Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara (12) warms up before practice during Kids' Day at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa

No. 25 Iowa puts trying offseason to bed, welcomes Utah State

Cade McNamara is cleared and consider No. 25 Iowa beyond ready for the light to go green on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes host Utah State at Kinnick Stadium and take a step out of the significant shadows cast by a trying offseason investigation around sports betting that engulfed multiple team sports in Iowa City.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz hasn’t named all five players the NCAA highlighted for alleged wagering-related wrongdoing, but sixth-year defensive tackle Noah Shannon is appealing a season-long suspension, the coach said.

While his health status is not 100 percent clear, Ferentz did use the words “cleared” when discussing McNamara’s chances of playing in the opener on Saturday. The Michigan transfer represents a fresh start for the Hawkeyes, who ranked 122nd in passing offense last season at 156.7 yards per game. Iowa had seven TD passes in 13 games.

“It’s a strain, a muscle issue, a soft-tissue issue. He certainly started working at the end of last week, and he’s been practicing,” Ferentz said of McNamara. “I can’t put a percentage on where he’s at right now. He’s been cleared medically; that’s the good news.

“So the thing we have to judge as we go along is how effective can he be? Can he go out and perform in a way that is representative of the kind of player he is? Looked good in practice today. It’s kind of day-by-day.”

McNamara guided Michigan to the Big Ten title and College Football Playoff in 2021. On the depth chart, he’s listed as the starter for Saturday, but Ferentz said how he responds physically over the next several days will determine a game-day call on his status.

Iowa has six starters back on defense, the unit that helped carry the Hawkeyes to an 8-5 record despite a handful of putrid offensive showings.

That includes Big Ten preseason player of the year Cooper DeJean, who is ranked as a top-50 2024 draft prospect by Field Level Media. The preseason All-American said his focus is on getting his team to Indianapolis in December for the conference championship game, not on individual notice.

“We brought some guys in that will help us out with that. Obviously, you talk about Cade (McNamara). Nick Jackson on the defensive side,” DeJean said. “I think those are two great guys along with the other guys that we brought in and the guys that we still have.”

Utah State has played in 10 bowl games in the past 12 years, including last season, despite a 6-7 final record. In 2021, head coach Blake Anderson guided the Aggies to a 26-23 upset at Washington State in the season opener. But Utah State is 6-65 all-time against teams ranked in the Top 25 and has the sixth-most new players on the roster from 2022 to 2023 with 59 (Colorado (88), Arizona State (79), Oklahoma State (63), Nebraska (62) and New Mexico State (62) have more; Colorado State also has 59).

Senior quarterback Cooper Legas is one of the four returnees for Utah State on offense, along with a trio of all-Mountain West performers in sophomore safety Ike Larsen, senior linebacker MJ Tafisi Jr. and senior wide receiver Terrell Vaughn. Vaughn had 56 receptions and five touchdowns last season.

Anderson said he stressed in the offseason the importance of success on first down to counteract the NCAA rule change to no longer stop the clock to move the chains.

“We overly emphasized to our offensive players, man, that every yard counts, moving the chains counts,” he said. “You’re just not going to get as many opportunities as you’re used to.”

Iowa is 20-2 in season openers since 2001. Ferentz needs two wins to reach 200 in his career.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan (5) passes the ball against the Southern Methodist Mustangs during the second half at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis, Utah St. chase winning season in First Responder Bowl

Utah State and Memphis finished the regular season on opposite trajectories, but the two .500 teams will collide at the First Responder Bowl on Tuesday in Dallas.

Utah State (6-6) won five of its last seven regular-season games to qualify for a bowl game for the second straight season and 10th time in the past 12 years.

Memphis (6-6) lost five of its last seven games but secured a bowl berth for the ninth consecutive season, the longest active streak of any non-Power 5 team in the country.

“Love the matchup against Memphis,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “Really good football team.”

The Aggies haven’t played Memphis since 1977, but Anderson faced the Tigers in the 2020 season opener when he was coaching Arkansas State.

The 37-24 win by Memphis was also the first victory at the school for coach Ryan Silverfield.

“(I’m) familiar with those guys,” Anderson said. “I have watched them play several times this year and know what kind of challenge that’ll be.”

