October 7, 1978.
It's a matter of pride for BYU fans, especially since Aggie fans insist on calling the football version of games between to the two schools a "rivalry." Basketball is more so, but two teams being in the same state does not necessarily mean their games constitute a rivalry. Granted, the last two games in Provo were pretty close. At some point, though, some sort of varied distribution of wins needs to occur for something to be a rivalry.
The all-time series numbers are fairly equal (though BYU still holds a rather-decided edge at 46-34-3), but I can't bring myself to care about football games that were played before my parents were born.
Even reaching back as far as I am about to creates some cognitive dissonance for me, because past results don't necessarily predict future events. A *ton* can change from season to season for any college football team, a fact I tried to make any time people argued to "watch out for UConn" because BYU doesn't play well east of the Mississippi, especially in season openers, and oh-em-gee don't you remember the Virginia game last year? That focus ignored a myriad of variables that favored BYU (established offense, better skill players, better O-line, UConn with a first-ever head coach) -- and ultimately BYU won easily 35-10.
Still, the history between BYU and Utah State is pretty one-sided starting with the LaVell era, so it's interesting to examine since it is such a strong trend. I suppose starting with the LaVell era could be considered cherry picking, since that's when BYU began to be competent (and later, really good) at playing football. But I've got to draw a line somewhere.
(In fact, if I was cherry picking, I wouldn't draw the line at exactly the dawn of the LaVell era, because he started his BYU tenure 0-3 to the Aggies, which accounts for half of all BYU losses to USU since that time.)
Despite a lot of blowouts, the most well-contested games have been quite fun.
In 1983, Chico Canales and his Aggies had the Cougars on the ropes, leading 21-17 at halftime. A Steve Young TD run late in the fourth quarter gave BYU a 38-34 victory.
That win was the first of 10 straight for BYU in the series. The nine that followed were won by an average of 41-9.
That streak ended with the shootout of 1993, which Utah State won 58-56. John Walsh threw for 619 yards and BYU outgained USU 664-654. Interestingly, USU ran 98 offensive plays to BYU's 70. Utah State was in control for most of the game, but a 93-yard TD from Walsh to Tyler Anderson made it a 44-42 game. The Aggies answered every Cougars score, however. BYU won the wild fourth quarter 28-21, but it wasn't enough to win the game.
LaVell's last game in Logan (1999) was a struggle. Utah State took an early 14-0 lead after an 87-yard TD pass. BYU outscored USU 31-6 from there, then surrendered a 31-20 fourth quarter lead. Owen Pochman booted an overtime field goal to win 34-31.
Two seasons in a row, 2001-02, Utah State had big-to-huge leads and coughed them up to wild BYU rallies that included monster ground games from Luke Staley (2001 - 207 yards, 4 TD) and Curtis Brown (2002 - 217 yards, 3 TD).
BYU fought off two of Utah State's best teams in school history at home in 2011-12 with enormous season-changing events included in each one. The 27-24 win in 2011 was the beginning, for better or worse, of the Riley Nelson era. It included the miracle comeback with a crazy bomb of a pass from which we would later come to expect interceptions, and a crazy tipped-pass touchdown to win.
In 2012, an inexperienced Taysom Hill led an incompetent BYU offense to a touchdown just before halftime in a 6-3 win, then had his knee destroyed because of the absolute dumbest coaches' signal in football history. (I'm okay saying it's the worst if your "kneel it" signal can in any way be interpreted as "run the same play again.")
This game has given us some fun experiences amid a lot of angst, and has given us a lot of BYU wins.
Here's a numerical breakdown of the series. While I'm mostly interested in trends for games in Provo, since that is the venue for this season's game, I was already digging into the numbers so I've included Logan games as well:
SINGLE-GAME STAT LEADERS
BYU: John Walsh (1993) - 619 yards
USU: Anthony Calvillo (1993) - 472 yards
BYU: Curtis Brown (2002) - 217 yards
USU: Emmett White (2001) - 144 yards
BYU: Eric Drage (1992) - 196 yards
USU: Aaron Jones (1999) - 195 yards
BYU: Luke Staley (2001) - 300 yards
USU: Emmett White (2000) - 273
OVERALL SERIES SINCE 1972
RECORD: BYU 29-7
In Provo: BYU 18-3
In Logan: BYU 11-4
Average score in BYU wins: 37-15
Average score in USU wins: 25-10 (again, all 1978 and prior)
Average score in BYU wins: 42-19
Average score in USU wins: 31-24
LAVELL EDWARDS (1972-2000)
In Provo: 13-3
In Logan: 8-3
BYU: 52-0 in 1986
USU: 42-19 in 1972
BYU: 44-0 in 1985
USU: 13-7 in 1973
1974: 9-6 USU win
1983: 38-34 BYU win
1993: 58-56 USU win
GARY CROWTON (2001-2004)
As detailed above...
2001: USU leads 34-21 with an early 3rd quarter TD; BYU eventually wins 54-34
2002: USU leads 34-7 at halftime; BYU wins 35-34
BRONCO MENDENHALL (2005-Present)
In Provo: 4-0
In Logan: 2-1
Bronco's first two games against Utah State were dominant wins. The Cougars scored 72 unanswered points on USU to open Bronco's tenure (2006, 2008) before the Aggies added a couple late TD's in 2008 for a 34-14 loss.
A controlled-yet-uninspired win in 2009 (35-17) was followed by the 2010 disaster in Logan when the CFB world watched ESPN as fans in Logan witnessed a USU Super Bowl victory.
Two consecutive three-point wins in Provo were followed by last season's 31-14 win.
AVERAGE SCORE IN PROVO: BYU 27-11. Utah State has surpassed Bronco's magic 24-point target only once in seven games, the 2010 debacle.