The Cougars (3-2) will play host to in-state foe Utah State (4-1), in a series that has heated up in intensity the past few years.
The Aggies have a recent history of struggles and being a bottom-feeder in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but are revitalized from their first winning season (7-6, 5-2 WAC) last year in 15 seasons.
Under fifth year head coach Gary Andersen, the Aggies are led by sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Quick and agile, Keeton is a dual-threat playmaker completing nearly 70 percent of passes for 1,281 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for 206 yards.
Senior running back Kerwynn Williams is also a key component in the Aggie offense and leads the team in rushing and receiving yards. The versatile Williams lines up in the backfield, in the slot and also returns kicks.
The Aggies are off to their best start since joining the WAC and are a missed field goal away from being perfect when Josh Thompson missed his 37-yard attempt at Wisconsin as time expired.
Heart-breaking losses have become a trend for Utah State as of late. In 2011, Utah State lost thrillers to defending-national-champion Auburn, Colorado State, San Jose State, Idaho, Ohio and BYU.
Last year at LaVell Edwards Stadium, quarterback Riley Nelson came off the bench to lead BYU to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Utah State, capped by a 11-yard touchdown on a deflected pass to Marcus Matthews.
The series between these teams has been owned by BYU as of late, winning 11 of the past 12 games. BYU had a streak of 10 straight victories against the Aggies until the streak was snapped in 2010 when the Aggies won 31-16.
BYU owns the overall series lead 44-34-3. The Aggies and Cougars battle for “the old wagon wheel” and this year’s game will be the of 82nd time they will square off since 1922.
The question still remains who will lead the BYU offense this weekend. Riley Nelson, who originally played as a true freshman for Utah State and then transferred to BYU, sat out of the Hawai’i game to recover but no word has been given yet regarding his health.
Freshman quarterback Taysom Hill led an effective offense against Hawai’i that produced a season-high 47 points.
The Cougars and Aggies will kickoff Friday night at 8:15 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will also be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.