SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah State football team faces its toughest challenge of the season this Saturday, when the Aggies travel to Death Valley to take on the 5th-ranked LSU Tigers.
But the Aggies are embracing the opportunity.
“It will be a great place to play for our kids,” said Utah State head coach Gary Andersen. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing. Our team gets to fly across the country and go play these guys in that setting against a team that is that high nationally ranked, and a fan base that that a lot of fans.”
“They’re one of the best teams in the country,” said tight end Caleb Repp. “Talent-wise, they’re probably one of the best teams I’ve played throughout my career. So, it’s going to be a fun matchup. But, just like any team, on any Saturday they can be beat.”
The Tigers are led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who is third in the nation with 17 touchdown passes, and has a slew of NFL caliber receivers with which to work. But the Aggies aren’t going to be intimated.
“They’re an amazing group of wideouts, but I feel like we have an amazing group of cornerbacks as well,” Haney said. “We probably don’t get as much recognition as these higher tier programs. But I feel like the culture that we’ve built around here is we live for these moments.
But LSU isn’t going to take the Aggies lightly. They are fully aware of how good quarterback Jordan Love and fast-tempo Utah State offense is.
“He’s very smart, knows where to go with the ball,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said about Love. “He’s definitely a first round pick I do believe in the NFL, and will play in the NFL for a long time. He is an extremely good quarterback in all areas. The thing that makes their offense go is the speed. They go very, very fast. Faster than any team we’ve seen.”
The Aggies may be without leading rusher Jaylen Warren, who has a shoulder injury, but Gerold Bright stepped in last week and rushed 36 times for 179 yards against Colorado State.
“Gerold Bright had 179 yards rushing and his longest run is 15 yards,” Andersen said. “Come one, now. That’s a tough young man battling for those yards and just grinding it out. Jaylen was hurt, so he had to just keep on going and plugging when he was extremely tired, but he kept playing.”
Utah State has played this big name programs tough. The Aggies almost beat Michigan State last year. They’ve battled Wisconsin and Auburn to the final seconds in recent years. But they’re still looking for that breakthrough win.
“This is nothing new to us,” Haney said. “We understand that we have to finish games. That’s been our problem when we play Power-5 opponents is we always ‘Almost.'”
Utah State will kick off at LSU Saturday at 10:00 a.m. mountain time.