Utah State blasts Idaho State 78-28 in home opener – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN — Utah State flexed its muscles on Saturday, leaving no doubt as to who the better team by crushing Idaho State 78-28 in the Aggies’ hope opener. The beating was thorough enough that backups were already entering the game at the start of the 3rd quarter.

The Game Flow

Utah State rushed out to an early lead, quite literally as Robert Briggs scored on USU’s second play from scrimmage, making a 58-yard house call. But Idaho State responded well with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to even the game at 7-7. And for the rest of the first quarter that’s where the score stood. Utah State punted on its second drive after 10 plays and the Bengals likewise punted after nine plays.

After ISU’s punt on its second drive the Aggies began an explosion of offense and points. They scored on seven straight drives (six touchdowns and one field goal) which included 44 points in the second quarter alone. Idaho State managed only one touchdown in that same span.

At halftime, the Aggies led 51-14.

As the third quarter wore on, backups began trickling in for the Aggies on offense and defense. Cooper Legas was one of the first to be pulled as he didn’t even trot out for the first drive of the third quarter. Levi Williams played at QB the entirety of the third quarter. Third-string quarterback McCae Hillstead entered on the first drive of the fourth quarter and played the rest of the way for the Aggies.

Despite what the score may have suggested, the Aggies weren’t trying to run up the score. Players simply kept making plays. A couple of big ones in the second half were Micah Davis’ 47-yard touchdown pass from Levi Williams — which marked the first TDs as Aggies for both players — and a 75-yard pick-six in the final minutes by Jaiden Francois.

Notes and Quotes

Three-headed dragon at running back roars

Utah State had three running backs top 80 yards this game. Robert Briggs led the bunch with 101 yards, Rahsul Faison had 96 and Davon Booth had 87. Combined, the three backs had 284 yards and four touchdowns, accounting for the majority of the 395 rushing yards the Aggies ended up with on Saturday.

Briggs, the starter and leader of the bunch on Saturday, said “it felt wonderful” to have all three backs have such a good game.

“All the guys were happy on the sideline,” Briggs said. “We just kept each other motivated. We knew we were going to have a great day so we just kept pushing forward.”

“Tonight everything worked on the ground,” Anderson said. “We just had one of those nights. We felt good about the gameplan going in. They did a great job once we got the initial positive play and doing what they do. We’ve been really, really excited about that room.”

Monster second quarter

With apologies to the 1919 Utah State football team which beat Idaho State 136-0, the second quarter of this game was the best scoring quarter on record (key word being on record). The Aggies defied any superlative attempted one might attempt to attach to the 44-point showing they put forward.

The quickest burst came in the middle of the quarter when Utah State scored 20 points in a span of 71 seconds of game time. It began with Cooper Legas threw a four-yard touchdown to Terrell Vaughn that capped off a 75-yard drive. On Idaho State next possession Ike Larsen picked off a pass and returned it 47 yards for a pick-six. Shortly after the Bengals got the ball back again, Michael Anyanwu forced a fumble that Cian Slone recovered. Legas then threw his second TD pass of the day, a 20-yard strike to Jalen Royals (a PAT was missed due to a bad snap/hold after Larsen’s TD so that’s why just 20 points).

Defense forces turnovers

Although the Aggie defense earned praise for its resilience and overall good performance against Iowa, it didn’t force any turnovers despite multiple opportunities. Such wasn’t the case Saturday as Utah State forced three turnovers. Two of those came in that 20-points, 71-seconds run courtesy of Larsen and Anyanwu/Slone. Francois had the final one with his pick-six.

It was a marked improvement, though safety Anthony Switzer, who earlier this week took the lack of turnovers against Iowa on himself, said he felt there were some things left on the table (the Aggies did force one other fumble but it was recovered by ISU).

“We for sure did a lot better. I still think we left a little bit on the table in terms of punch attempts,” Switzer said. “On the wall right there it says ‘one degree better daily’ so we got one degree better and that’s all that matters.”

Regardless of what might have been, the fact USU did get its first turnovers of the year can be a springboard for the defense.

Top-flight scoring numbers

The 78 points is a refreshing number to look at after the Aggies struggled to put up points last season. In fact, the 44 points in the second quarter topped the best single-game mark USU had all of last year (best was 41 against Hawaii).

Aside from the refreshing boost in scoring, it also sent this year’s team into the upper part of the scoring record books. While not close to the 136 points from 1919, this was the highest scoring game of the modern era (since around 1959). The next-closest was a 76-point outing against New Mexico State in 1964.

Several mistakes from Iowa game corrected

Though some praise was earned for their effort in the loss to Iowa, there were plenty of mistakes that had to be corrected to ensure wins were in the future and not just moral victories and losses. Anderson pointed out several things the team improved on, the offense having plenty such turnarounds from last week.

“Offensively we didn’t have a bunch of false starts. I thought Coop was a little more calm and worked through his progressions and made better decisions. I look at last Saturday and missed opportunities, guys open that we missed. Kind of got jittery in the pocket a few times.”

Penalties were something the Aggies had too much of last week, with 10 penalties being called on them. This Saturday USU had only four penalties, a far more acceptable number.

“I was pleased. It was a challenge this week. (I was) embarrassed, to be honest with you, last week with the penalties. We addressed it harshly this week,” Anderson said. “Guys responded. They understand how important it is to me that we play disciplined ball.”

