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Utah State at Utah Preview: Aggies Going For Two Straight Against Rivals

A lot of pride will be on the line in the opening Pac-12 game of the 2013 season.

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Utah State at Utah - Thursday, August 29 5 p.m. p.t./6 p.m. m.t. Fox Sports One

The story of the game -Can the Aggies win two in a row over the Utes without Gary Andersen?

The Utes have dominated the series since the early 70s, but an Aggie win in 2012, paired with an 11-win season compared to Utah's disappointing five-win campaign points to a potential swing in momentum. Thrown in that Utah State is expected to compete for the Mountain West title their first year in the conference, and most think Utah has no chance to compete in the Pac-12 South, and things definitely could be changing in Utah. It won't be easy to do it, especially without former coach Gary Andersen (Now at Wisconsin), but the Aggies could push the Utes further into the mud, and get their highly-anticipated season off to a dream start.

What's at stake for Utah?

Pride - Two-straight losses to the Aggies has to be a nightmare for the Utes and their fans, who have long been used to routing their little brother from Logan.

A much-needed win - With a Pac-12 schedule that has only one or two games that they should be expected to win, and a non-conference schedule that also features a game at a strong BYU team, the Utes cannot afford to lose a home game against an evenly matched rival like the Aggies.

What's at stake for the Pac-12?

Oregon and Stanford have done a lot in recent seasons to prove that the top of the Pac-12 is as strong as any other conference in the nation, but I think some might suspect that the middle, and bottom of the conference isn't any better than the Mountain West. A Utah win over what is expected to be one of the Mountain West's best teams in 2013 would go a long ways to dispel that thinking.

Pac-12 Enemies (Utah State players to watch)

QB Chuckie Keeton

Athletic, versatile and tough, Keeton has started for the Aggies since he was a freshman and has been a big part of their renaissance. Keeton threw for more than 3,300 yards and ran for more than 600 in 2013 while also tossing 27 touchdowns, and running for 8. He's the heart and soul of the Aggies, and one of the best quarterbacks in the QB-loaded Mountain West.

DE Connor Williams

The Aggies' best pass rusher, Williams had six sacks in 2012 and is a heavy defensive end at 280 pounds that could make things very difficult for Utah quarterback Travis Wilson if the Utes' offensive line can't contain him.

Pac-12 players on the spot

QB Travis Wilson

The time for freshman excuses are over. Wilson has almost an entire season, and an entire off-season, under his belt as a starter now. He has to step up from game one and make defenses fear him when he has the ball in his hands or the Utah offense will be remain stagnant.

Why watch?

It's the first Pac-12 game of the season and it's a rivalry game between two evenly matched teams.