USC Sports

Utah State looks for ‘milestone’ victory against USC

In each of the last four seasons, Utah State has moved closer to upsetting opponents from Bowl Championship Series conferences.

In 2009, Texas A&M defeated the visiting Aggies by eight points. The next year, Oklahoma won by seven. And in 2011, Auburn held off Utah State by four points.

Last season, Utah State missed a field-goal attempt in the final seconds at Wisconsin, allowing the Badgers to escape with a 16-14 victory.

Wisconsin, apparently impressed, hired Utah State’s Gary Andersen to be its coach last December.


So Utah State comes to the Coliseum on Saturday intent on finally getting over the BCS hump against USC.

First-year Coach Matt Wells said Monday that a victory over the Trojans would be “a milestone” for a program that finished 11-2 last season and is off to a 2-1 start.

“It would be a benchmark and it would be huge,” Wells told reporters during a weekly news conference, adding, “Hopefully we can play well early and get it to the fourth quarter, then we’ll see what happens.”

Utah State, led by quarterback Chuckie Keeton, is averaging 49.3 points and 550.3 yards per game. The Aggies lost their opener against Utah, 30-26, but have scored a combined 122 points in victories over Air Force and Weber State.


USC’s defense presents a more formidable test.

“They’re top 10 in like 30 defensive categories,” Wells said.

The Trojans are second nationally in rushing defense, third in sacks and fourth in total defense. They are sixth in interceptions, tackles for losses and pass-efficiency defense, and eighth in scoring defense.

Utah State running back Joey DeMartino rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns in eight carries in last week’s 70-6 victory over Weber State.

DeMartino told reporters he grew up watching former Trojans star Reggie Bush, a fellow San Diego native. DeMartino is one of 13 Californians on the Aggies’ roster.

“Being from Southern California, USC is the dream school to go to when you grow up out there,” he said Monday. “Having the opportunity to actually play against them is kind of an even better feeling now because I used to think there was no team on the same level as USC.

“But now coming to Utah State and seeing our program completely change around after the last four years, I like this opportunity even better to get a ‘W’ against them.”

Quick hits


Receiver Darreus Rogers, who was injured against Boston College, was on crutches with a protective boot on his right foot and lower leg Monday. ... Running back Silas Redd was in uniform but once again wore running shoes, not cleats, when he entered and left the practice facility. USC does not make players or coaches available after Monday practices during weeks with Saturday games. ... Saturday’s game against Utah State will be televised by Channel 7 locally and on ESPN for most of the country, USC announced. USC’s Sept. 28 game at Arizona State will kick off at either 7 p.m. on ESPN or 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2. USC said the television networks will finalize the time after this weekend’s games.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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