BOISE (ABC4 Sports) – Utah State’s dreams of its first Mountain West Conference championship ended once again on the blue turf in Boise.
Brett Rypien threw for 310 yards and a touchdown, while Alexander Mattison rushed for 200 yards and three scores, and the No. 21 Broncos beat No. 14 Utah State 33-24 on Saturday night, ending the Aggies 10-game winning streak and their hopes at their first Mountain West title.
The Aggies lost their 9th straight game in Boise dating back to 1996.
Boise State (10-2, 7-1), which has won seven straight since losing to San Diego State on Oct. 6, will host Fresno State for the Mountain West championship next Saturday in a rematch from last season.
“We didn’t have enough when it mattered most,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “We continued to battle and found a way back into it. But obviously we couldn’t make a play at the end.”
“When you get in these moments, you get more confidence and you know you’re capable of doing it,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Our defense had its backs against the wall and our offense went out and supported them. And when our offense had its back to the wall, our defense supported them. And that’s what this team is all about.”
Utah State (10-2, 7-1) had its 10-game winning streak snapped and had its hopes dashed of earning a berth to one of the New Year’s Six bowls.
Despite a 363-yard passing performance by Jordan Love, Utah State never seemed to find a rhythm on offense.
The Broncos relied on a bend-but-don’t-break defense as the offense struggled to land a knockout blow in a tight game throughout.
In a see-saw affair early, the game seemed to turn in Boise State’s favor after a big gamble by the Aggies.
Trailing 10-7 early in the second quarter, Utah State faked a punt on fourth-and-1 from its own 34 on a direct snap to tight end Dax Raymond. But Boise State, which had its defensive unit on the field, stuffed Raymond at the line of scrimmage.
“We’ve been holding that play for a while and that was confirmed the first two times they punted,” Wells said. “We thought it was there, but they just made a better play. And that’s on me.”
Boise State promptly responded with a scoring drive that took seven plays and overcame a pair of personal fouls, culminating on a 1-yard run by Mattison.
The Aggies stayed within striking distance late in the fourth quarter after Gerold Bright took a screen pass from Love and raced 83 yards for the touchdown.
But Boise State drove right back down the field, scoring on another 1-yard run by Mattison to ice the victory.
Jalen Greene led Utah State with eight receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown, while Aaren Vaughns had seven catches for 107 yards – both career highs.
Chase Christiansen led the Aggies’ defensive effort with a career-high 15 tackles. Sophomore linebacker David Woodward added 11 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks. It was his seventh double-digit tackle outing of the season.
Wells was emotional when talking what he said in addressing his team after the game.
“I sure didn’t have a speech prepared for that,” Wells said. “I didn’t think about it one minute. I was very confident coming into the game. There’s a lot of hurt and pain in that locker room — and I think that’s reflective of how much they’ve put into this in preparation since January. But we have a good year and we’ve got another game left.”
Utah State now awaits to hear where it will be playing in a bowl game.