Gameday Guide: BYU at Utah State

Utah State (2-2) will host to BYU (1-3) in a Friday night game on Merlin Olsen Field in Logan. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. MT.

“It is a big rivalry to us,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “It gets our guys excited. The stadium will be electric Friday night. I know the students are all fired up. The student crowd I know will be sold out, and I expect the general crowd to be capacity, as well.”

<h4>WHAT IS ON THE LINE?</h4>

A Utah State loss or win won’t affect its conference standings, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot at stake.

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First off, the Wagon Wheel. The series dates back to 1922, and the Old Wagon Wheel trophy has been a part of it since 1948. The winning team keeps the wheel until the next meeting.

USU last won the wheel in 2014 when the Aggies won 35-20 in Provo, but the Cougars took it back the next year with a 23-point win in Logan the following meeting.

It will be the 87th meeting between the schools. BYU leads the series with 48 wins to USU’s 35. There have been three ties.

BYU punter Jonny Linehan even sung Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” during the team’s press conference earlier this week.

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Not only would Utah State like a win against its rival, but a win would get the Aggies one step closer to becoming bowl eligible, something the team missed last year. BYU may be even more desperate. The Cougars are 1-3, and another loss would match the Cougars’ worst start since 2010.

<h4>HOW TO WATCH &amp; LISTEN</h4>

If you can’t make it to the stadium, the game can be viewed on CBS Sports Network. For Comcast customers in Utah, that is Channel 269 or 753HD. It is Channel 158 for DISH users and Channel 221 on DirecTV.

“KVNU Gameday” with Al Lewis and Craig Hislop will begin at 4 p.m and will be broadcast on location at Locker 42 on 42 S. Main in Logan. Tune in at 610 AM and 102.1 FM or listen online at kvnutalk.com or on the KVNU mobile app. Radio coverage on KVNU will continue with “Aggie Call” once the game concludes.

<h4>THE COUGARS</h4>

It is unclear who will start at quarterback for BYU. It could be Tanner Mangum, but that seems unlikely. The junior starter sat out last week after getting hurt Sept. 9 against Utah. It could be Beau Hoge, who got his first career start during the team’s most recent game, a 40-6 loss at home to Wisconsin.

Hoge completed 11 of his 19 passes for 111 yards and two interceptions against the Badgers.

“Beau Hoge is a good quarterback,” Wells said, “and he’s athletic, more athletic than I think people want to realize or maybe even give him credit for.”

BYU failed to score a touchdown against Wisconsin and has only managed three touchdowns in four games this year.

But the competition has been tough for the Cougars. Each of its three losses – LSU, Utah and Wisconsin – were against opponents currently ranked in the Top 25.

The BYU offense is averaging less than 10 points per game, but is playing well on the other side of the ball. Wells said the Cougar defense is strong and physical and can rush the passer.

“Any time you’re facing a defense by Ilaisa Tuiaki and Kalani Sitake, I’ve got a lot of respect for them,” he said. “I’ve gone against those guys a lot in my career and have a lot of respect for what they do.”

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