LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - The last time the Utah State football team won nine games in a season was 1961. The Aggies (8-2) can equal that win total with a win at #19 Louisiana Tech Saturday afternoon, and if they do, they will claim their first WAC championship.
"It's late in the year and we're playing meaningful games in November," said head coach Gary Andersen. "That was the goal when we got here, to get late in the year and play big games."
"The WAC championship has been one of our goals all year," said quarterback Chuckie Keeton. "To have it come against Louisiana Tech, a team we lost to last year, is big. Being able to play in a game like this is kind of what you live for. Since we don't have a playoff system, this is our championship game."
"Of course we have a lot at stake for this fan base and this organization," added wide receiver Matt Austin. "We know what is at stake, but we just got to go out there and attack the game just like every other game."
But this is not like every other game, and Louisiana Tech is not like every other team. The Bulldogs have the #1 ranked offense in the country, averaging over 53 points per game, and they try to run a play every 15 seconds.
"They must be in great shape to be able to hold up that tempo," said linebacker Kyle Fackrell. "They just wear defenses down and that's where a lot of their big plays come from."
The Bulldogs (9-1) put up 57 points on Texas A&M, the team that just beat top-ranked Alabama. Quarterback Colby Cameron has thrown for 27 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Cameron is the only quarterback in the nation without an interception. The Bulldogs offense is also very balanced, as running back Kenneth Dixon has piled up 1,052 yards and 24 touchdowns.
"They are very potent," said Andersen. "To do what these guys have done is special. They've been a good offense in the years past, but the difference this year is their ability to run the football."
Utah State's defense has had a lot of success this year, especially early in the game. The Aggies are one of just two teams in the entire country to not allow a first quarter touchdown.
Meantime, Louisiana Tech's defense is not good, giving up over 36 points per game. The Aggies feel like they will be able to score plenty of points themselves.
"We're going to put up points," said Austin. "We see a lot of holes in their defense."
As good as Utah State's season has been, it's hard not to think what might have been. The Aggies' two losses have been by a total of five points, so they could easily be undefeated right now. But they say they are not looking back.
"We don't look in the past at all," said Andersen. "But when you're a good football team, you're going to be involved in close games. We expect to play well [Saturday], but I am very proud of the way they handled those losses and got themselves ready to play the next week."
Utah State will be heavy favorites in their final game of the season against Idaho, so a win over the Bulldogs would all but assure Utah State of its first ever 10-win season.
"The historical significance of getting 10 wins would be big for us," said Austin. "Especially for our fans, I'm so excited for them."
"It's definitely exciting," Keeton said about the atmosphere around Logan. "There is a lot of buzz going on around here, and we all know the magnitude of this game."
Utah State and Louisiana Tech will kick off at 2:00 p.m. mountain time Saturday in Rustin, Louisiana.