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Cougars vs. Utah State Aggies Pick.
Utah State Aggies (1-2 SU, 2-0 ATS) at BYU Cougars (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
Friday September 30th, 2011. 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 5
LaVell Edwards Stadium Provo, UT
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USU +8.5/BYU -8.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The BYU Cougars host their 2nd straight Friday night primetime spectacle this week when they host the Utah State Aggies at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Last week in front of the entire nation, the Cougars forced some big turnovers to rally from behind to beat Central Florida 24-17. The Cougars win temporarily erased bitterness from a 44 point blowout loss to Utah the week before and sparked some life back into the guys from Provo, Utah. This week BYU looks to build off that momentum when they take the big stage against a competitive Utah State Aggies football team.
In fact if the Aggies would have had the ball bounce the way a time or two more this season, then they would be undefeated. Remember Utah State nearly upset Auburn in the opener before allowing two late scores with the help of a recovered onside kick in the waning seconds of that ballgame. Then last week, more late game mistakes led to another disappointing loss when Utah State fell to Colorado State 35-34 in overtime. This week the Aggies look to put some of those blunders behind them as they look to get back to the .500 mark on the season.
The Utah State offense definitely has the firepower to put points on the scoreboard. Through their first 3 games, the Aggies have posted 42 points per game. The offense moves the ball extremely well on the ground as they sport the 5th best rushing offense in the country averaging 316 yards per game. Junior running back Robert Turbin leads the team in rushing with 365 yards and 8 touchdowns through the first 3 games. While Turbin is the center piece in that Aggies rushing attack, veteran tailbacks Michael Smith and Kerwynn Williams will also get touches as well. Both Smith and Williams are averaging a strong 9.0 yards per carry with 3 touchdowns on limited carries. Therefore, expect multiple looks from the Aggies backfield this Friday night in attempt to thwart a BYU rush defense that has given up 138 yards per game already this year.
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Even though Utah State rarely throws the ball, they can still make big plays in the passing game as well. QB Chuckie Keeton has completed 66% passing for 465 yards with 2 touchdowns and 0 picks. Keeton has only attempted 60 passes all season, but has been effective when needed. Keeton has the ability to find the open receiver when defenses lose focus in pass protection so it will be interested to see if BYU puts “too” much attention on the Utah State running game Friday.
While the Aggies have been impressive on offense, their counterpart in BYU has been rather disappointing on the offensive side of the football to say the least. The Cougars rank a miserable 111th in total offense (291 ypg) and 109th in scoring with just 16 points per game. In last week’s victory over Central Florida, it was the first time all year that the Cougars compiled more than 20 points in a single game. Still even in the victory over Central Florida, the offense was still dismal throughout the evening gaining just 260 total yards. Luckily, BYU forced some turnovers and fed off the home crowd atmosphere to put together just enough big plays to score the win last week.
This week BYU would love to get more help from the offense. Unfortunately, the star players on the Cougars offense have yet to shine. Running back JJ Di Luigi almost reached the 1,000 yard plateau in 2010, but has managed to compile just 164 yards rushing in 4 games this season. QB Jake Heaps also finished the 2010 season on a good note, but has yet to produce in 2011. Heaps is completing 55% passing for 855 yards with 3 touchdowns and 5 picks. One of those guys has to step up and lead this Cougars offense if things are going to change.
Still, the big advantage the Cougars have this Friday will be playing in Provo where they are an outstanding 28-4 SU in their last 32 home games. Last week, the Cougars were outplayed throughout the game but still found a way to make the big plays when it counted. If things do not change on offense, the Cougars will again have to make some big plays and use that home field atmosphere to their advantage.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I really like the Aggies and the points to cover easily. Take Utah State +8.5.
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