The Aggies defeated three teams that earned bowl invitations this season: UConn, Air Force and San Jose State.

Utah State is led by junior quarterback Cooper Legas, who has completed 61.2 percent of his passes this season for 1,465 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

His favorite receiver has been Brian Cobbs, who has 70 receptions for 844 yards and four touchdowns this season.

Calvin Tyler Jr. rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown in Utah State’s 42-23 loss to Boise State in the regular-season finale on Nov. 25, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark on the season for the first time in his five-year collegiate career.

“Got great respect for (Anderson) and what he’s done at Utah State,” Silverfield said. “We know that they are going to present a challenge. We know that they are only a year removed from an 11-win season. They’ve got an over 1,000-yard rusher and nine all-conference-type players.”

Seth Henigan started every game this season at quarterback for Memphis. He has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,275 yards and 19 touchdowns with eight interceptions.

The Tigers lost running back Brandon Thomas to a season-ending injury on Nov. 10 against Tulsa, leaving Jevyon Ducker and Asa Martin to carry the load against Utah State.

“They run the ball and run it extremely well,” Anderson said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA;  Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) drops back to pass in the second quarter against the Utah State Aggies at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 BYU pulls away from Utah State

Jaren Hall threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night as 19th-ranked BYU pulled away in the second half for a 38-26 win over Utah State in Provo, Utah.

Hall completed 17 of 27 passes for the Cougars (4-1), who won their second straight game after a 41-20 loss at Oregon on Sept. 17. His 14-yard scoring strike to Ethan Erickson less than three minutes into the third quarter gave BYU a 24-17 advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Aggies (1-4) countered with Connor Coles’ 33-yard field goal at the 10:03 mark to pull within 24-20, but they wouldn’t get any closer. The Cougars made it 31-20 when Hall hit Kody Epps for an 8-yard touchdown with 6:12 left in the third.

BYU put the game away with Christopher Brooks’ 18-yard scoring jaunt up the middle with 8:18 remaining. That occurred six plays after Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Aggies’ 44-yard line.

Legas completed 19 of 31 passes for 188 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Aggies, who used their ground game to control the ball during the first half. Calvin Tyler led Utah State’s attack with a game-high 104 yards on 18 attempts.

The Aggies marched 75 yards on a crisp game-opening drive, Legas covering the last seven with a scoring run at the 10:39 mark of the first quarter. The Cougars counted with a pair of scores in 81 seconds. Hall hit Keanu Hill with a 31-yard touchdown pass, followed by Max Tooley’s 34-yard interception return.

Utah State responded with a pair of second-quarter scores to grab a 17-14 edge. Coles hit a 50-yard field goal at the 9:34 mark, followed by Legas’ 14-yard scoring strike to Brian Cobbs with 5:04 left.

BYU responded with a 45-yard field goal by Jake Oldroyd with 2:32 remaining — allowing the Cougars to tie the game at halftime despite rushing for minus-21 yards in the half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) throws the ball against the Wyoming Cowboys in the second quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Hall leads No. 19 BYU against in-state rival Utah State

Jaren Hall is a rising pro prospect and the BYU quarterback will look to have another big game when he leads the No. 19 Cougars into Thursday night’s contest against visiting Utah State at Provo, Utah.

Hall has topped 300 yards in back-to-back games and has nine touchdown passes against one interception this season for the Cougars (3-1). He matched his career high of four touchdown passes and passed for a season-high 337 yards during Saturday’s 38-24 home win over Wyoming.

He enters the game against Utah State (1-3) with a streak of 115 consecutive passes without being intercepted. It is his third career streak of 100 or more throws without being picked off. He also has streaks of 163 and 119 in his career.

“Jaren’s smart, and he has a great football IQ,” Cougars coach Kalani Sitake said. “… Jaren always wants to get better, and we are lucky to have him as the leader on our team. I just like that he takes care of the football.”

Hall has passed for 1,164 yards this season and has completed 71.5 percent of his passes despite receiver Gunner Romney missing the first four games due to an undisclosed injury.

Hall is on pace to easily outdo last year’s success, when he completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 2,583 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Cougars racked up 525 yards of total offense against Wyoming to mark the second time they topped 500 this season.

