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Utah State vs. UNLV game preview: How will the Aggies fare with Craig Harrison under center

With the Aggies coming in as 18-point favorites, they will rely on Craig Harrison to lead the team on offense. Can UNLV possibly take advantage?

Harrison in at QB during the MW Title game, December 7, 2013
Harrison in at QB during the MW Title game, December 7, 2013
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9: Utah State Aggies vs. UNLV Rebels

When: Saturday, October 25, 2:00 PM (MT)

Where: Romney Stadium, Logan, UT (25,513)

Conference: Mountain West (Mountain Division vs. West Division)

2014 Season: Utah State, 4-3, 1-1 MW; UNLV, 2-5, 1-2 MW

Coaches: Utah State head coach Matt Wells (11-8); UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck (15-43)


Radio: Utah State Radio Network: KVNU (610 AM) in Cache Valley Area; UNLV Radio Network: ESPN 1100 AM and 98.9 FM in the Las Vegas area

Series Record: Utah State leads, 14-7

Last Meeting: 2013, in Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV; Utah State 28, UNLV 24

What to Expect: After coming off a heartbreaking finish in Fort Collins last Saturday, USU returns to home to face off against UNLV, who is coming off a win against Fresno State. The Aggies will be without quarterback Darell Garretson, who went down in the third quarter against CSU with an undisclosed wrist injury. It is not determined how much time he will miss, but coach Matt Wells announced at his press conference that senior Craig Harrison will get the start at quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Harrison has seen some action during his career at USU, albeit slim. Harrison transferred after his freshman year from Snow College to play with the Aggies. He saw his first taste of action when then junior Chuckie Keeton was lost to a season ending knee injury. Harrison's stats have been average for what little time he has seen, including 1 TD and 2 interceptions. With a chance to have a full week of practice and learning the offense, it will be interesting to see how Harrison performs this Saturday.

However, expect the Utah State running game to see a majority of the snaps. The team has had difficulty running the football this season, but with a UNLV team giving up nearly 138 rushing yards per game, this may just be the opportunity for the Aggies to get something going in the running game. Also watch out for this pass run combo, because if the running game can get going and Harrison starts to throw accurately, especially on play action, it is going to be a long day for the Rebel defense.

On defense, the Aggies should be solid again. Even though they did not win in Fort Collins, the defense was able to disrupt Garrett Grayson, sacking him eight times and holding the Rams to just 16 points. Expect the same kind of effort this weekend, especially the run defense. UNLV is the only team in the country to not lose a fumble while running the football, but with the way the Aggies are aggressive on defense, lookout for some turnovers.

The Bottom Line: Las Vegas currently has the Aggies at 17.5-point favorites at last check. Expect the Rebels to cover, but no closer than 13 points. It may be close early, but if the Rebels falter and Harrison can get going, the Aggies may run away with this one. I expect them to win this one at home and stay in the chase for the Mountain West Title.