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Friday, October 30, 2015

Utah State football: Aggies seeking rebound against one-win Wyoming

By on 7:28 PM
The goals remain intact, even if the winning streak is over and the previously unobstructed path to a championship has been made more hazardous.

When Utah State tackles Wyoming on Friday, the Aggies must rebound from their most mistake-filled and disappointing performance of the season.

If they don't, their share of first place in the Mountain West will likely disappear. Their hope of playing in the conference championship game probably goes with it.

Just a week ago, Utah State was flying higher than the charter airplane taking it to San Diego State.

The Aggies capped a three-game winning streak with a 52-26 blitz of Boise State. They faced the Aztecs with a chance to build on what was suddenly a clear advantage in the Mountain Division race.

Four USU turnovers and 336 Aztec rushing yards later, San Diego State cruised to a 48-14 win that left Aggie Nation wondering if the Boise State win had been a mirage.

"We got beat, that's the bottom line," coach Matt Wells said. "We didn't get off blocks. We didn't make good adjustments as coaches. It was all the way around. Things just didn't go right and we have to fix it. We have to get it right because Wyoming is going to try to do the same thing."

Utah State is 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain West with five regular-season games remaining, including a non-league finale against BYU.

The Aggies can still win the Mountain Division title without any help. They already own the head-to-head tiebreaker against Boise and they can hand Air Force its second league loss on Nov. 14 in Colorado Springs.

"We're where we deserve to be," Wells said. " We didn't play well enough to win two non-conference games and we're 3-1 in the conference. Would I like to change it and be 4-0? Yeah. But our goal is the win the Mountain West and that's still right in front of us."

Wyoming's season has been a mess, starting with a 27-14 loss to North Dakota of the Big Sky Conference in the opener. The Cowboys are 1-7 overall and 1-6 in the Mountain West.

Still, Wells is wary.

Utah State beat the Cowboys last season, 20-3, and Wyoming shocked Nevada two weeks ago, 28-21.

"I've got a lot of respect for coach [Craig] Bohl and this staff," Wells said. "I remember going into the game last year knowing it was going to be a tough, physical fight. And it was.

"Now we get them in Logan but I expect a similar type of toughness from them. They are a tough program. They're going to run the ball downhill, I know that. They're going to establish that and we have to stop it."

Problem: Utah State could not stop San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey. He rushed for 181 yards and Wyoming might have a running back who's just as capable.

In only eight games, sophomore Brian Hill is already the first Cowboy since 2008 to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He averages 5.9 yards per carry.

"He's a strong, physical, downhill runner who we have a lot of respect for," Wells said. "We did going into the game last year and we absolutely did coming out of the game. He's one of the better backs in the league. We're going to have to play well on defense."

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