Utah State has been a pleasant surprise so far this season, taking down Washington State in Pullman and defeating North Dakota at home. However, the road doesn’t get an easier with a difficult trip to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force. The offense has been explosive at points and the defense has been able to stand their ground, but the true test of this teams strength will start against the Falcons.
Utah State at Air Force
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Line: Air Force (-9.5)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 18th; 7:30 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports 2
Head-to-Head: Utah State is 3-6 against Air Force all time. The last Aggies win came in 2018, where Utah State picked up a 42-32 victory. Utah State is now on a two game losing streak to Air Force but will be looking to break that streak on Saturday.
Three Things to Watch Out For:
1. Can Utah State get off to a fast start?
One of the things that won't work so well agaisnt Air Force in Colorado Springs is playing Air Force close late. There is a certain amount of energy that Air Force brings at home but if Utah State can get off to a fast start, they can force Air Force into more passing situations. The big thing is that Utah State must be consistent on both sides of the ball in order to pull away.
2. How does the defense handle the triple option?
Yes, Utah State has faced Air Force every year since the divisions were introduced in 2013, but that doesn't mean it's any easier to defend the triple option. The key to defending the triple option is getting pressure up front and tackling. Utah State's defense has done well at creating more chances for the offense, however they need to continue to improve going forward, especially agaisnt Air Force, Boise State, and BYU. Utah State has done a much better job than the past two seasons so far, but there is a long ways to go and the road isn't going to get any easier. If Utah State can contain the triple option early, they'll be able to pull away.
3. Who is Boise State’s biggest competition in the Mountain Division?
This game is going to be significant when considering the answer to this question. The Mountain Division usually comes down to Boise State, Utah State, and Air Force. If the winner of this game manages to take down Boise State, the path to the Mountain West championship becomes a lot more clear. This game comes first though. Utah State must find a way to defeat Air Force while staying healthy.
Utah State has not been very good at winning big must win games like this one. If Utah State beats Air Force and Boise State in back to back weeks, the Aggies are legit. If Utah State loses the games to Air Force and Boise State, then the 2-0 start seems less meaningful. Yes Washington State was a tough opponent to beat on the road, but playing in Colorado Springs where Air Force is a formidable force might be even harder.
This is a big game and big game means there needs to be big plays. Utah State has showed that they are capable of doing this in the first two games and their defense might be able to keep Air Force in check just long enough for Utah State to create enough of a lead to get a victory in Colorado Springs.
Prediction: Utah State: 31; Air Force: 24