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

Nov 26, 2021; Carson, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs quarterback Jordon Brookshire (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Boise State Broncos in the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. San Diego State defeated Boise State 27-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

QB mystery lingers as No. 19 San Diego State vies for MWC title

No. 19 San Diego State can win a 12th game in a season for the first time in school history when it plays Utah State on Saturday in the Mountain West conference championship game at Carson, Calif.

The Aztecs (11-1) have notched 11 wins for the fourth time since moving up to Division I status in 1969. They are playing in the conference title game for the first time since 2016.

Utah State (9-3) has exceeded expectations under first-year coach Blake Anderson. The Aggies have gone 6-0 on the road while reaching the league title contest for the first time since 2013.

Utah State is just 2-13 all-time against San Diego State, however Anderson is just fine with the view of the Aztecs being favorites.

“We’ve been the underdogs in most of the games we’ve played this year and we’ve overcome that and found a way to win nine games and get to the title game,” Anderson said. “It’s been a fun ride.”

San Diego State’s lone loss this season came against Fresno State. The Aztecs responded with four straight wins and dominated Boise State in the second half of a 27-16 win over the Broncos on Nov. 26.

Now the focus is on earning the school’s third win in the Mountain West title contest.

“Really excited for this next step because this is what you play for,” said San Diego State’s Brady Hoke, who was named Mountain West Coach of the Year on Tuesday. “I think there’s a group of guys who want to have a legacy and part of that legacy is winning championships.”

Still to be determined is who starts at quarterback for the Aztecs.

Jordon Brookshire replaced banged-up and ineffective Lucas Johnson late in the second quarter versus Boise State and guided San Diego State to 24 consecutive points to overcome a 13-point deficit. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 192 yards and rushed for 46 yards on nine attempts.

Brookshire lost the starting gig to Johnson earlier this season.

“Adversity is part of the job, playing sports, any position,” Brookshire said. “It is adversity, hardships, and getting through it, and that is what makes players so good. If everything went well the entire time, who knows how good a player could be, but it is that adversity and fighting through things that makes people better.”

Johnson didn’t practice Monday, according to Hoke.

The Aztecs typically win games with defense and special teams and it was no surprise to see linebacker Cameron Thomas named the Mountain West’s top defender and punter/kicker Matt Araiza named the league’s best special teams’ player.

Thomas has recorded 20 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks, for a defense that held seven opponents to 16 or fewer points. Araiza is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and leads the nation with a 51.5 average and is tied for first with 36 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. He is 15 of 24 on field goals.

Utah State figures to push the pace behind the combo of quarterback Logan Bonner and first-team All-Mountain West wideout Deven Thompkins.

Bonner, who followed Anderson from Arkansas State, has thrown for 3,236 yards and his 32 touchdown passes match the school record set by Jordan Love in 2018.

The 5-foot-8 Thompkins has 87 receptions for a school-record 1,543 yards. He leads the nation in receiving yardage.

“Obviously, he’s an elite player with elite ball skills,” Bonner said of Thompkins to the Salt Lake Tribune. “So I’ll take him any time no matter how big the corner is.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Max Borghi (21) rushes against Washington Huskies defensive back Elijah Molden (3) during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State takes a shot at Utah State in opener

Football coaches usually tire of questions focused on quarterback competitions.

But for Washington State coach Nick Rolovich, it’s likely a welcome respite.

Rolovich hasn’t yet named the Cougars’ starter for Saturday night’s season opener against Utah State in Pullman, Wash. — incumbent Jayden de Laura and Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano are the candidates — but that question has at least taken some of the focus away from Rolovich’s decision to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Rolovich has said he plans to follow Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate that all state employees receive their shots.

As for who will start at QB?

“We want to make sure we make the right decision, and we want to make sure that guys continue to get reps and improve if they are not the starter because I believe they will be counted on,” Rolovich said.

The Cougars went 1-3 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Running back Max Borghi, a Doak Walker Award preseason nominee, played in just one game last year because of injuries, rushing for 96 yards against Utah.

“There were times when I thought we had a lot of fight in us, and I thought there were times when we folded,” Rolovich said of his first season with the Cougars. “… I know the mindset is much better than it was going into last fall, and you would think that would translate into wins. But this is a funny game with a funny shaped ball, and there will be highs and lows.”

Utah State mostly experienced the latter last season, firing coach Gary Andersen after an 0-3 start and finishing 1-5.

The Aggies hired Blake Anderson away from Arkansas State to revive their program.

Like Rolovich, Anderson hasn’t named a starting QB. The competition is between a pair of juniors, returnee Andrew Peasley and transfer Logan Bonner, who followed Anderson from Arkansas State.

Thus far, Anderson said his focus has been inward.

