SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah and Utah state will renew their football rivalry on Thursday when they meet at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes and Aggies went in different directions after last year’s game, won by Utah State in overtime. While the Aggies went on to win a school-record 11 wins and number 16 national ranking, the Utes won just five games and did not go to a bowl game.
Did that loss affect how the Utes played the rest of the year?
“I think in a way it may have set the tone for a lot of things,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “You would like to think were able to put it behind us, but I think it lingered for a while, without a doubt. I didn’t handle it the best, I’ll put that squarely on my shoulders.”
“It’s been weighing on us a lot,” said Utah defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi. “That loss depicted the rest of our season. We didn’t expect to lose to them, and when they came out and punched us in the mouth it caught us off guard. But, we’re ready this year.”
Utah State has a new head coach in Matt Wells, but he knows all about the rivalry between the Utes and the Aggies.
“It is a person game,” said Wells. “We have recruited a lot of those kids. I know a lot of those guys on that staff. You’ve to rivalries between cousins, high school rivalries, high school teammates. You’ve got a lot of storylines going across both sides of the field.”