The Utah State football team is going back to Boise.
For the second straight year the 10-2 WAC champion Aggies — who fell to Ohio in overtime last year — will return to the blue Smurf turf at Bronco Stadium, home of Boise State, to do battle with a to-be-determined opponent from the Mid-American Conference.
“Being a champion is a great thing for these kids. To have it outright, that’s a big time, big deal,” said USU head coach Gary Andersen after the Aggies’ win over Idaho. “I’m so thankful and grateful to be here and to be part of this university, for the opportunity that Mr. (Scott) Barnes and President (Stan) Albrecht gave me four and a half years ago and to be surrounded by these kids.”
His kids — most of which are returning (the Aggies will only graduate 18 seniors) — include quarterback Chuckie Keeton and running back Joe Hill, both of whom will only be juniors. One senior, receiver Matt Austin, however, will be missed next season — along with cornerback Will Davis.
That said, the Aggies are ready to right their wrongs from last year’s Boise trip.
“I’ve been talking about it, I was almost positive we were going to go back there, mostly because of the fanbase. That’s one of the biggest things. If there’s one thing that I love, it’s our fan base. I feel like it’s a good opportunity for us to go back to Boise,” said Austin. “It’s going to be even better. It’s going to be great, I’m excited, and we just need to win. That’s our goal. It’s a great bowl, we just didn’t come out on top last year.”
Utah State’s opponent in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will be announced following the MAC Championship game this weekend in Detroit.
Utah State is also ranked in the BCS for the first time in school history — and is ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Aggies fans are probably just a bit nervous considering that no fewer than seven head coaching jobs have popped up — and USU head coach Gary Andersen is a prime candidate in all but a few.
Luckily for those fans, the one job that many thought he’d take — Kentucky — was filled today by Mark Stoops, leaving just Cal and Colorado as potential hitching posts for Andersen and his staff.
Though the Utah grad has been steadfast in proclaiming his allegiance to Utah State, there are those who still believe he’d bolt — if the price was right.
But for a team now headed to the Mountain West Conference, a step up from the soon-to-be defunct Western Athletic Conference is a welcome move for Andersen and his Aggies.
Utah State has enjoyed an unprecedented season in the WAC, one it hasn’t had since 1960. So for Aggies fans to be able to make the three-hour trip up north to watch their team play will probably be enough incentive for Andersen to stay at least one or two more years.
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