“To be honest with you, you’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I have not spent all that time worried about Washington State,” Anderson said. “I’m worried about us. I want to make sure we have our best team ready to go try to fix our issues. In every first game of the season, every bit of opponent work you put in is guesswork.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 5, 2020; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Arkansas State Red Wolves head coach Blake Anderson during the second half against the Memphis Tigers  at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State names Anderson new coach

Blake Anderson was named the new coach at Utah State on Saturday night after spending the past seven seasons at Arkansas State.

The Aggies have scheduled a press conference for Monday morning.

“On behalf of Aggie nation, I am thrilled to announce Blake Anderson as our new head football coach,” Utah State athletic director John Hartwell said in a statement. “I have watched his Arkansas State teams over the past seven years, first when I was at Troy and then here at USU, and I am excited for our fans to witness first-hand his high-octane offense and championship brand of football.”

Anderson went 51-37 at Arkansas State, leading the Red Wolves to winning seasons in every season except this one (4-7). Anderson took the Red Wolves to six bowl games. Also Saturday night, Arkansas named Butch Jones to replace Anderson in Jonesboro, Ark.

Anderson replaces Gary Andersen, who was fired by Utah State in November after an 0-3 start.

–Field Level Media

Dec 15, 2018; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Utah State Aggies interim coach Frank Maile is doused with water after the game against the North Texas Mean Green of the New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State opt-outs cause cancellation of Colorado State game

Utah State football players have opted not to play Saturday’s season-finale at Colorado State due to alleged comments by university president Noelle Cockett about the religious and cultural background of interim football coach Frank Maile.

Maile, a former Utah State player, is Polynesian and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was in the running to become the permanent coach before Utah State reportedly settled on Blake Anderson of Arkansas State on Thursday.

Anderson was reportedly en route to Logan, Utah on Friday but the school hasn’t yet announced his hiring.

Cockett held a Zoom call with players on the football team’s leadership council Tuesday to discuss Maile’s candidacy to become the full-time coach. According to the players on the council, she made the troubling remarks during the call.

“We are highlighting the ongoing problems of inequality and want to create a better future for the community of Logan and Utah State University,” the players said in a statement to Stadium. “The Utah State football players have decided to opt out of our game against Colorado State due to ongoing inequality and prejudicial issues between the players, coaches, and the USU administration.

“On Tuesday, December 8th, the Utah State University Football Leadership Council held a zoom meeting with Noelle Cockett, President of USU, and John Hartwell, the Athletic Director. The purpose of the meeting was to have a say in the search for our new head coach.

“During the meeting, we voiced our support for Interim Head Coach Frank Maile. In response to our comments, their primary concern was his religious and cultural background. Players, stating their diverse faiths and backgrounds, then jumped to Coach Frank Maile’s defense in treating everyone with love, equality, and fairness.”

Cockett defended herself while expressing disappointment in a statement she issued on Friday night.

“I am devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone’s religious background,” Cockett said. “Throughout my professional career and, especially, as president of USU, I have welcomed the opportunity to meet directly and often with students about their experiences. Regardless of how difficult the conversations might be in the coming days, I remain committed to giving our students a voice.”

After Tuesday’s call, the leadership council informed the rest of the players about Cockett’s comments and sought out their opinions.

That led to a players-only meeting on Friday where the vote was unanimous not to play the road contest at Colorado State.

The leadership council also indicated that Cockett’s comments further an ongoing problem at the Mountain West school.

“It is not the first time issues of repeated discrimination have happened,” the statement said. “In December 2019, our head equipment manager used a racial slur against one of our African-American teammates. After disregarding the incident, pressure resurfaced to investigate in the summer of 2020. After the investigation, the administration concluded he would continue to be employed.

“We want our message to be clear that this has nothing to do with the hiring of Coach Blake Anderson, the recently-named head coach of the program. We are sure he is an excellent coach; we look forward to meeting him and his staff.”

The Aggies are 1-5 this season and fired initial coach Gary Andersen after the team lost the first three games by a 114-29 margin.

Maile took over as interim coach and the squad has since gone 1-2. The win was a 41-27 decision over New Mexico on Nov. 26.

Maile is in his fifth season of his second stint on the Aggies’ coaching staff. He previously had a five-year stint from 2009-13 before taking a position at Vanderbilt for two seasons before returning to the program.

Maile served as interim coach when Utah State routed North Texas 52-13 in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl. He guided the team after Matt Wells left to take the Texas Tech gig.

Maile also played in 42 games (21 starts) for Utah State from 2004-07 and was a team captain as a senior. He had 71 tackles, including 19 for loss, during his career.

Anderson had a 51-37 record in seven seasons at Arkansas State. The Red Wolves made bowl games in his first six seasons before going 4-7 this year.

Arkansas State announced Thursday that Anderson had departed. He reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with Utah State that averages slightly more than $1 million annually.

–Field Level Media