“I’m glad we were able to get the win, and these guys were resilient and played hard,” Sitake said. “We have a quick turnaround for the Utah State game so we need to get ready for that.”

Utah State has lost its last three games by an average of 31 points. The Aggies were shellacked by Alabama, whipped by FCS program Weber State and lost its Mountain West conference opener to visiting UNLV on Saturday.

Making the struggles more maddening is that Utah State matched the program record for victories last season, going 11-3.

“No one is more frustrated than we are,” Aggies coach Blake Anderson said. “We got used to a lot of success last year and right now, we haven’t seen it.”

Utah State committed six turnovers in the 34-24 loss to UNLV, and five were interceptions from quarterback Logan Bonner, a seventh-year senior who began his career at Arkansas State and followed Anderson to Logan after the 2020 campaign.

A year ago, Bonner set program records of 3,628 yards and 36 touchdowns while being picked off 12 times. This season, he has thrown for 753 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Aggies are averaging just 15.5 points per game while allowing an average of 36.

Anderson admitted there isn’t much time to resolve all his club’s issues prior to facing the Cougars.

“Short week against BYU. It’s going to be a huge challenge,” Anderson said. “We have to build on the few things that we did well, try to get better this week and find a way to put it all together in one game. See if we can get that done.”

BYU recorded a 34-20 victory at Utah State last season for its fourth win in the past six meetings.

The series will go on hiatus after the contest because the Cougars canceled the next four season’s worth of games due to its upcoming entrance to the Big 12. BYU will lose scheduling flexibility by leaving the ranks of independent programs.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) outruns Utah State defensive lineman Daniel Grzesiak (9) and Utah State defensive lineman Byron Vaughns (11) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Young, Alabama begin season by crushing Utah State

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young took over where he left off last season, throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for another in less than three quarters to lead top-ranked Alabama to a 55-0 dismantling of Utah State in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday.

Young, who went 18-for-28 passing for 195 yards, threw two touchdowns to Jermaine Burton, who finished with five receptions for 35 yards in his first game with the Crimson Tide (1-0).

Burton transferred from Georgia, where he was a key receiver during the Bulldogs’ run to the national title in January.

Young, who also rushed for a career- and team-high 100 yards and a touchdown on five carries, threw two touchdown passes to Traeshon Holden (five catches, team-high 70 yards) and another to Jase McClellelan, who also caught a scoring pass from back-up quarterback Jalen Milroe.

Alabama outgained the Aggies (1-1) 559-136 and held Utah State to just seven first downs, 23 fewer than the Crimson Tide.

Alabama jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first 12 minutes.

After Will Reichard opened the scoring with a 45-yard field goal 5:04 into the game, Young threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Burton and a 9-yarder to Holden on the Crimson Tide’s next two possessions.

Young threw his third touchdown pass of the night early in the second quarter, when his 2-yard strike to Burton capped an 11-play, 82-yard drive for a 24-0 lead.

Alabama found the end zone again a little more than two minutes later when Holden caught a 14-yard touchdown pass for a 31-0 lead with 10:14 left in the half.

Reichard extended the advantage to 34-0 with a 33-yard field goal with about three minutes left in the second quarter.

Young tossed his fifth touchdown pass of the half when he hit McClellan with an 8-yard strike for a 41-0 lead with 15 seconds left before halftime.

Young pushed the lead to 48-0 when he scored on a 4-yard run with 13:38 left in the third quarter.

Milroe replaced Young on the next possession and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to McClellan for a 55-0 lead with 10:18 left in the third.

Jahmyr Gibbs, who transferred from Georgia Tech during the offseason, rushed for 93 yards on nine carries, while Milroe went 8-for-10 passing for 76 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

–Field Level Media

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban has words for Mercer linebacker Jordan Williams (40) as he leaves the field Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Alabama Vs Mercer

No. 1 Alabama wants to show Utah State its trophy mentality

Alabama was runner-up to national title winner Georgia last season, but there’s a three-peat on the line for the Crimson Tide in 2022.

Linebacker Will Anderson is a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which resided in Tuscaloosa at the end of each of the past two seasons thanks to wide receiver DeVonta Smith (2020) and quarterback Bryce Young (2021).

Anderson and Young will make their opening statements of the 2022 season when No. 1 Alabama hosts Utah State (1-0) in the season opener for the Crimson Tide on Saturday night.

