The 2011 Utah State Aggies are well acquainted with the dreadful feeling of having a win within their grasp and then squandering the lead in the final minute. No team in the country has been more snakebitten this season than the Aggies when it comes to blowing a lead in the final minute of a game and ending up with a loss.
In the first game of the season, the Aggies had the most monumental upset in program history within reach, as they led defending national champions Auburn with only a few minutes left. Utah State then squandered a double-digit lead and left Alabama with a loss. The collapse included multiple egregious errors on special teams.
After the Auburn game, the Aggies continued to lose in the final minute of games. First, they lost to Colorado State in overtime after having multiple chances to win. The most painful blow came one week later, when the Aggies lost against hated in-state foe BYU on a deflected touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining.
As the season progressed, the Aggies seemed to put the late-game collapses behind them. They finished with a regular season record of 7-5, including an epic comeback win against Hawaii. Those victories allowed Utah State to make their first bowl appearance since 1997, in the Idaho Potato Bowl.
For most of the bowl game, the Aggies appeared destined for victory. Behind a dominating run game, Utah State controlled the tempo of the game and entered the fourth quarter with a six-point lead. The Ohio Bobcat defense had no answer for the tandem of Michael Smith and Robert Turbin, who both gained over 100 yards.
The Aggies couldn't close the game out, however, giving the Bobcats one last shot at a game-winning drive with about two minutes remaining. The game hinged on a 4th-and-5 inside the red zone with less than one minute remaining.
The Aggies blitzed, but Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton managed to lob a pass to LaVonn Brazill that (after lengthy review) gave the Bobcats a 1st-and-goal from the 6-inch line with 34 seconds remaining in the game.
Aggie fans could only watch in horror as Tettleton scrambled to his right on a broken play and found his path to the end zone open. The PAT gave the Bobcats a one-point victory.
Unfortunately for Utah State, their late-game struggles were very much alive and well. After a hiatus for the second half of the season, those struggles made an unwelcome return and cost the Aggies a bowl victory.