The Utah State Aggies were a play or two away from heading into Friday night with a perfect 4-0 record. They lost a nail biter to the Michigan State Spartans in Week 1, but have a clean sheet since that matchup in East Lansing. Their biggest challenge came last week against the Air Force Falcons. The defense had issues containing the triple-option of Air Force, but the end result worked out in their favor by a score of 42-32.
They go from defending the triple-option to playing a physical BYU team that will line up and just try to outmuscle the Aggies. They are contrasting offenses no doubt that. The Cougars enter with a record of 3-2 after a dreadful performance on the road against the Washington Huskies. Washington put BYU away early as they took a 21-0 lead into the break.
BYU were outgained severely by 270 yards. The offense had zero pop and no big play potential, which is going to be the undoing from keeping them in a top-tier bowl game. It seems a little silly considering BYU in a top-tier bowl game, but think about it, they came a field goal short of beating Cal, they already have a win over Wisconsin and Arizona, and went to Washington to play the Huskies. If they could have pulled out the game against Cal, even with the loss last week, they’d be in fine shape.
The win over Wisconsin will be remembered as their marquee victory. They went into Madison and stuck their foot far up the Badgers. BYU and Wisconsin are similar, physical schools and on that day, BYU beat the Badgers at their own game. Add a gamebreaker on the outside for Tanner Mangum and suddenly this would be a dangerous team. They’re still waiting for someone to step up in that regard, though. The Aggies will have a challenge against a BYU defense that has been rock solid in 2018. This will not be as simple as last week against Air Force. Jordan Love has nonetheless been playing well for Utah State at quarterback. Head below for our free Utah State vs. BYU pick for Friday night in college football.
Utah State Aggies vs. BYU Cougars NCAAF Betting Odds:
Utah State +2(-108)
vs. BYU -2(-112)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Utah State vs. BYU Pick:
BYU did not look like the same team we saw against Wisconsin last week in Washington. It was their worst effort of the season, as sportsbooks got to collect a lot of BYU tickets in that game. That very well could have been a lookahead spot for the Cougars who have a rivalry matchup against the Aggies this week. It isn’t much of a rivalry game to anyone outside of Utah, but the players know what is at stake here.
It is also worth noting that BYU were without two of their best defenders against the Huskies. Safety Dayan Ghanwoloku and linebacker Zayne Anderson are expected to be back in the lineup for the Cougars on Friday night. Their presence was missed immediately against Washington, and their presence against Utah State should be felt immediately. Both have NFL potential, so they are certainly impact players.
BYU’s main goal will be limiting the Utah State ground game. Jordan Love is not a good enough quarterback to win it all on his own. It’s imperative that Utah State establishes the run and then let Love see what there is downfield. Utah State are 55th in the nation with an average of 190.5 yards per game. BYU are allowing 152 yards per game for 59th in the country.
That doesn’t seem like all that impressive, but consider the teams they’ve played thus far. Arizona, Cal, Wisconsin, and Washington are all teams who can run effectively. I’d say BYU are definitely battle tested heading into this Friday night game and Utah State won’t show them anything they haven’t seen already. And with the defense healthier this week, they’ll likely give the Aggies issues. Note that Washington is the only team this year that has been able to score more than 23 points on the BYU defense. Overall, they’re allowing 20.6 points per game, the 35 points from Washington skewing the numbers up.
Senior Tyler Magnum must be better for the Cougars. He had his best year as a freshman after passing for 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Taysom Hill took the starting job from him, and then when he was the clear starter a year ago an injury took him out. His year was cut short after rupturing his Achilles against Fresno State in November last season. Magnum has thrown 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, as he leans on a quality running game featuring Squally Canada who has 375 all-purpose yards and 5 touchdowns. Lopini Katoa is a nice compliment to Canada, who has gained 241 yards with 3 touchdowns. Game manager gets thrown around too often, but that’s exactly what Magnum has been for the Cougars.
Look for BYU to come out early and impose their strength on Utah State. After falling flat against Washington, Kalani Sitake is likely going to have this team fired up to play a rival at home. The presence of Ghanwoloku and Anderson should be felt right away. It’s going to be tough for Utah State to go from the triple-option to BYU who just want to pound the ball down their throat. It should be a good game, but the Cougars should ultimately be able to secure a win and cover on Friday night.