Utah State Aggies vs. Boise State Broncos Prediction
Utah State Aggies (10-1 SU, 9-2 ATS) vs. Boise State Broncos (9-2 SU, 6-4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date and Time: Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 10:15PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Point Spread: USU +3/BSU -3
Over/Under Total: 68
The Utah State Aggies take on the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium on Saturday in a big Mountain West Conference matchup with a lot at stake. The winner of this game will win the MWC Mountain division and face Fresno State in the title game, with some big things perhaps in store for the winner. The Aggies are riding high after what might be a transcendent 10-1 season. They have been over-performing, as evidenced by their immense ATS record of 9-2. Things get a little more real this week, however, with a road spot against Boise St. looming as a test that is beyond anything they have seen this season. I like Boise to cover the spread at home this week. Let’s take a look at this matchup.
After a 3-2 start and an upset home-loss to San Diego State, one can understand how people were shoveling dirt on the prospects of the 2018 Broncos. But not so fast—as six straight wins followed and Boise is now on the cusp of conference supremacy once again. But their work will be cut out for them with an Aggies team whose commitment cannot be undersold. This team has covered a lot of distance from where they were a short time ago to a team that is leading their division with an unbeaten 7-0 conference record. Since losing by a single score on the road to Michigan State in their season-opener, they have prevailed in each game. This one has a different feel to it, however.
Utah State: Show and Prove Time
After leading the Aggies to 9 and 10 win seasons in 2013-14, head coach Matt Wells and his team went into a funk for several years, going 15-23 leading into this bonanza of a season. So when a team covers that much ground, one hesitates to nit-pick. Still, when breaking these games down, we have to look behind for clues. While they play in the same division, these teams took different paths to get here, and while Boise had to play every tough MWC team, the Aggies have benefitted from having a schedule that shook out favorably for them. In addition, we have seen them more prone to being exploited in recent weeks, even as they have continued winning. Last week’s 29-24 win over a lousy Colorado State team where they needed a last-minute score to sew up the victory as 30-point favorites underlines that.
Still, there is no questioning the strides the Aggies have made this season, bolstered by one of the more-illustrious offenses in the nation, averaging a hefty 49.3 points a game. With 25 TDs and just 4 picks, QB Jordan Love has been excellent in commandeering this offense. He is bolstered by a strong line and a run-game that packs a big punch with Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright combining for 26 touchdowns on the season. They have a vast receiving crew with Ron’Quavion Tarver, Jalen Greene, Aaren Vaughns, and Savon Scarver, who is also a dangerous return man. This is an offense that flexes a lot of balance, with a variety of different ways they can get you.
Again, it’s worth noting that this Mountain West is a conference with a lot of variances. The better teams can hang with anyone in the country on the right day. The lesser teams, all of which magically ended up on Utah State’s schedule, can be downright awful—teams like New Mexico, San Jose, Colorado State, UNLV, and Air Force. Those teams bear little resemblance to a home Boise team that is playing for their conference lives. Nothing Utah State has seen recently can prepare them for this defense. Boise rushes the passer like no one else in the conference and has been pretty stingy against good opposition, allowing just over 22 points a game. Up-front, Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier really get after the QB, and Kekoa Nawahine makes a lot happen in the secondary. Add in corner Tyler Horton and his three defensive touchdowns this season, it’s clear Utah State will be seeing a different animal this week.
Matchup Advantages For Utah State
Granted, the Aggies haven’t flexed their powers against the highest level of opposition, but that doesn’t mean some advantages don’t exist. Again, the Aggies have a robust offense that can get it done aerially or on the ground. And while Boise has been pretty good against the run, their secondary isn’t the stoutest, even if they do make a lot of plays. And while defense often becomes an afterthought when your offense is putting up 50 points a game on average, the Aggies have some juice defensively, allowing just over 22 points a game, just like Boise.
Boise wields a substantial collection of weapons. QB Brett Rypien is a “4th-year” starter with a lot of experience in games like this. Alexander Mattison is a top back in the MWC and has 13 TDs. And with Sean Modster, AJ Richardson, John Hightower, CT Thomas, and others, there are ample options aerially. In terms of sheer variety, this is an offense unlike any Utah St. has seen this season. The Aggies look to use some of their stoutness, along with their playmaking element to keep a lid on the Broncos’ offense. They can rush the passer with LB David Woodwards and Tipa Galeai leading the way. With a half-dozen pick-sixes this season, the pass-defense can really make a lot of plays, with 18 total picks on the year. This is a unit that can make a lot of good things happen.
Lay the Points on the Home Favorite
Granted, the bottom-line results this season would tend to favor Utah State. Their stats are more-robust overall, as is their W-L record. But a lot of that had to do with context. And if Utah State had to play good conference teams like Fresno, Nevada, and San Diego St. maybe they’d have a few setbacks along the way. This is a tough spot for Utah State to take a big step up in class. The stakes are big, but so is the gulf between Boise and the teams Utah State has beaten up on this season. I see Utah State doing well, but also getting a little bit of a reality sandwich this week. I’m taking Boise.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Boise State Broncos minus 3 points.