Oct. 5, 2010
LOGAN, Utah - For the first time since 1993, Utah State has possession of the Old Wagon Wheel, as the traveling trophy returned to Logan on Tuesday and was presented to the team after practice.
Since 1948 the winner of the in-state game takes home a wagon wheel that records the winner of the each game. The wagon wheel has been in BYU's possession since 1994, as Friday's 31-16 Aggie victory over the Cougars was USU's first win in the series since 1993, snapping a 10-game losing skid to BYU. The Cougars now lead the all-time series, 43-34-4. The wheel has plaques with the score from each USU-BYU game since 1948 around the rim.
"It's great to get the Old Wagon Wheel back home, that's for sure," USU head coach Gary Andersen said. "The kids were very, very excited about it. That's an important piece of our program. Seventeen years is a long time. I think about the number of players that have gone through this program, but have not had the opportunity to have that in their possession, and that makes this a special time for these kids, especially the seniors. We'll take that senior photo with it and put that on our wall. We'll have to find a new home for the wheel in our facility and give it a nice, new home. It hasn't had a new home for awhile, so we'll find one for it."
Andersen said that the win is about more than just football and more about this football team.
"This win is not just for the 2010 Aggie football team. In my opinion, this victory is for the entire community, for the team, for the kids and for all the Aggies, young and old, we all can come together no matter what year we were here or what sport we played, and continue to support this place, because it is a truly special place and can continue to grow," Andersen said.
Andersen's enthusiasm extended to the players.
"To me personally, this is extremely exciting," said junior defensive end Levi Koskan, who is a local talent from Smithfield. "It is a tangible item that you can put your hands on and see what all the hard work was for. A win is great and you can boast about that, but a win with a trophy, that tangible thing, is even better. You can look at it every day and remember those feelings from the game and what you did during the week to prepare for the game, and what you can continue to do to get more wins. It's a shrine to remind you to keep working hard to get more wins."
Friday's win was not just enjoyed by the USU coaches and players, but by the administration as well.
"This is what college athletics is all about with the rivalries, the history and the tradition," USU Athletics Director Scott Barnes said. "I think the most exciting part of this was watching the kids' faces when equipment manager Mike Bair unloaded it from the equipment truck. I don't think any of them had ever seen it before, so for them to see what they worked hard for rewarded with that trophy puts the icing on the cake on a great win like this."
Barnes elaborated on the impact of the win on the USU program.
"It really drives it home as a signature win and one that hopefully can be a program-changer for us. It's always special beating a rival, but having been 17 years since we've done it makes it that much more special," Barnes said.
With its non-conference portion of the schedule completed with the BYU game, Utah State returns to Western Athletic Conference action by heading to Ruston, La., to tangle with the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Oct. 9. The USU-LTU game will be regionally-televised on ESPN-Regional, shown on Altitude (Comcast Ch. 61 in Cache Valley). Kickoff from Ruston for Utah State's first afternoon game this season is slated for 2 p.m. (MT).
Utah State has a bye week next week before hosting Hawai'i on Saturday, Oct. 23 for Homecoming. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m., as part of a full weekend, which includes a special ceremony and unveiling of the Merlin Olsen statue at Romney Stadium.
To purchase tickets, or for more Aggie football ticket information, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or on-line 24 hours a day at www.utahstateaggies.com under the "tickets" drop down menu.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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