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Utah State Perspective: San Diego State at Utah State Preview

Three things to look for and a score prediction for Aztecs vs Aggies

NCAA Football: Utah State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

12Last Saturday was well... not a good start for Utah State. They were dominated in a 42-13 loss at Boise State and had less than 100 passing yards. This week doesn’t get any easier as the Aggies host a San Diego State team that has just as good as a defense as Boise State.

San Diego State at Utah State

Location: Logan, Utah (Maverick Stadium)

Line: San Diego State (-7.5)

Date/Time: Saturday, October 31st; 9:30 EST

Television: CBS Sports Network

Head-to-Head: San Diego State leads the series 12-2. The Aggies first win against the Aztecs came in 1967 in San Diego, 31-25. The longest losing streak in the series is 10 games, a streak that extended into Mountain West play and was broken las year with a 23-17 road win for the Aggies. In the series, Utah State has played San Diego State four times at home and has never beaten the Aztecs in Logan, something that Utah State will attempt to accomplish on Saturday. The series has clearly been largely dominated by the Aztecs and it is a tough matchup for Utah State, trying to get their footing after a blowout in Boise.

Three Things to Watch Out For:

1. How does the Utah State offensive line respond?

One of the stronger points for this Utah State team was supposed to be the offensive line. Against a Boise State team that lost quite a lot of production on the defensive line, the Aggies gave up three sacks and left Jason Shelley scrambling all night long. There was also no holes for Jaylen Warren to run through. Against a strong San Diego State defense the offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting Shelley and making more running room for Jaylen Warren. If the Utah State offensive line can hold their own against San Diego State’s defensive front, the Aggies should be able to execute better offensively.

2. What can the Utah State receivers do to help Jason Shelley?

Last season despite having Jordan Love on offense, the Aggies were very inefficient. One of the reasons was because receivers were not able to get off coverage and there was a number of different dropped passes. This is going to be important against a an experienced San Diego State secondary. Last weekend against the Broncos, the receivers showed that they still struggle to get off defenders. There wasn’t many drops for the Aggies which was a good sign, however there was a number of passes that were knocked away from Aggies receivers.

The receivers will need to fight for the ball more if they want a shot at making big plays against San Diego State. This is the way the Aggies will have an opportunity to beat the Aztecs after all, not through short runs and slant passes, but through big plays down the field. San Diego State is a much more defensive team than offensive, so the battle for field position is going to be very important in this game.

3. Can the Utah State defense play smarter, tackle, and get more pressure on the quarterback?

The Utah State defense struggled mightily in the tackling department in the game against Boise State. Two touchdowns were scored because of missed tackles and another 52 yard touchdown was a result of a blown coverage and Hank Bachmeier having a lot of time to find his man and throw. The Aggies have to play smarter defense against San Diego State. The Aztecs have always liked to run the ball so tackling the running backs will be key for the Aggies defense. More pressure needs to be dialed up on Carson Baker and force the young quarterback into mistakes. T

he Aggies have the players in the backfield to capitalize off of mistakes and one of the ways that Utah State can get more pressure is by giving San Diego State different looks and trying to confuse the offensive line. Utah State gave up 25 first downs and gave up 450 yards of total offense, which included George Holani getting 100 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries and Hank Bachmeier completing 20 of 28 passes. The Aztecs will likely try to play keep away from the Utah State offense and if the Aggies have trouble stopping the short third downs like they did against Boise State, this could turn into another long night for the Aggies.

Prediction

Last week I predicted that the Aggies would keep it close against Boise State and then the Broncos would pull away in the second half. The Aggies were able to keep it close... for the first quarter. One of the problems for Utah State last week was that their offense had very short drives and their defense at points was very winded. The game against San Diego State figures to be a little lower scoring but if the Aggies can’t stay on the field on offense and can’t get off the field on defense, San Diego State could build a quick lead that will be hard to match with a really good defense.

Last year the Aggies walked out of San Diego with a 23-17 win. Not this year. Utah State has a lot of problems to work out and to solve those problems in a week with another stiff challenge on the horizon, it just doesn’t look good for the Aggies. San Diego State put up 20 points in the second quarter against UNLV. Utah State didn’t score until the third. The score may not reach 42-13 like it did in Boise, but the Aztecs will do enough damage through the running game to pull away in the second half. San Diego State looked good against UNLV and their defense is just too good for the Aggies right now.

San Diego State 34, Utah State 17