Utah State beat UConn 31-20 last week to open the season.

“This is really kind of about us and how we prepare to play and what we need to do against a really good opponent,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “So that’s going to be the emphasis all week long for us.”

Saban is stressing competition and not promising anything with a depth chart listing starters or equating to playing time. He reminded the Crimson Tide any trophies they’ve earned in the past as an individual or team have no trade-in value toward the 2022 goals of winning the SEC and a national title.

“No one’s entitled to anything on our team,” Saban said. “So the message to every player every day, regardless of what the competitive circumstances of his position is, you’re trying to create value for yourself, you’re trying to be the best player that you can be.

“There shouldn’t be any external factors that determine how you go about that. And if you’re really a true competitor, you don’t need somebody to be competing for your job because you’re competing with yourselves to be the best version of yourself that you can be relative to whatever you choose to do in your life.”

Utah State is getting a massive check for the trip to Alabama on Saturday — $1.9 million — and coach Blake Anderson didn’t try to spin the scenario they will encounter.

“I spent most of my career (playing) in these kinds of games,” Anderson said Monday. “It’s a necessary evil. We’ve got an athletic department that we’ve got to fund, and this is something that we have got to do.”

That doesn’t mean the Aggies won’t show up. Utah State has a seven-game road winning streak. Anderson has won three consecutive games against Power 5 opponents, including Utah State’s 26-23 win at Washington State last season and a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

And Utah State has been on the SEC stage in the state before. On Sept. 3, 2011, the Aggies visited No. 19 Auburn, the defending national champions, and led 38-28 with 3:38 remaining before losing 42-38.

But alas, the saying about the value of yesteryear’s trophies might apply.

Last week, Utah State fell behind by 14 points in the opener but rallied to beat UConn. The Aggies gave up 14 points and 180 total yards in the first quarter before shutting UConn down.

Senior running back Calvin Tyler had 161 yards on 33 carries against the Huskies, and quarterback Logan Bonner completed 20 of 29 passes for 281 yards and three scores. Utah State totaled 542 yards in the win.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2021; Logan, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Baylor Romney (16) throws the ball while Utah State Aggies safety Monte' McGary (26) and Utah State Aggies defensive tackle Marcus Moore (95) pursue during the second quarter at Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

BYU voids four games against in-state rival Utah State

BYU is suspending its series against in-state program Utah State after this season’s matchup due to its impending entrance into the Big 12.

The Cougars voided road games in 2023 and 2025 at Logan, Utah, and home games in 2024 and 2026 against the Aggies, a program they have played 90 times, beginning in 1922. The teams play this season on Sept. 29 in Provo.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said the move was necessary due to entering the Big 12 for the 2023 season. The Cougars had been an independent since 2011.

“As we prepare to enter Big 12 membership, we’ve had to make many adjustments to nonconference games on our future schedules,” Holmoe said in a statement. “We are grateful to Utah State for being a willing partner in scheduling games throughout the years, especially the last decade as we’ve navigated independence.

“While we don’t have the Aggies scheduled beyond 2022 at this point, we will continue to work together to play this in-state game again in the future.”

Utah State athletic director John Hartwell said his school will attempt to continue playing the Cougars in the future.

“Utah State and BYU have a long-standing history of annual competition on the football field and our goal is to continue the rivalry,” Hartwell said in a statement. “While we are disappointed to see the series go away for now, we are committed to working with BYU to find scheduling opportunities in the future.”

BYU holds a 50-37-3 series lead and has won four of the past six meetings. The Cougars beat the Aggies 34-20 in Logan last season.

Both programs finished in the final AP Top 25 poll last season. BYU (10-3) was No. 19 while Utah State (11-3) was No. 24 after matching the school record for victories.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Inglewood, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies head coach Blake Anderson reacts in the second half of the 2021 LA Bowl against the Oregon State Beavers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah St. announces death of coach Blake Anderson’s son

Utah State on Tuesday announced the tragic death of one of head football coach Blake Anderson’s sons.

Utah State athletics director John Hartwell expressed “thoughts and prayers” for Anderson and his family on social media.

Anderson’s bio lists two grown sons, Coleton and Cason, but it’s not clear which one died. His bio also lists a daughter, Callie.

