LOGAN, Utah — 1978.
I wasn’t born. Chances are you weren’t either, and yet that’s how far you have to pour through the history books to find Utah State having started a season 3-0.
The Aggies opened up that year knocking off Idaho State, Colorado State and Fresno State in succession, and they’ve had good seasons since.
USU went 11-2 in 2012, and again in 2018. But even then, finding a way to dig up that Power Five upset on the road has been darn near impossible… until this season when this newest version actually pulled it off up in Pullman, Washington.
It took a fourth quarter rally to sneak past Washington State (certainly not the cream of the Pac-12 crop, but a historic win nonetheless).
I mean, not since Sept. 11, 1971 had a Utah State football beaten a Power Five outside of Logan. It was a shocker that led to another thrilling, come-from-behind win… and then another. In fact, one might wonder why the Aggies can’t just start scoring touchdowns a little quicker to make life easier on themselves.
They trailed FCS foe North Dakota 21-3 before the wagon wheels finally started churning in week two.
And even Saturday at Air Force, the Aggies trailed most of the way before a late surge of chunk-yardage touchdowns kept the whole rally cap theme going.
But why? And perhaps the even better question, how?
We all saw what happened a year ago — a dreadful 1-and-5, COVID-shortened campaign that had the Aggies giving up 146 more points than they scored.
Perhaps in today’s impatient world of college football, that’s precisely why coaching changes happen so abruptly. Because much of the time, they work.
Overseers know that new blood at the very top can often revive even the deadest of programs. Take Urban Meyer at Utah, for example, or even Bronco Mendenhall surgically repairing the damage done by Gary Crowton at BYU.
Under the guiding hand of Gary Andersen, Utah State was going nowhere. Matt Wells left things in decent shape, but Andersen’s second stint in Logan brought none of the same magic displayed during the first stint.
Enter, a new Anderson.
Blake Anderson made the leap from Arkansas State, even bringing a handful of players along with him. For Anderson, the USU job was an upgrade, but so was Blake’s coaching swag that has quickly translated into immediate victories. Sweat-em-out nail biters, for sure… but victories.
When will Anderson suffer his first loss in navy and gray? Well, that’s certainly around the corner, but to triple last year’s entire win total in less than a month is exactly what the doctor ordered for Aggie fans to start believing again.
And if they can somehow manage to shock Boise State in front of a network audience, rally or not Saturday, then, I think at that point, we’ll all start believing.