Anthony Switzer energy and impact

On the second play for the USU defense, Switzer blew up an Idaho State run play for no gain with a solo tackle. He then pulled out a Spider-Man themed celebration to honor his first notable play on Merlin Olsen Field. Switzer said he practiced the routine in his bedroom the night before the game.

“It was the first game in the Mav and it was so special to me,” Switzer said. “That first tackle, I just had so much adrenaline and I just had to let it fly out there.”

The energy Switzer brings is something the defense has certainly benefitted from. Though it’s not only energy, but leadership he brings to the team.

“Switz is a calming voice and a physical force as well,” Anderson said. “It’s been extremely helpful to have that kind of leadership with all the transitions we’ve had on defense.”

Switzer’s impact on the field for Aggie defense has been very apparent these first two games. He was one of USU’s leaders with eight tackles against Iowa and then against the Bengals set a career-high with 10 tackles. He’s one of the hardest-hitting players on the team and one of its most reliable tacklers.

Improvements still to be made for the team

Despite a 50-point victory, the Aggies won’t be celebrating long as they have a short week ahead and a long season on the horizon. The mantra of getting “one degree better” noted by Switzer is something the Aggies take seriously. Anderson said the plan will be to find what mistakes were there and make sure not to overlook them.

“It’s really easy to sugar-coat the mistakes on a game like this,” Anderson said. “When you lose you dissect them and over-dissect them and are critical and then you win and you make excuses. We’ve got to do just the opposite. We need to coach even harder than we did out of last week’s (game). Make sure that we do take another step because it’ll take every bit of that to beat Air Force.”

Stat Leaders

Utah State players are in bold, Idaho State players in italics


  • Jordan Cooke – 20/30, 185 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Cooper Legas – 14/16, 125 yards, 2 TD
  • Hunter Hays – 11/17, 114 yards, 2 TD
  • Levi Williams – 5/7, 68 yards, 2 TD


  • Robert Briggs – 9 att, 101 yards, 1 TD

  • Rahsul Faison – 5 att, 95 yards, 1 TD
  • Davon Booth – 6 att, 83 yards, 2 TD
  • Keoua Kauhi – 6 att, 27 yards
  • Raiden Hunter – 10 att, 19 yards, 1 TD


  • Christian Fredrickson – 8 rec, 116 yards, 2 TD
  • Terrell Vaughn – 11 rec, 73 yards, 2 TD
  • Jalen Royals – 3 rec, 49 yards, 1 TD
  • Chedon James – 9 rec, 48 yards
  • Micah Davis – 1 rec, 47 yards, 1 TD

Defense/Special Teams

  • Anthony Switzer – 10 tackles (5 solo)
  • Kris Sanchez – 9 tackles (2 solo)
  • Simeon Harris – 8 tackles (3 solo), 1 pass breakup
  • Jaiden Francois – 7 tackles (1 solo), 1.5 TFLs, 1 QB hurry, 1 INT, 1 Defensive TD
  • Michael Anyanwu – 6 tackles (4 solo), 1 forced fumble
  • Paul Fitzgerald – 6 tackles (4 solo), 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sacks
  • Ike Larsen – 5 tackles (1 solo), 0.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 Defensive TD

By the Stats

  • Cooper Legas’ completion percentage of 87.5 percent is the highest of his career
  • USU’s 380 rushing yards are the most for the team since 2018 in a win over Hawaii
  • *Utah State’s 78 points are the fourth-most in school history and the most since USU defeated Idaho State 136-0 in 1919. 
  • *Utah State’s 50-point margin of victory is its largest since defeating Stony Brook by 55 points (62-7) in 2019 and the 20th-largest in school history. 
  • *Vaughns is the first Aggie to have back-to-back games with double-digit receptions since Kevin Curtis in 2001. 
  • *Utah State’s 51 first-half points are the second-most in school history, trailing only the 52 first-half points scored against New Mexico in 2018. 
  • *Utah State’s 44 second quarter points are the most scored in any quarter in school history, according to available records.
  • *Utah State’s 591 yards of total offense is the 24th-most in school history, while its 380 rushing yards are the 19th-most in school history.
  • *This game is the first time USU had two pick-sixes in the same game since doing so at Colorado State in 2018. 

*Stat was provided by USU Athletics Media Relations

Mountain West Standings

Results updated through 10:30 p.m. MT on Sept. 9.

Team This Week’s Opponent MW Record Overall Record
Air Force 13-3 W at Sam Houston 0-0 2-0
Fresno State 34-31 (2OT) W vs Eastern Washington 0-0 2-0
Wyoming 31-17 W vs Portland State 0-0 2-0
UNLV 35-7 L at No. 2 Michigan 0-0 1-1
Utah State 78-28 W vs Idaho State 0-0 1-1
New Mexico 56-10 W vs Tennessee Tech 0-0 1-1
San Jose State 59-3 W vs Cal Poly 0-0 1-2
Colorado State BYE 0-0 0-1
Boise State 18-16 L vs UCF 0-0 0-2
San Diego State 35-10 L vs UCLA 0-0 2-1
Hawaii vs Albany 0-0 0-2
Nevada 33-6 L vs Idaho 0-0 0-2

NEXT UP — Sept. 15 at Air Force (2-0)

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