For decades, the Aggies were a dormant program. They had no outright conference titles since 1936 and no 10-win seasons ever. Then they got a coach in Gary Andersen that brought that kind of unprecedented success, and a funny thing happened.
He wanted to stick around.
Utah State's 41-15 win over Toledo in the Potato Bowl caps the greatest season in program history, at least since facemasks started appearing on helmets. And with Anderson staying put, there's no reason to believe Utah State can't continue to have success.
Utah State's defense helped it maintain a small lead against Toledo into the fourth quarter, then the offense blew the game open. Specifically, Kerwynn Williams came alive. He had 198 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone - on just seven carries. That put the game away.
Utah State finishes the season 11-2. Its only two losses were by two points at Wisconsin and by three points at BYU. The bowl win was just the second in school history and the first since 1993. Utah State has a claim to be the best team in Utah this season, and Andersen, who is just 48, should have been a hot name when the coaching carousel started spinning, but he is happy where he is.
"Opportunities are wonderful," Andersen told Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman. "It was very humbling the last three or four weeks to go through that process and be involved in jobs. You learn a lot, but you also learn a lot about yourself and where you want to be.
"And you sit back and take a deep breath and know who you want to be able to be around. I love the kids I get to coach here. … The kids I have in the program, it just was not time. I look them in the eye and I need to be where I'm at."
Utah State loses some very talented seniors, including Williams and cornerback Will Davis. But, with Andersen back the Aggies should keep up a reasonable level of success as they go to the Mountain West next season. Utah State has rarely gone into an offseason with such positive momentum.
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