LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – For the better part of the last four decades or so, BYU has dominated the battle for the Old Wagon Wheel.
But the Aggies have been in control the last two years, beating the Cougars both in Logan and in Provo. Utah State will try to win their third straight in the rivalry Saturday night at Maverik Stadium.
“In my opinion, if it’s one-sided and it’s lopsided and it never goes back and forth, it’s not a rivalry,” said Utah State head coach Gary Andersen. “Now, it’s definitely a rivalry. The guys see it and smell it. The fans do the same.”
“They’re going to come out ready to play, especially hating BYU how they do,” said BYU defensive back Dayan Ghanwoloku. “I saw something on Twitter that said Utah State is going to come out playing like they’re protecting their dairy farm. That’s how I feel, like they’re going to come out ready to protect their dairy farm, and we’re going to take over.”
The Aggies have milked last year’s 25-point blowout over the Cougars for a full year now, and they’ll be looking for their 3rd straight win over the Cougars for the first time since the early 1970’s.
“We brought our own energy,” said Aggies linebacker Tipa Galeai, who had a pick-6 in last year’s game. “We had a lot of momentum on our side, and I know that if we keep that same energy that we had last year and bring it into this week’s game, we’ll do really well. My teammates that I have, the defense and the offense that we have, we’ll come together this game and we’ll capitalize on everything that we need to.”
“You look back and you don’t want a repeat of what happened in previous years,” said BYU offensive lineman James Empey. “But you want to kind of learn from your mistakes.”
“I just want want the wheel back,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “That’s all that matters.”
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion against South Florida. But it will be a battle in practice between Hall and Baylor Romney, who just led the Cougars to a big win over Boise State, to see who starts.
“I think just competition, and seeing who gives us the best opportunity to win,” Sitake said. “That’s what it comes down to. They’ll be practicing, and they’ll both get turns with the ones and the twos.”
“I think they’re both excited to get an opportunity to play,” Empey said. “Both are working hard, working together and helping each other out.”
The Utah State offense is coming off a dismal performance against Air Force, as the Aggies were held to just 128 total yards and 7 points.
“I’m disappointed,” said quarterback Jordan Love, who has thrown for less than 200 yards in four straight games. “Obviously, there are a lot of areas we need to improve on and we’re just lacking on, but it’s there, we just need to go out and execute. Offensively it was not the game we wanted to play, not the game we wanted to go out there and put forth, but it happened. There are a lot of things that we need to fix and a lot of things to clean up in a lot of areas.”
“When you get yourself backed into a corner, and that’s where we are on offense, we’re backed into a corner,” added Andersen. “So you better fight your way out of it. If you start pointing fingers, then shame on you.”
BYU and Utah State will kick off at 8:00 p.m. Saturday night in Logan.