ALBUQUERQUE (ABC4 Sports) – Utah State walked into the New Mexico Bowl with one of its best records in school history but uncertainty. Its head coach, Matt Wells, left to take the Texas Tech job. Interim coach Frank Maile had to prepare the Aggies with an army of graduate assistants and an announcement a new coach was coming next month.
North Texas, meanwhile, was coming into Albuquerque with experienced coach Seth Littrell and highly touted quarterback Mason Fine.
The Aggies pushed those distractions aside Saturday.
Jordan Love threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns and Jalen Greene had six catches for 151 yards and a score to help Utah State rout North Texas 52-13.
Maile directed the Aggies (11-2) even after Utah State announced former head coach Gary Andersen would return. However, Andersen opted not to attend the bowl game and let Maile finish what he started.
“Man, just winning felt great,” Maile said. “You know what I mean? An amazing win, and it was all due to these kids right here. Their preparation and focus, I thought the changes that went down is really a credit to them of how we won and continued to do what we had been doing all year long. We struck to the blueprint, and that was the outcome of the game. So great job by them.”
Love completed 21 of 43 passes with one interception. D.J. William had two interceptions, helping Utah State ground high-flying North Texas (9-4).
Aaren Vaughns caught two passes for 109 yards and two scores for the Aggies, Gerold Bright ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, and Darwin Thompson added 93 yards on 21 carries.
Maile said he did his best to get the offense ready. The rest was up the players, he said.
“The guys have lot of efforts to doing their jobs,” Maile said. The defense is set up for everybody to make plays.”
Love said receivers were able to get open, find space and get yards after the catch.
“I mean, really we were just making plays,” Love said. “We had a couple explosive plays in the passing game and stuff. I mean, in the first quarter we weren’t really moving it as well, I guess, but I don’t know, it’s just nothing really changes or anything, players just make plays at certain times.”
Fine was injured in the first quarter, and the Mean Green ended up using four quarterbacks. Jalen Guyton had four catches for 103 yards a score.
Littrell said Utah State was the best team the Mean Green faced all season. “We didn’t have enough in us today to make more plays to have success,” Littrell said.
This is the second time in school history that Utah State finished with 11 wins, matching the 11-2 record in Andersen’s last season with the Aggies in 2012.