The upcoming holiday season is going to be an eventful one for the Utah State football program.
The Mountain West released its full national television package for the upcoming season, and the Aggies found out they will be playing on Halloween and Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving Day matchup with New Mexico at Maverik Stadium will be the second of three straight Thursday-night games for USU.
Four of USU’s games will take place on a Saturday, with the other four being played on a Thursday. All eight Aggie games will be televised on either the CBS Sports Network (CBSSN), Fox Sports 1 (FS1) or Fox Sports 2 (FS2).
The official start time of five of Utah State’s eight games was also announced, with the majority planned for 7 or 7:30 p.m.
USU will quickly find out if it is a legitimate conference contender as it travels to defending Mountain West champion Boise State for its season opener on Saturday, Oct. 24. Opening kickoff for Albertsons Stadium is slated for 5 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on FS1.
Utah State’s home opener will take place the following Saturday against another perennial league contender in San Diego State. That showdown, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., will be televised on CBSSN.
How many fans will be allowed to attend that home opener and the other three contests at Maverik Stadium, for that matter, is still being sorted out, a USU spokesman said Wednesday afternoon.
A week ago, John Hartwell, Utah State’s athletic director, said in a radio interview he “anticipates” having 5,500 fans at the home games, which is about 20 percent of the stadium’s capacity.
The Mountain West has stated on a couple of occasions it wouldn’t restrict the number of fans allowed at each member venue, but the decision would ultimately be determined in conjunction with local, county and state officials.
In addition to SDSU, the Aggies will also host Fresno State (Saturday, Nov. 14, TBA, FS1 or FS2), New Mexico (Thursday, Nov. 26, TBA, FS1) and Air Force (Thursday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN).
USU’s other road games will take place at Nevada (Thursday, Nov. 5, TBA, FS1), Wyoming (Thursday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m., CBSSN) and Colorado State (Saturday, Dec., 12, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN).
While some USU student-athletes have had COVID-19 over the summer, according to spokesperson Doug Hoffman, a recent test of nearly 200 players, staff and coaches only turned up two positives as of Monday.
Rapid COVID-19 antigen testing for the virus among USU student-athletes began this week, Hoffman wrote in an email to The Herald Journal. An outside contractor will test players three times a week. If it turns out a player has COVID-19, they’ll be self-isolated for 10 days and contact tracing will begin to see if anyone else needs to be quarantined.
“If we have to self-isolate or quarantine the team for 14 days, there will be challenges,” Hoffman wrote. “We are working with our coaches and strength and conditioning staff to make sure that we are in the best possible shape now and if we have set backs, we will work with them to get our kids as quickly and safely as possible.”
Herald Journal writer Steve Kent contributed to this report.