Wyoming Cowboys (1-7 SU, 5-3 ATS) vs. Utah State Aggies (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Friday, October 30, 2015 at 10:15PM EST
Where: Romney Stadium, Logan, Utah
TV: ESPN 2
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WYO +28/USU -28
Over/Under Total: 50.5
In Friday night Mountain West Conference action, the Wyoming Cowboys travel to Logan to meet the Utah State Aggies. Both teams had a tough time of it last week. Wyoming lost by 20 at Boise State, 34-14, in a loss that sent them to 1-7. The previous week, they had seen some promise with a 28-21 win over Nevada. Utah State was coming off a huge stomping of Boise State and looked to take it to the next level, but got lit up on the road by San Diego State in a discouraging 48-14 loss.
Wyoming has certainly had a rough time of it in 2015, getting off to a deflating 1-7 start. This is a team that hasnt quite given up, as attested by their surprisingly-good performance at the betting windows where theyve covered the spread 5 out of 8 times. Still, its hard to take a sad song and make it better when youre losing games to the likes of North Dakota, Eastern Michigan, New Mexico, and Appalachian State. A 4-win team last season, Wyoming has a ways to go if they hope to equal that mark this season.
The problems for Wyoming are multifold. The best part of their team and the reason theyve covered 5 of 8 times is a pass-defense that is usually pretty stout. Other than that, they havent gotten much right yet this season. Their offense is fairly milquetoast, with a run game that isnt terribly impactful and an aerial attack that lacks a real push and is devoid of playmakers. Quarterback Cameron Coffman has had some success, going over 1500 yards with 15 TD passes and 7 interceptions. But a shoulder injury suffered last week has him doubtful for this game. If he cant go, freshman Nick Smith will get the start. Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt are a decent 1-2 receiver punch who have contributed 9 touchdowns. But Gentry is also doubtful with a shoulder injury. An offense that couldnt really afford any losses looks to be further compromised this week.
Wyoming does have one of the better backs in the conference in Brian Hill. Look for Smith to rely heavily on the back. The sophomore has strung together some nice performances this season and could be an impactful force in this game. He is averaging nearly 6 yards per carry and has been a real workhorse for this team, working behind an offensive line that doesnt always play terribly well. If Wyoming hopes to be in this game to any extent, Hill is going to need to be big.
Its not going to be easy for people who watched Utah State last week to take them as 4 touchdown favorites against anyone. They were simply horrible. Granted, Qualcomm Stadium is a tough place to play and San Diego State has really done well to orchestrate one of the more dramatic team turnarounds in the whole nation. But a 48-14 hammering came most unexpected for a team that was actually favored. When a team misses the spread by over 30 points, its only right that some alarm bells sound.
But this is different for USU. First of all, Wyoming is nowhere near as tough as the Aztecs. And at home, things can be dramatically different for the Aggies. They generally thrive in this venue, as this was where they decimated a then-ranked Boise team a few short weeks ago. It was their first home win over a ranked team in quite some time. And despite the setback, Utah State is still tied at 3-1 (MWC) atop the Mountain division with Boise and Air Force and will be looking to get their season on the right track this week.
And Utah State should be able to rebound, if their previous steadfastness is any indication. They opened the season with a win over FCS foe Southern Utah, by a surprisingly-close score of 12-6. Two losses followed and Utah State was looking pretty bad after 3 weeks of the season. But they rebounded with 3 straight wins. After a loss on Saturday, they will be looking to do so again.
Utah State quarterback Kent Myers had a rough game against the Aztecs, as the Aggies only had 239 total yards on the evening. That followed a career-best outing that Myers had at home the previous week against Boise State. Look for him getting back home to give way to a better performance. Though they were quiet on Saturday night, Devante Mays and LaJuan Hunt should be able to generate some offense against this leaky Wyoming run-defense, which should alleviate pressure from Myers to do too much. Still, look for Myers to connect well with top receivers Hunter Sharp and Devonte Robinson. After a horrific Saturday, look for the Aggies offense to make up for that this week. Could Chuckie Keeton be returning? Injured in the third game, he is listed as questionable. Further struggles on offense could expedite his return.
For Utah State to potentially win their division, the defense is going to need to step up and avoid games like what happened last Saturday. It was a unit that had been performing very well, until giving up 48 points to a San Diego State offense that isnt as great as they were made to look. But at home against a team like Wyoming, look for some of that balance to return, with a defense that is pretty tough against both the pass and the run. And though they didnt have an opportunity to show it on Saturday, this is a defense that can be clutchperforming at its best when the game is on the line.
Again, Wyoming has been fairly resolute for a 1-7 team. They have covered 4 straight spreads, with three of them resembling this gamewith spreads in the 20s. But for those who are judging Utah State based on last weeks massacre might be missing the bus. This is in Logan, which is a tough place to play and a tough road spot for Wyoming that faces its 4th road game in 5 weeks. They might hit a wall this week. Im taking the Aggies.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Utah State Aggies minus 28 points.
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