Utah State Aggies (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Friday, October 23, 2015 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
TV: ESPN 2
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USU -5.5/SDSU +5.5
Over/Under Total: Off
The Utah State Aggies make the trip to Mission Valley and Qualcomm Stadium to face the San Diego Aztecs in what is a key Mountain West Conference battle. With the Aztecs starting 1-3 and Utah State starting at 1-2, it didnt look like this Friday game would be very meaningful a few weeks ago, but it turns out it is, with Utah State atop the Mountain Division at 3-0 in conference, with San Diego State perched atop the West Division, also at 3-0 in conference play. Both of these teams have gotten it together in short order and each faces a nice opportunity to notch a good win here at Qualcomm Stadium.
Utah State got a big boost to their program with a home win over 24th-ranked and division favorite Boise State last week, in a big 52-26 triumph. The win was big for Utah State in a lot of ways, as it let them know that they are to be contended with in 2015. And San Diego State was able to nose above .500 at 4-3 after a 30-7 road win over San Jose State. After scoring consecutive conference road wins, the Aztecs return home with renewed hope on the season.
As big underdogs, few suspected Utah State would win, much less annihilate Boise State last Friday. In addition to three straight wins, theyve covered the spread three straight times, as well. They took an immense 45-10 halftime lead over Boise State, with the final score not even doing justice as to how lopsided the game truly was. QB Kent Myers had perhaps his best-ever game. He was smart, moved around well, and made good plays with his legs and arm. He is beginning to morph into a decent dual-threat quarterback. He leans on a nice stable of playmakers, guys like Devante Mays, who always seems to spring forth with a big play. LaJuan Hunt is a quality back who catches passes out of the backfield. This offense has begin to form an identity, with contributors who can be relied upon to come through in a pinch.
What was really impressive against Boise was the overall Utah State team disposition. They just really got after it last Friday, outplaying Boise State at virtually every turn. Sure, Boise State had a lot to do with that by committing a staggering 7 first-half turnovers, but a lot of that can be attributed to an aggressive Aggies D that really went for the gusto against the Broncos. Linebackers Nick Vigil and Nick Fackrell were both excellent on Friday, making plays left and right. Marwan Evans ran back a pick for a touchdown. Was Boise State perhaps overrated? Maybe so, but it still means something for a program that scored their first home win over a ranked opponent since 1991.
Again, this was hard to predict for those who saw the Aggies early on in the season. They barely beat Southern Utah, 12-6, before dropping games to Utah and Washington. But those were tough road games, where a lot was being asked of Utah State. In their wheelhouse, the MWC, its been a different story. Coach Matt Wells has been able to maximize the talent and create a cohesive unit. Utah State is carrying some momentum and will need it in the nighttime bog of Qualcomm, where the Aztecs can be like a big wet blanket over the field, rendering teams impotent and draining the life right out of them.
While Utah State orchestrated a nice turn-around, San Diego State was even more in the dumps. While USU was losing to Utah and Washington, San Diego State was coming up short at home against the likes of South Alabama, while also getting beaten by Penn State and Cal. That South Alabama loss was a really tough result to stomach and it indicated a dreary future. But just like that, the Aztecs have turned it aroundplaying defense and unfurling a robust ground-game led by Donnel Pumphrey. In their last three games, all against MWC opponents, the Aztecs have allowed 28 combined points, while scoring 79. On Saturday against SJSU as underdogs, the Aztecs got 155 yards on the ground by Pumphrey and 55 yards through the air. QB Maxwell Smith continues to efficiently run the offense and has gone 5 games without throwing a pick.
The Aztecs are showing improvement and thats what you want to see at this point in the season as they get into the meat of the conference schedule. Theyre running the ball effectively and playing good defense. That alone puts them ahead of the game. They really were looking awful early in the season and head coach Rocky Long has done a good job in getting this team on the right track. The offense operates well enough to keep the defense off the field. And when the defense isnt hung out to dry, they are good against both the run and the pass. It will be interesting to see if Utah State will be able to run the ball well against the Aztecs, with SDSU very tough in that area over the past few weeks. But lets face itbeating Fresno, Hawaii, and San Jose State is one thing, beating a top conference team is another. While the Aztecs have looked better in recent weeks, the opponents have had something to do with that.
Utah State scored a very visible win over a high-profile team in Boise State in a Friday night showcase in their last game. Compare that to San Diego State, who has been so low-key that its easy for them to go unnoticed. Their recent upsurge may have gone by without much attention. But a home team like the Aztecs that can run the ball and play D is a tough team to cover against when laying a handful of points. Still, the superior diversity of the Utah State offense could pay off, as will the superior level of their opposition.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Utah State Aggies minus 5.5 points.
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