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Utah State at San Jose State Preview

Three keys to the game and a prediction for Utah State at San Jose State

Fresno State v Utah State Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Location: San Jose, California (CEFCU Stadium)

Date/Time: Saturday, September 30th at 12:00 EST (10:00 Utah Time)

Television: CBS Sports Network

Radio: Aggie Sports Network

Streaming: You can stream the game here

Odds: San Jose State (-4); Over/Under: 64.5 Provided by DraftKings Sportsbook

Head-to-Head: Utah State and San Jose State are tied at 20-20 in the series and there has been one tie. Since joining the Mountain West San Jose State has not beaten Utah State. The Aggies have won 10 straight against San Jose State since 2009, including last years 35-31 win in Logan. In 2018 Utah State scored 62 points in a 62-24 win in Logan and the Aggies scored 61 points against the Spartans in 2017 in 1 61-10 win in San Jose.

Three keys to the game:

1. Utah State needs to get the run game going

San Jose State is giving up an average of 210.3 yards per game on the ground. Utah State is averaging just 172.3 rushing yards per game. The biggest game for Utah State in terms of rushing came against Colorado State, when junior running back Davon Booth rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Booth also had a long run of 48 yards, averaging 10.1 yards per carry. Utah State has not had a lot of success running the ball and the Spartans are coming off of a beat down of New Mexico.

This game is going to come down to Utah State controlling the line of offense and breaking off some larger runs.

2. Keep everything in front on defense

Chevan Cordeiro and the San Jose Spartans have the ability to make quick plays and the Spartans average 391.1 yards per game, 242.7 passing yards per game and 148.4 rushing yards per game. Chevan Cordeiro has experience and can be very accurate. Nick Nash leads the Spartans in receiving yards with 387 yards and has scored four touchdowns on the year, averaging 12.9 yards per catch. If Utah State is not careful in watching where Nash is then San Jose State will be able to easily get plays in front of the Aggies. The other key about keeping everything in front is to not let Kairee Robinson going for San Jose State. Robinson has rushed for 471 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season and letting Kairee Robinson get medium yardage could set the Spartans in a position to get ahead of Utah State and move the chains. San Jose State averages 391.1 yards per game and the number could quickly go up as Utah State allows 414.6 per game. Therefore the key on defense needs to be keep everything in front and maybe even force some turnovers.

3. Get those third-down conversions, drop the penalties and turnovers

Utah State was able to get 29 first downs against Fresno State, three more than the Bulldogs. Utah State averaged 568 total yards and had 363 yards passing and 205 rushing. The Aggies also went 3-4 (75%) on first down. Here’s the problem: Utah State struggled on third down, going 3-13 (23%), which has been a story throughout the season. The Aggies had two turnovers, which has also been a consistent statistic throughout the season. Utah State had 8 penalties for 74 yards, which affects how Utah State is able to execute the game plan that is put into place and results in a lower time of possession. Utah State can not get into the third down struggles and give the ball back to San Jose State. That is going to give the Spartans a chance to get on the field and wear down Utah State’s defense.

Overall thoughts

Utah State currently sits at 3-4 (1-2) on the season and has tough games against San Jose State, San Diego State, and Boise State. The Aggies should be able to get a win against Nevada, and they have a decent chance against New Mexico. This means the Aggies might be 5-7 (3-5), which would not make the Aggies bowl eligible. In order to become bowl-eligible, the Aggies must win one of the games against San Jose State, San Diego State, or Boise State, and their best chance could come against San Jose State.

The Aggie’s losses have been close in games against Fresno State (37-32) and James Maddison (45-38), but the key is that Utah State needs to find consistency and deliver in the final moments of close games.

The road game at San Jose State is an excellent opportunity for Utah State to turn things around if they can limit the turnovers and penalties and improve on third down. 8 days after losing with seconds remaining against Fresno State, Utah State has more consistency and is able to pull out a close one against the Spartans.

Prediction: Utah State: 35; San Jose State: 31