SAN JOSE -- There is no dramatic message San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre needs to deliver to remind his team of the heartbreak it's suffered against Utah State.
The Spartans have lost the past three meetings with the Aggies, with the last two decided by last-minute Utah State touchdowns.
"I don't have to say anything to them," MacIntyre said. "The guys that were in the locker room the last couple of years understand it. You give all the credit to Utah State, they made the plays at the end of the games to win them. I'm pretty sure it'll be another down-to-the-wire type football game. I just hope this time we come out on top."
Even though Utah State has prevailed of late, the Aggies are aware of how tough a game this could be on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
"Our games against San Jose State have been a struggle, to say the least," Aggies coach Gary Andersen said. "Very good games, very hard-fought, physical games. In my opinion, two very good football teams, and I don't expect anything different this year."
Two years ago, Utah State scored a touchdown with 34 seconds left to earn a 38-34 win at Spartan Stadium.
Last year's defeat was even tougher to swallow. SJSU had a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter before the Aggies scored two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes, 19 seconds. A 21-yard pass from Adam Kennedy to Matt Austin with 47 seconds left produced Utah State's 34-33 victory.
The loss was the Spartans'
"It was hard because we had done so well and to lose at the end, it was hard to deal with," SJSU defensive end Travis Johnson said. "Now they're coming here. We're a better team. We're more physical, more prepared. It's encouragement, and it's also fuel."
Quarterback David Fales wasn't around for those losses, but his teammates have given him an idea of what to expect.
"They know they're going to play hard," Fales said of the Aggies. "They're a good, aggressive team. Their defense is kind of a scrappy defense. They'll get in your face."
There's more on the line than avenging two frustrating losses. The Western Athletic Conference opener against another team expected to contend for the title places extra importance on this game.
"Our goal is to win the WAC, so the first step is to beat Utah State," Johnson said.
A large crowd for homecoming might help. The Spartans' last win over the Aggies came on homecoming in 2008, and SJSU is 3-0 all-time when facing Utah State in its homecoming game.
"It's awesome being able to be recognized like that," Johnson said. "You don't hear a lot of smaller D-1 schools having something like that."
Johnson's the only player from a non-BCS conference to make the quarterfinalist list of 25 players and the first SJSU player in the 43 years of the award to make that cut.
Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.
Utah State (4-2) at San Jose State (4-1), 1 p.m. KOFY, CSNBA