The circumstances of the death were also not released.

Anderson lost his first wife, Wendy, in 2019 after her three-year battle with cancer. The pair was married for 27 years. Anderson remarried in 2021.

Anderson led the Aggies to an 11-3 record and the Mountain West Conference championship in 2021, his first season in Logan, Utah. The Aggies also won their bowl game.

Anderson went 51-37 in seven seasons at Arkansas State (2014-20).

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Carson, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies players pour gatorade on Utah State Aggies head coach Blake Anderson in celebration of the victory against San Diego State Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference championship game at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State extends contract of coach Blake Anderson

Utah State is extending the contract of head football coach Blake Anderson after just one year on the job.

The school announced Friday that Anderson has verbally agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him at Utah State through the 2027 season. No financial terms were disclosed.

The Aggies were 11-3 on the season and defeated San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference championship game, which followed a 6-2 conference record. They defeated Oregon State 24-13 in the inaugural LA Bowl last Saturday.

“In just one year at the helm, Blake Anderson has transformed a one-win team into a Mountain West Championship team,” athletic director John Hartwell said in a news release. “The positive and team-centered culture he and his staff have created and fostered permeates throughout Aggie Nation. As remarkable as the on-the field success has been, the academic achievements and personal development of our football student-athletes under his leadership are even more impressive. Blake’s character, integrity and passion for the academic, personal, and athletic growth of our student-athletes have fueled the success of this team. Under coach Anderson’s leadership, the future of Aggie football is very bright.”

The win over No. 19 San Diego State gave the Aggies their first-ever MWC title and their first victory against a ranked opponent in six seasons. Utah State started the year with a 26-23 road win at Washington State for its first Power Five road win since 1971.

Utah State was 1-5 in the coronavirus-interrupted 2020 season. The school fired head coach Gary Andersen during the season and hired his successor on Dec. 12, 2020.

Blake Anderson, 52, was the head coach at Arkansas State from 2014-20 after a long career as an assistant coach that included stints as offensive coordinator at North Carolina, Southern Miss and Louisiana.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Carson, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies running back Calvin Tyler Jr. (4) runs the ball against San Diego State Aztecs safety C.J. Baskerville (34) during the first half of the Mountain West Conference championship game at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State annihilates No. 19 San Diego State to win Mountain West

Unranked Utah State kept San Diego State from its first 12-win season in dominating fashion, rolling to a 46-13 upset of the 19th-ranked Aztecs on Saturday afternoon in the Mountain West Conference championship game at the Aztecs’ temporary home in Carson, Calif.

Logan Bonner completed 29 of 42 passes for 318 yards, throwing four touchdown passes as Utah State took the lead after a scoreless first quarter and never trailed.

The Aggies (10-3) won their first Mountain West title in school history in their second appearance in the game. Brandon Bowling caught two touchdowns as part of his eight-catch, 154-yard afternoon, and Derek Wright and Justin McGriff each had a receiving touchdown for Utah State.

Utah State sacked San Diego State quarterback Jordan Brookshire four times, finishing with five sacks for the game. The Aggies blocked two punts, one for a safety in the third quarter that gave them a 23-3 lead.

Aztecs star kicker/punter Matt Araiza hadn’t had a punt blocked all season. Wide receiver Jesse Matthews caught San Diego State’s only touchdown pass and had eight catches for 82 yards.

On a first quarter possession, the Aggies stuffed the Aztecs (11-2) on fourth-and-1 from the Utah State 12-yard line.

Araiza’s second field goal of the game made the score 23-6, but Bonner found Bowling for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:54 to go in the third quarter, and the 23-point deficit was too much for San Diego State to overcome.

Bonner’s touchdown pass to Wright saw the wide receiver manage to keep one foot in bounds along the sideline in the end zone, and his first TD pass to Bowling was a backbreaker for the Aztecs, who trailed only 14-3 at halftime.

Bowling was wide open over the middle of the field for a 58-yard touchdown to cap off the Aggies’ first drive of the second half.

Calvin Tyler Jr. added a touchdown run for Utah State, and after he fumbled inside the 5-yard line late in the game, teammate Jordan Nathan recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown with 3:58 to play.

–Field Level Media