Feb. 28, 2008
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football will have six home games for the first time since 1998, including in-state rivals Brigham Young and Utah, as the Aggies' 2008 schedule was released Thursday.
USU will face seven teams that went to a bowl game last year, and the schedule includes five teams in the final national polls as the Aggies host No. 14 BYU and 19th-ranked Hawai'i while playing at No. 23 Oregon. Utah State also hosts Utah and travels to Boise State, both of whom were among others receiving votes.
"As a whole, the schedule reminds me a lot of the 2006 schedule when we had at least two home games every month of the season," USU head coach Brent Guy said. "I think the fun stretch for the fans will be starting on September 13 with the first of three consecutive home games with Utah, Idaho and BYU all at home with an open week before the BYU game, so that will be a fun stretch."
That stretch of three games are half of USU's total of six home games this season, the first time since 1998 and just the sixth time in school history.
"We have six home games and I'm really happy about that because this is the first time since I've been here that we've had six home games and that's very exciting for our players, for our fans, and for our university," Guy said. "We have to get into it early and win games early. I've said all along that if we had won the first two games last year instead of just the final two games of the year it would have been a much different season."
For the third season in a row and sixth time in the program's history, USU will play a 12-game season. However, the Aggies have a rarity with two open weeks, Sept. 27 in the middle of the three-game homestand and on Nov. 22 after back-to-back road games and before the home finale on Nov. 29.
"This is the first time since I've been here that we've had two open dates. It is unusual for us but that's a rotating problem with a nine-team conference and this is the first year that it fell on us," Guy said. "I've never had one quite that late in the season but it will be good after coming off the road for two weeks in a row to have an open week leading into our last home game."
USU's six road games take them to UNLV (Aug. 30), Oregon (Sept. 6), San Jose State (Oct. 11), Nevada (Oct. 18), Boise State (Nov. 8) and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 15).
"One of the tougher stretches will be when we have Hawai'i at home, then we go on the road to Boise State and then to Louisiana Tech," Guy said. "We'll bus to Boise, but then have our longest trip of the season to Louisiana Tech. We then have an open date before we finish up with New Mexico State on Thanksgiving weekend."
Utah State won its last two games on the road last season, USU's first consecutive road wins since 1999.
"Fortunately, we've got a two-game winning streak on the road, heading into our season-opener at UNLV, so we've got confidence that we can win on the road," Guy said. "We have the first two games of the year on the road, which is going to be tough, but then it will be nice to be home for three games in a row. Having six home games is definitely an advantage."
Two of those home games are against in-state rivals Utah on Sept. 13 and BYU on Oct. 3. This is the first time since 2002 and the fourth time in the history of both rivalries that the Aggies have hosted the Utes and Cougars in the same season.
"I think those two games mean a lot, but it doesn't mean anything if we can't win some games," Guy said of hosting the two in-state foes. "People call those rivalry games but it makes it a lot better of a rivalry when both teams win, we haven't won enough of those. We'll take those games one at a time, it will be exciting for our players and we expect to have overflow crowds at both of them. We'll just have to take them one at a time, both of those teams are bowl teams that have been consistent, proven winners and we have to play up to that level if we're going to compete with them."
The other four home games include Western Athletic Conference match-ups with Idaho (Sept. 20), Fresno State (Oct. 25), Hawai'i (Nov. 1) and New Mexico State (Nov. 29).
Utah State won its last two games of the season, finishing with a 2-10 overall and 2-6 WAC ledger, matching the 2005 squad for best WAC record. The Aggies finished seventh in the league standings. Both of USU's wins last season were on the road, the most road wins since 2000 when the Aggies were 2-4 in away games. For the first time since 2003, Utah State won back-to-back conference games and the Aggies won consecutive games on the road for the first time since 1999.
The Aggies will return 18 starters (six offense, 10 defense, two special teams), after losing eight starters (five offense, one defense, two special teams) among 15 seniors from the 2007 squad.
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