What was once a promising 2013-14 season is now thought of as a memory, dashed by a season-ending knee injury to starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
Also stuck on the injured list for the remainder of the season: running back Joe Hill and offensive tackle Kyle Whimpey, both starters.
The three comprise two-thirds of the Aggie offense expected to compete for a shot at a BCS bowl, a reality had Utah State won the Mountain West Conference title outright -- and received some help from other mid-majors.
The Mountain West title is still up for grabs, however, Utah State forfeited its claim to the BCS having lost to rival Utah in week one -- then following it up with losses to BYU and USC.
As for the MWC, the Aggies are unbeaten in conference play. It's 2-0 going into this all-important rivalry game Saturday versus Boise State (6 p.m., CBS College Network) and everything is still available -- when it comes to a MWC title.
"Obviously Chuckie's a great leader of this whole team and of this offense. Losing him is obviously a huge blow to us as a team. But at this point of the season we have to move past that and depend on another guy," said USU linebacker Zachary Vigil. "I know we can do it; we have the people to do it. When you have an injury on the offensive side of the ball, the defense has to play better. We have to play better or we will lose, and we will continue to lose.
What a tough way to go though if you're Utah State though. You lose your starting quarterback one week -- and have to face your bitter rival Boise State, the next.
It's as if God doesn't have a sense of humor when it comes to the Aggies, who apparently haven't even named a starting quarterback for this game.
To make matters worse, Utah State had no offense last week against BYU -- and its defense, heretofore thought of as invincible was transparent as the Cougars nearly threw for 300 which was an anomaly and a shock.
That the Cougars ran the football surprised no one. That the Cougars ran the ball on the Aggies probably surprised everyone in Romney Stadium, and lent credence to the argument that BYU is a pretty good running team.
Even one year ago, that's something nobody would believe.
Speaking of, does anyone believe in these Utah State Aggies? We're about to find out how deep allegiances run in Cache County -- because there are three ways Utah State can remain among the unbeaten in the MWC:
Stick with a quarterback
It probably sounds cliche to say this, but you have to be unsure if you're an Aggie fan knowing who your starting quarterback will be Saturday.
This much is certain; it will be a pocket passer -- which is far different from the physical specimen that is Chuckie Keeton.
It will either be Craig Harrison, a Grantsville native via Snow College who did OK for the Aggies after Keeton went down to injury last week against BYU -- or freshman Darell Garretson.
Harrison didn't necessarily do anything wrong against the Cougars; in fact he threw for 186 yards on 18-of-41 pass attempts -- and did not throw an interception.
"I was proud of him for coming in because I don't think he flinched. He played well at times, he played not-so-good at times," said USU head coach Matt Wells. "We have to clean him up and do some things with him. That's a hard situation for that kid to come in to because they're pinning their ears back after him. I thought he did some good stuff, I think he did some stuff he's probably going to want back. It's a difficult situation, but now he's going to have to respond and lead this group."
He even ran for 36 yards and six carries -- which actually was a better yards per carry average than Keeton.
And, Harrison did throw a touchdown pass, leading a drive that took 88 yards in 11 plays -- though it was against the Cougars' second-team defense.
So, there were bright spots for Harrison; there simply weren't enough for USU head coach Matt Wells to name him the starter against Boise State.
If you're the coach, who would you pick? Harrison, who actually has had reps in a live game -- or the freshman Garretson, who hasn't played a down but has some intangibles that Harrison lacks?
Wells must think highly enough of Garretson because as soon as Keeton went down, off went the Chandler, Ariz. product's red shirt.
Garretson is also two inches shorter than Harrison -- and two years younger. If you're a betting man, you'll put your money on Harrison to start this Saturday.
The key to the Aggies' success will be sticking with Harrison -- who clearly, if only rudimentary -- has a grasp of Utah State's offense and will likely have a game plan more tailored to his needs this Saturday.
Stopping the Boise State passing game
Boise State has its passing game going after nearly being blanked by Washington the opening week.
You could clearly hear the cries, however muted, for Kellen Moore after that week one debacle, but senior quarterback Joe Southwick has now put his stamp on the Broncos offense.
Southwick has thrown for over 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns -- versus just three interceptions.
In his three victories in which Boise averaged over 50 points per game, Southwick threw for about 280 yards per game -- and his passing efficiency rating was off the charts, well over 200 in two of those three outings.
Where you have to look for flaws in Southwick is with his pass completion percentage. In Boise's two losses, it hovered at about 65 percent -- a percentage most QB's would love to have.
Also, in both losses Southwick threw over 40 passes in each game -- and was sacked four times at Fresno State in the Broncos' 42-40 loss.
Now fast forward, if you will, to Utah State's game against San Jose State. Against the Spartans the Aggies faced a sure-fire high NFL Draft pick in QB David Fales.
Though you can't compare Southwick to a QB like Fales, the Aggies did some similar things to Fales that Boise opponents have done to Southwick.
For starters, Utah State made Fales beat them with his arm -- same as what Washington and Fresno State did with Boise's QB.
Fales may have thrown the ball 48 times -- but he also threw two interceptions and was sacked once.
Utah State provided a variety of stunts and blitzes from linebackers and even from the corners to confuse Fales into making bad reads.
This will likely be the same strategy that the Aggies use against the Broncos on Saturday -- because the only way to beat a game manager is to out-think him.
Utah State knows what mistakes it made against BYU last weekend; the key will be correcting them.
"I thought they (defense) bowed up in the red zone and played really tough at times and got a couple stops, said Wells. "They gave up shots in the back end and we weren't doing anything in the offense to keep grace anyway. At that point, it is just more salt in the wound."
Throwing the football
Speaking of salt in the wound, the Aggies were unable to throw the football last week against a BYU Cougars secondary that only had three interceptions going into the contest.
Now fast forward to this week, and you've got a Boise State secondary that already has eight in five games. Talk about a turnaround.
What that statistic tells you is Harrison -- or Garretson -- must do a great job managing the football game, or this one could get ugly in a hurry.
Boise's secondary is physical like a Pac-12 defense -- big, and very athletic. Harrison has the height (like Keeton he's 6-2) and can make some of the throws like Keeton.
What the Broncos will likely do is try to keep Harrison in the pocket -- because he proved against BYU that he can run -- and force the junior to beat Boise's secondary with his arm.
If Harrison completes less than 50 percent of his passes against the Broncos, you can guarantee that Boise will try to keep Harrison from making it to the edge where he's more dangerous.
This game will also tell Aggie fans where Harrison stands as a passer. Boise State's defense does force turnovers (7 sacks, 8 INT's, 3 fumble recoveries) so the Aggies will need to play fairly conservative and chew clock.
Safe throws in the flat and on slants will be critical for Harrison to complete to keep the chains moving.
If he can limit his pass attempts to no more than 35 in the game -- and get the running game going with Joey DeMartino to offset what is likely to be a ferocious Boise pass rush, he has a chance.
However, if the Broncos get to him early and often it will be a long day for the junior from Grantsville who now has his own pressure to deal with.
A hungry fan base is expecting results, no matter how unrealistic the conditions may seem in Logan tomorrow.