LOGAN — For the second time this season and just the second time in more than 30 years, Utah State is receiving votes in a top-25 poll.
The Aggies received four votes in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll, which ties them for 39th in the nation with Western Kentucky. The Aggies received votes in the AP poll after defeating Utah in week two, but dropped out of the poll following a road loss to Wisconsin. Prior to this season, USU had not received votes in any top-25 polls since 1978.
A lot of coaches downplay the importance of an arbitrary ranking, but for USU coach Gary Andersen every milestone the Aggies reach is a positive one. The Aggies are happy to use the ranking as a team morale boost, and the coaches highlight it during recruiting trips to prove the team is on the rise and getting national recognition.
"When you're continually trying to build a program and have some consistency, all the good news helps," Andersen said. "It's definitely a step in the right direction towards being consistent and building a winning program. We look at all those things in a very positive way. I think things like that do matter and it's an important part of the process."
Utah State will have the opportunity to pick up more votes if it can win its next two games. Following this week's home clash with Texas State, the Aggies will travel to Louisiana Tech to face the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech is currently ranked 22nd in the AP Top-25 and 23rd in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER AWARD: At the rate he's going, sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton is going to need more wall space to hang all of his awards.
After dismantling UTSA in his last outing, Keeton was named WAC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. The Houston native put on quite a show in his home state, throwing for 340 yards and three touchdowns while connecting with 12 different receivers.
"Chuckie's been spreading it around to a lot of different receivers and that makes us tougher to defend," Andersen said. "We were well-rounded in the throw game, and that's a good thing for us."
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION: After scoring only three points at BYU, the Aggies have become an offensive juggernaut in three straight blowouts, averaging 46 points a contest. It's the first time USU has scored at least 40 points in three consecutive games since a stretch in 1990 when the Aggies hung a combined 151 points on New Mexico State, Cal State Fullerton and Pacific.
Combine the way the offense is clicking with the defenses left on the schedule, and a case could be made for the streak extending through the final three games. The Aggies' next opponent, Texas State, is the most formidable squad left when looking at points allowed but still sits in the bottom third in the country in scoring defense, giving up 31 points a game. The schedule finishes with Louisiana Tech, which allows 35 a contest, and Idaho, which is fifth from the bottom in FBS, conceding 42 points per game.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company