RUSTON, La. — Kerwynn Williams has a little payback on his mind.
He also wants nothing more than to help lead Utah State to a Western Athletic Conference championship.
Williams can accomplish both of those feats today when the Aggies take on 19th-ranked Louisiana Tech in a showdown between the top two teams in the WAC. Kickoff from Joe Aillet Stadium is slated for 2 p.m.
“It’s big,” said Williams, who leads the WAC in all-purpose yards (150.40 ypg). “This is my last chance to get one, so it’s a big game for me personally. Louisiana Tech was the team that knocked us out of contention last year, so to be able to face them this year for the WAC championship is big.
“It will definitely help keep us pushing for the next games after that, but right now all we can do is focus on (Louisiana Tech).”
Both teams come into today’s showdown 4-0 in the league. The winner will claim a share of the title.
“Obviously, the Louisiana Tech game is a huge game for the Aggies and a huge game for the Bulldogs,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “It’s fun to be in a game that has this much on the outcome, this late in the year. Late November games are what football teams play for and fans want to be around.
“It’s a great accomplishment by both sides to get to the point where both teams are. We are excited about the opportunity to compete and I am sure they are, too. It’s a fun time for all Aggies to be associated with a game like this.”
The Bulldogs (9-1 overall), winners of four straight, are the reigning WAC champions. LTU is seeking back-to-back conference titles for the first time since 1977-78.
“They have known for really the last month where we have been in terms of understanding this is a big football game,” Tech head coach Sonny Dykes said. “I think we probably have not played as well over the last month as we would have liked to in some ways, but I think our guys have known this has been coming for a long time.
“We will be excited to play. Anytime the season starts, your first goal is to win a conference championship and that is true with us. This game is going to be a big determining factor of who wins the conference championship.”
The Bulldogs, who have won 10 WAC games in a row dating back to last season, are well aware of the fact they haven’t played up to their standards over the past month. They hope to change that today.
“Utah State is a great team,” LTU quarterback Colby Cameron said. “I think it is encouraging for our team knowing that we have not played our best on both sides of the ball. We have not played a complete game and I think once the offense, defense and special teams can all get on the same page, we will have a real explosive game.”
The Aggies (8-2) have won nine consecutive WAC games dating back to their 24-17 home loss to Tech on Oct. 22, 2011.
On top of that, USU has won six of its last eight road games, including five straight in the WAC.
“They are just playing well,” Dykes said. “That is the thing. You can see they are playing with a lot of confidence. They have a lot of leadership on the team. They do things the right way.
“They are in a great position defensively play after play after play. They have a lot of maturity in that group, and they are just playing at a high level.”
The Aggies are certainly playing well on the defensive side of the ball and could prove to be the Bulldogs’ toughest test.
“It certainly is statistically,” Dykes said. “I do not think you can argue with that. I think Texas A&M has a good defense and done some good things, but yeah, I would think so.
“This group right here collectively is really, really good. You just look at them and they are never out of place. Guys are in sync and they just know how to play good defensive football.”
On a national level, USU ranks in the top 20 in five statistical categories.
Conversely, Tech is first in the nation in total offense (576.50 ypg) and second in scoring offense (53.40 ppg).
“We know we’re going to be tested like never before,” said Aggies cornerback Will Davis, who has recorded an interception in three straight games.
Davis is looking forward to not only playing for the WAC title, but matching up against Quinton Patton, LTU’s leading receiver and a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist.
“I’m super-excited,” Davis said. “Of course, this is basically for the WAC championship, so it’s an exciting game for that reason. But even personally, I know (Patton) is probably the best receiver I’ve gone up against all year, so I’m excited for that.
“I’ve been bugging coach for the last couple of weeks, to be honest. I want to match him up all day. He lines up to the quarterback’s strength, on the right side, so in a sense I could have that happen.”
The Aggies, who have scored at least 38 points in their last four games, should have no trouble moving the ball and putting up points against a Bulldogs defense that statistically is one of the worst in the nation. LTU ranks 119th in total defense (505.70) and 108th in scoring defense (36.20 ppg).
“We’re definitely a dynamic team this year, but we have to just take whatever the defense is giving us and as long as we don’t make any mental errors, play smart with the football and try not to turn it over, that’s definitely going to help us out,” USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton said.
The Bulldogs lead the overall series with the Aggies 6-3 and have won two straight. USU, losers of three straight on the road in the series, is looking for its first win in Ruston since 1994.