PROVO – The cheers and yells coming from the Utah State football team after the dominating 45-20 win over BYU could be heard far outside the visiting locker room Friday night. The team had just recorded its largest margin of victory over BYU since 1968, and did it on the road. Aggie head coach Matt Wells pointed out that it was the first time Utah State had beaten BYU in back-to-back seasons since 1974, just one year after he was born.
“It’s a really good rivalry,” he said, “so when you can win a game like that our guys are going to celebrate.”
But Wells also stressed that it was a non-conference game, and that his team will need to keep it in perspective.
“It doesn’t put us in a bowl game,” Wells said. “It doesn’t put us in the Mountain West Championship in the month of November.”
Senior Jontrell Rocquemore said he and his teammates are “soaking it all in,” but his thoughts mirrored his coach’s when he was asked what the win means.
“We played for the (Old Wagon) Wheel, we played for history, things like that,” he said. “But it didn’t affect what we want our end goal to be which is a Mountain West Championship. Going into this game we knew that it was going to be a big one, they were going to come out and be physical, but in a day its a game. It’s not in our league, its not in the Mountain West.”
A Mountain West Championship has been the goal for USU since the team joined in 2013, but it has yet to accomplish it. USU went to the conference championship game the first year in the league, but then lost to Fresno State 24-17. After a blowout 52-26 win over Boise State to start the conference slate 3-0 in 2015, it appeared Utah State was on track for another championship appearance, but the team dropped three of its last five Mountain West games. Wells said the team will need to rely on its maturity and experience to avoid a similar fate.
“If our guys will remain coachable and they can handle praise and handle criticism at the same time and continue to work, its just going to be one week at a time and that is what we are going to have to do,” he said. “Real talk, in 2015 we lost a couple of close games and we kind of lost a little bit of mojo. That’s football, you win a couple games and you get mojo and the mojo starts rolling downhill. We’re going to have to win some close games coming up.”
Thanks to its win over Air Force, USU is already 1-0 as the team returns to conference play next week with a homecoming game against UNLV. It’s the first of seven-week conference stretch with no byes that will wrap up on the road at conference-favorite Boise State.
“We’ve got seven-straight weeks of one game at a time,” Wells said, “but can we win each round and put ourselves in a position in November to compete for a championship.”