Location: CEFCU Stadium – San Jose, CA
Date/Time: Saturday, November 13th @ 7:30 PM PDT
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1
Radio: KTRB (860 AM, San Francisco)
Head-to-head history: San Jose State (5-5, 3-3 MW) is 20-1-18 historically over Utah State (7-2, 4-1 MW). In the last two games of the Brent Brennan era against the Aggies, the Spartans are 0-2.
For fans and anyone remotely following the ups and downs of the Spartan football season, it’s been a season of uncharacteristic faults.
Mistakes have reared up at the most inopportune times and have led to the 5-5 season so far, where San Jose State should be easily far above .500.
With the goal now aimed at becoming bowl eligible, a pessimists’ view could also say, “Don’t fall below .500 at the end of the season.”
Knowing that clear wins over powerhouses San Diego State and Nevada were well within the Spartans’ grasp, Utah State should be more of the same high-powered football.
With the Aggies atop the Mountain division and on a four game winning streak, there’s absolutely no qualms inside Sparta that they can and should win.
More odds-makers seem to think and feel the same with San Jose State favored at least a field goal or more over Utah State.
Need it be said that SJS is probably far better than a .500 team?
What to expect from Utah State Saturday night
“I think overall by this time of year, teams are who they are and they’ll always try to throw a wrinkle in or a trick play or something to catch you off guard,” said Brennan on if teams are still trying to expand creatively with play-calling this late in the season. “But a big part of that is the confidence the players have with what you run, so you don’t want to suddenly put in a bunch of new stuff that they don’t have any game experience running and then go out on the field and execute at a high level. That’s really hard to do.”
So, the expectation from Utah State: we know enough of who you are to win and it will be all about who executes best.
A quick look at some key Aggie numbers reflects more of who they are and where they might have some vulnerabilities:
- 473.3 total offensive yards per game average (SJS’ defense allows 354.4 per game)
- 152 yards rushing average for the Aggies (SJS defense allows 132.2 yards per game)
- 425.3 total yards given up by Utah’s defense per game (SJS’ offense averages 360.8 per game)
- Utah State averages 7.2 penalties per game (exactly the same as the Spartans)
- Utah State allows 2.2 sacks average per game (SJS allows 1.6)
- Utah State offense giving up 6.56 TFLs per game
Obviously, the Spartans have their weaknesses. The big one being a –8 turnover margin (Aggies are +1).
What it comes down to for the Spartans sixth win
Utah State is not going to fool the Spartan defense and the number crunchers indicate that somewhat by knocking the Aggie offense down a couple notches; considering the Aggie offense is 13th in the nation:
- And considering the Aggies’ all-world and conference leading receiver Deven Thompkins who’s averaging eight receptions, 146 yards and almost a touchdown per game.
- And then considering San Jose State held the vaunted Nevada offense well below their once top-10 averages last week.
The Spartan defense looks primed and will rely on more secondary depth going into the last two games of the regular season with what looks like the absence of their top cornerback, Nehemiah Shelton. Shelton looked to experience a knee injury during his interception play last week.
On offense, a Kevin McGiven schemed offense with a two quarterback threat expects to be back in full force. Expect Nick Starkel to wing and sling and dashes of Nick Nash to keep things as off balance as possible for the Utah State defense.
“Our team responds well to both players,” said Brennan to the question if the offense adjusting to each QB is a challenge. “That’s been a cool thing and it’s been something Nick Nash has earned over the last month with his play. Obviously, he’s made plays in years’ past, but nothing like he’s had to do this year. I love the way our team responds to both players and I think that’s really, really healthy.”
The Spartan run game will also likely look to layer in more of their depth chart to augment Tyler Nevens, who ranks fourth in career rushing yards at San Jose State with 2,499 yards to date.
Also, from the wideout likes of Malikhi Miller to Andre Crump to Isiah Hamilton & Isaiah Holiness to Jermaine Braddock, the receiving corp looks crisp.
Expect the Spartan defense to remain who they’ve been all year and expect a confident Nick Starkel to let loose. If the Spartan offense can return the favor from its defense, we should see the entirety of San Jose’s full potential sustaining itself against prime competition through the end of November.