Aggies Football: Preview of the 2024 season with a look at Utah and Temple
Aggies Football: Preview of the 2024 season with a look at Utah and Temple

LOGAN – This is part 2 of a weekly series analyzing all of Utah State’s football opponents before the start of the 2024 season, focusing on a top-ranked rival from the same state.

Utah Utes

Date: Saturday, September 14, 2:30 p.m. MDT (CBSSN)
Location: Maverick Stadium; Logan, Utah
Record 2023: 8-5 (5-4 Pac-12)
Final AP Rankings: N/A

Last meeting: September 11, 2015, Salt Lake City; Utah won 24-14
Preseason profit forecast: 9.5 wins

The Utah Utes enter the 2024 season with aspirations to prove something.

Utah is now officially a member of the Big 12, and with the return of quarterback Cam Rising after missing last year due to injury, expectations for the Utes are already high.

Utah was tipped by the media to win the Big 12 title in its first year, although the 2023 season can be described as weak. But a large part of the Utes’ problems last year were injuries. In addition to Rising, Brant Kuithe missed all of last season with a knee injury, and linebacker Lander Barton was also injured for part of the season.

But a fully healthy Utes roster is a problem for most teams in the country, let alone the Aggies. In one respect, Utah has stability — not just in its top players, but also in its coaching staff. Utah State, however, is dealing with upheaval in its program, with Blake Anderson likely to be fired.

Coach Kyle Whittingham is preparing for another year at the helm. He turns 65 in November, but hasn’t said much about his plans to retire soon – although that doesn’t completely settle the question. Regardless, all signs point to Whittingham becoming coach in 2024.

The Utes recently made a move that hints at their future plans if Whittingham decides to end his career. The program named defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley its “coach in waiting” as part of the contract extension he signed in November.

On offense, Rising will once again lead the way as a versatile and very experienced quarterback. The return of Kuithe as a tight end will also be helpful. This pairing will not only inspire confidence among the coaches, but also among teammates.

Utah lost last year’s best running back, Ja’Quinden Jackson, to Arkansas, but was able to retain rushers Jaylon Glover and Micah Bernard.

The wide receiver position has been a bit questionable for the Utes in recent years, but in Money Parks and Munir McClain they have two high-usage players who are poised for bigger roles this year. It will also be interesting to follow Mycah Pittman’s role. He transferred from Florida State in 2023 but only played in one game.

The team has also signed proven receiver Dorian Singer, who should prove to be a real weapon for the Utes.

Utah ranked 13th in the country in total defense last year, allowing just 307.2 yards per game. Within that number, it ranked fifth in first-down defense. Expect the Utes to continue to be on that side of the field.

This game, like many against top opponents, will be difficult for Utah State to win. The Utes are simply on a different level compared to the Aggies. Fans can expect Utah State to come out of this game healthy, and not much else.

Temple Owls

Date: Saturday, September 21 (to be announced)
Location: Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia
Record 2023: 3-9 (1-7 AAC)
Final AP Rankings: N/A

Last meeting: N/A
Preseason profit forecast: 2.5 wins

Temple wasn’t a good team last year and there aren’t many signs that it will be any different in 2024.

Stan Drayton is entering his third year as head coach. During that time, he has won a total of six games, but only two of those were conference games. Temple’s last successful season was 2019.

The Owls were a weak offensive team last year, averaging just 21.1 points per game. Their defense was no better, allowing 35.7 points.

It’s safe to say Temple is a pass-first team. The Owls accumulated about three times as many passing yards as rushing yards. The air attack was led by quarterback EJ Warner, who transferred to Rice in the offseason. Forrest Brock could be Warner’s replacement in the fall, but he only played in one game last year.

The Owls also lost their best runner, Darvon Hubbard, who entered the transfer portal in January. But Joquez Smith remains on the roster after posting 325 rushing yards in 10 games last year.

USC graduate Ashton Allen transferred to Temple as a wide receiver, a move some consider crucial for the Owls, whose two best receivers from last year have graduated.

Temple and Utah State have never met before, and both programs have gone through major changes to their rosters. In theory, the Aggies should win this game, but there are enough new players on both sides that it could be closer than many think.

By Isla