TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (ABC4 Sports) – After squeaking past UConn in their season opener on Saturday, the competition gets just a little tougher this weekend for Utah State.
For just the third time in program history, Utah State will play the top-ranked team in the nation when the Aggies battle Alabama in Tuscaloosa this Saturday night.
“We’re going to play maybe the best team on the planet,” USU head coach Blake Anderson. “There’s just no weaknesses, there just aren’t.”
While Utah State is the decided underdog, Alabama head coach Nick Saban had nothing but high praise for the defending Mountain West Conference champions.
“Utah State, Blake Anderson has done a really good job there,” said Saban, who has won six national titles with the Crimson Tide. “This team can play in any conference and do well. They ended up a top-25 team a year ago. They won 11 games and beat a couple of Pac-12 teams. They’ve got like 12 starters back. They were one of the most effective passing teams in the country. These guys are very aggressive on defense.”
While both coaches have respect for one another, both Anderson and Saban say they need to focus on their own team, not their opponent.
“This is really kind of about us, how we prepare to play, what we need to do against a really good opponent,” Saban said. “So that’s going to be the emphasis all week long for us.”
Anderson said his team can’t be intimidated to the stature of Alabama, or this game could be over quickly.
“A huge challenge for our guys, we’re going to focus on us, focus on getting better,” Anderson said. “We cannot focus on Alabama this week or we’ll go in starry-eyed, look up and it will be halftime and the game will be over.”
In Utah State’s other two games against top-ranked teams, the Aggies lost to BYU in 1984 and to Nebraska in 1971.
Utah State and Alabama kick off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday night.