Utah State ups its strength of schedule

Utah State coach Stew Morrill has traditionally stuck to his guns when it comes to scheduling. And because the Aggies generally want to play teams that agree to make a return trip to Logan, where they are dominant, there are few takers.

The defending WAC champions have learned that it's not an easy road to take, since they won 30 regular-season games this past season and only managed to sneak in the NCAA tournament with a No. 12 seed.

So when it was announced Thursday that Utah State had entered into a three-game scheduling agreement with Mississippi State, the Aggies seemed as thrilled as if they had just inked a top recruit, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

"There is no doubt that we sought to strengthen our schedule in the non-conference," [Utah State athletic director Scott] Barnes said. "Coach [Stew] Morrill made this happen, I just signed the contract. We feel like this has the potential to be a very challenging schedule for us. We’re very excited to go out and play it."

Utah State will play twice in Starkville, including a game this New Years' Eve, and what the Aggies get in exchange is that coveted home game against a power conference school in 2013. It's a stark contrast to a year ago when Morrill had so much trouble finding a top opponent that he felt it was too good of an opportunity to pass up and play at Georgetown with no promise of a return trip to Logan.

The Mississippi State-Utah State series should be intriguing as well. In December, fans will get to see Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney take on an Aggies squad that loses a lot but probably not enough to expect a long rebuilding process. The game will have postseason implications for both teams.

It's a matchup worth scheduling and one Utah State was especially happy to get done.