LOGAN – In front of a “black out” crowd on Saturday night on Merlin Olsen Field, Utah State football left the stadium even more black and blue after a 42-14 loss to Brigham Young University. USU allowed 639 yards of total offense, the most since 2009.
“First of fall, BYU outplayed us. They deserved to win. They did, so congratulations to them,” head coach Gary Andersen said. “Other than that, you can ask all you questions you want. We got outplayed and we’re going to come back fighting. We’ve got some opportunities to do some things as a football team and we’re going to learn from it.”
After an opening three-and-out from the Aggies, BYU embarked on a 93-yard touchdown drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Each team fumbled on their ensuing possessions before USU evened the score with a 7-play, 86-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 26-yard TD pass from junior QB Jordan Love to senior WR Siaosi Mariner.
Senior RB Gerold Bright seemingly put the Aggies ahead, breaking several tackles and bursting into the clear, but the play was called dead before Bright emerged from the scrum.
On the next play, Love through his first interception of the game to Kavika Fonua, setting up a 16-yard TD run by Jaren Hall to put the Cougars ahead permanently. The Aggies showed resiliency several possessions later, marching deep into BYU territory before Love’s second INT of the game again shifted momentum to the Cougars. Off the turnover, BYU went 71 yards in seven plays to go up 21-7. Needing a score before halftime, the Aggies put together a fast-paced 86-yard drive over 11 plays, finished off by a 1-yard TD run by Bright to trim the deficit to 21-14 going into halftime.
“Hesitation for this offense kills us,” junior WR Jordan Nathan said. “We’re a pace team. We can’t have no type of hesitation. We’re also a momentum team as well so we can’t have any missed assignments, any penalties, any turnovers because that’s going to be a bad sign for this offense.”
After the break, the Aggies never truly threatened BYU’s lead. The Cougars opened the third quarter with a 75-yard TD drive to go up 28-14. Following another three-and-out by USU’s offense, the Cougars repeated the effort, going 68 yards for another score and increase the lead to 35-14.
Utah State moved into the red zone at the start of the fourth quarter on the heels of a 9-play, 79-yard drive but were unable to reach the end zone. The Aggies turned the ball over on downs at BYU’s 1-yardline, leading to a 10-play, 99-yard TD drive that pushed BYU’s lead to 42-14.
“The scheme is obviously to move forward as you go through the year to make sure you’re not trying to do things that you can’t be good at or you’re not good at,” Coach Andersen said. “I thought the staff did a pretty good job at giving ourselves a chance today to be successful offensively but we have to be able to finish drives.”
Love finished the game throwing for 394 yards on 29 of 49 passing with one touchdown and three INTs. Bright led the ground attack with 66 yards on 12 carries. Nathan tallied 133 yards receiving on seven catches, with Mariner finishing with 86 yards on five receptions.
Defensively, the Aggies were without their leading tackler and all-around leader, David Woodward. Without the All-American talent, USU struggled to defend both the passing and rushing attack of the Cougars, allowing 418 yards passing and 221 yards rushing. It was the first time the Aggies have surrendered over 400 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the same game since December 1, 2001 versus Fresno State.
“They’ll be a prideful group enough to bounce back and see what they’ll be able to get done,” Coach Andersen said. “(Woodward’s) a big part of that defense. It wasn’t good to not have him out there today. I wish he would’ve been there. He could’ve made a bit of a difference but he’s not gonna win the football game for us either so the defensive guys, the young players have to go and make plays.”
With the win, BYU re-secured the Wagon Wheel for the first time since 2016, celebrating further by blasting country music in the locker rooms as a reference to Utah State’s agricultural background.
“We’re not gonna take it lightly,” freshman CB Cam Lampkin said. “We’re gonna be pissed about it but we’ve gotta move on. We can’t hang our heads on this one. There’s some more games out there.”
Utah State stands at 4-4, needing two victories to clinch bowl eligibility. USU remaining schedule has the Aggies on the road next week at Fresno State before returning to Logan for a two-game home-stand versus Wyoming and Boise State. USU will close the regular season at New Mexico.
“I feel like a game like this,” Nathan said, “it helps us create a stepping stone for our offense and for our team and then we’ll just build off of what happened tonight.”
Kickoff at Fresno State is currently scheduled for Saturday at 5 pm MST.