BYU vs. Utah State: Brotherly Love? Evaluating an In-State Rivalry

Nathan RobiteContributor IOctober 8, 2008

Last Friday, the BYU Cougars traveled north to play their in-state rivals, often considered their little brother, Utah State.  Many people, myself included, had their predictions on what the outcome of the game would be. 

Let's take a look at the latest history in this rivalry. 

Utah State has not beaten BYU since 1993, a 58-56 shootout victory in Logan.

The last time the Cougars were in Logan, the Aggies played a good half of football. Problem was, it was a good half. The Aggies surrendered a 34-7 halftime to lead to lose 35-34. 

Coming into this game, the Cougars looked unstoppable.  The Aggies looked like a sieve.  The Aggies surrendered 66 points to Oregon and 58 to the University of Utah.

The Cougars were coming off a bye week after putting 103 on their last two opponents while shutting them both out.

Well, BYU could just come strolling into Romney Stadium and make themselves at home, couldn't they?

For the first 15 minutes, it sure seemed so.

On BYU's first possession, Max Hall threw a curl route pass to Austin Collie. Collie streaked down the sideline, stiff-arming USU's Caleb Taylor, en route to a 76-yard touchdown reception.  7-0 Cougars.

On the ensuing possession, Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel was hit and lost the ball.  Cougar defensive back Brandon Bradley scooped up the ball and ran it to the end zone to put BYU up 14-0.

Utah State's third possession started picking up steam.  Steadily moving the ball to midfield, Borel was hit yet again and coughed up the ball.  BYU recovered and converted that turnover into a field goal, 17-0 BYU.

Next Aggie drive, first play was a Borel pass that was tipped and intercepted by linebacker David Nixon.  On the very next play, Harvey Unga ran 24 yards through the Aggie defense to put BYU comfortably ahead 24-0.

Upon the end of the first quarter, many thought BYU would steamroll another opponent. Turns out, they thought too fast.

In the second quarter, the signs were starting to appear.  Suddenly BYU couldn't pull together a drive.  Where is this offense that is supposed to be unstoppable?  Did they realize they were the talented older brother playing the weaker, younger brother? 

In the beginning of the second half, they added a field goal and another touchdown toss to Austin Collie to balloon the lead to 34-0. 

Down 34-0 to start the fourth would demoralize most teams.  But, as BYU would find out, it was not so with Utah State. 

Usually BYU is known for being a fourth-quarter team.  This time, the Aggies started pulling from theCougars playbook. 

Early in the fourth quarter, Utah State running back Robert Turbin raced past nearly every BYU defender for a 40 yard touchdown run.  There went the Cougars' bid for a third straight shutout. 

After getting a stop against the suddenly-anemic BYU offense, Utah State went back to work.  Efficiently working the ball down the field, Diondre Borel found Tarren Lloyd in the back of the end zone to make it 34-14. 

That's where the scoring ended, but the game told much more than that.

BYU recovered the onside kick and marched downfield.  By this time emotions were running high.  So high even BYU quarterback Max Hall got called for a personal foul.

The field goal that BYU attempted on that drive was blocked.  Utah State recovered and Nate Alletto laid the player out with a hit the Aggie seemed to not even notice.

It was apparent the tension was even affecting the referees.  The final drive of the game was extended by penalties on both teams in the red zone.

Final penalty tally?  BYU was flagged 12 times for 128 yards.  Utah State was hit nine times for 79.

Upon reflection of this game you have two sides to look upon.

If you're a Cougar, you're not as high and mighty as you thought.  You have things to improve if you wish to qualify for that precious BCS bid.

If you're an Aggie, you can hang your head high for not ever giving up.

BYU showed that if their offense can't hold drives together, their defense cannot carry the team by themselves.  Also. special teams is a question mark.  One field goal missed and one blocked means empty opportunities.

Utah State showed resilience in never saying die.  Diondre Borel was fearless in parading his troops down the field in the second half.

He even showed off his versatility in running about 20 yards to gain only about three.  He evaded nearly every Cougar defender, even refusing to go out of bounds. 

You have to wonder how the game would have been without those Aggie turnovers?  Had they not given the ball away three straight times, what would have been the outcome? 

Would BYU be able to stop them enough?  Would the Cougar offense feel the pressure and step up?

So, upon the end of this heated battle, let's take a look at the real facts. 

BYU is not the well-oiled machine that it's touted to be.

Utah State is perhaps better than their 1-4 record tells us they are.

Any way you look at it, they have another play date next year.  Here's hoping they play nice!


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