While it may not get the national attention that most traditional rivalries do, the Battle of the Brothers showdown between Utah and Utah State will captivate the west coast this Friday night.
Utah started the 2012 season off in style, with a 41-0 victory over Northern Colorado. While that was not exactly the biggest test, a rivalry game against the Aggies will go a long way towards determining just where the Utes are right now.
Utah State is playing its second consecutive inter-state game after dispatching of Southern Utah last Thursday. The Aggies will look to end a 12-year losing streak in this rivalry game. During the streak, they have been outscored 354-144.
Where: Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah
When: Friday, September 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN 2
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: ESPN 700 (Utah); KVNU Radio (Utah State)
Betting Line: Utah (-4.5), according to Vegas Insider
Utah Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: DT Niasi Leota (Appendectomy); DT Junior Salt (Foot); DB Lewis Walker (Leg); WR Anthony Denham (Shoulder); DB Brian Blechen (Suspended); DB Keith McGill (Shoulder); OL Marc Pouvave (Achilles)
Utah State Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: QB Adam Kennedy (Shoulder)
What's At Stake?
Other than state bragging rights, both teams need to prove themselves against FBS competition after dealing with two Big Sky schools in the first week.
Utah State has far more up for grabs in this game, just because this program needs the confidence boost of beating Utah after so many disappointing performances in this rivalry.
A Utah loss can have far-reaching complications on their season, as the Utes try to make their mark in the Pac-12.
Utah Player to Watch: QB Jordan Wynn
After missing the last nine games of the 2011 season, Wynn had a solid, if unspectacular, return to the Utes against Northern Colorado. He went 19-for-27 with 200 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Utah's offense was inconsistent last season, even with Wynn at quarterback, so he has to find some way to make plays with his arm in the most difficult situations in order to give the team a chance to win.
Utah State Player to Watch: RB Joe Hill
Sophomore running back Joe Hill had easily the best game of his college career last week, with 116 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.
The 11 carries were four more than he had all of last season, and he surpassed his yards total by 92, so Hill is off to a good start.
The Aggies feature a run-heavy offense, so they need their running backs to be firing on all cylinders in order to avoid getting behind Utah early and forcing them to throw the ball.
Key Matchup: Utah State's Rushing Attack vs. Utah's Defensive Line
Whenever you see a team that relies so much on the run get behind, it is easy to predict what will happen the rest of the game.
Last week, Michigan was down by 21 after the first quarter against Alabama. Since Denard Robinson struggles to throw the ball, you knew that game was all but over.
I am not comparing Utah's defense to Alabama's—just trying to provide a little perspective. If Utah State can't run the ball, it is going to have a difficult time scoring.
Utah has had the magic formula against the Aggies for the better part of a decade, so it is up to Utah State to make changes necessary to win.
When all the dust is settled, Utah State is going to find a way to pull off the upset. I think the running game will do just enough to keep it close late, then quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who did throw for over 300 yards last week, will make a few plays at the end to put the Aggies over the top.
Utah State 27, Utah 23
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