bulldogs avenge the embarrassing upset.