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Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Zayne Anderson (23) makes a touchdown saving tackle on Utah State Aggies tight end Carson Terrell (88) during the Utah State versus BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
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Has Utah State Surpassed BYU As A Football Program?

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Zayne Anderson (23) makes a touchdown saving tackle on Utah State Aggies tight end Carson Terrell (88) during the Utah State versus BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In terms of recent success, there’s no question that Utah State football is doing quite well.

In 2018, the Aggies had a record-breaking year. They tied a school record with 11 wins, were among the top offensive scoring teams in the country and won the New Mexico Bowl in decisive fashion with a 52-13 victory over North Texas.

While Utah State lost its head coach Matt Wells, who was hired away by Texas Tech, the program brought back the coach who ushered in a new era of gridiron glory by re-hiring Gary Andersen. Also armed with returning quarterback Jordan Love, the Aggies are expected to field another strong team in 2019 despite having a ton of new faces in the program.

In the same stretch that the Aggies have enjoyed major success, BYU has struggled. Since hiring Kalani Sitake as the head coach in 2016, BYU has a 20-19 record, which isn’t terrible but not nearly where the expectations in Provo generally are.

There have been some bright spots. Sitake has won both of his bowl game appearances and pulled off a huge upset victory over then No. 6-ranked Wisconsin in 2018, but some still think the program has a long way to go to get back to where the Cougars belong.

There’s no question that Aggie fans are likely much happier than Cougar fans about the state of the team, but does that mean that Utah State is the better program overall?

Steele Puts BYU Ahead

College football expert Phil Steele doesn’t think so.

Relating an interview he had with the college football magazine authority, KSLSports.com’s BYU insider Mitch Harper said that the feeling nationally, at least with Steele, is that BYU is still the superior program to Utah State.

“I don’t think long-term, that we’ve seen Utah State pass up BYU as that team,” said Steele to Harper. “I still think BYU would be ahead of them. But this is a good, and dangerous, Utah State team.”

When the two teams meet on Nov. 2 in Logan, Steele sees it as a toss-up game. While the Aggies are bringing back some terrific players on defense, they’re also a bit depleted on offense.

Utah State Is A Must-Win For BYU

For BYU in the 2019 season, the focus is mostly on beating Utah for the first time since 2009 in the season opener. However, the argument could be made that beating Utah State is also quite important. BYU has lost the last two matchups to Utah State.

“If they want to feel like progress is taking place in the program in 2019 they absolutely have to beat Utah State,” said Harper to KSL Unrivaled host Scott Mitchell.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.

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