Location: San Diego, California (Snapdragon Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4th at 4:00 PM PST (5:00 PM Utah Time)
Radio: Aggie Sports Network
Streaming: You can stream the game here
Odds: Utah State (-2.5); Over/Under: 57 Provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Head-to-Head: Utah State is just 3-13 against San Diego State with the three wins coming on the road in 1967 (31-25) snd 2019 (23-17). Utah State also won a matchup a at San Diego State in 2021. As Mountain West opponents, San Diego State leads the series 3-2, so a win at San Diego State would give the Aggies a chance to tie the Mountain West part of the series with San Diego State. Utah State would lose the first Mountain West game played against San Diego State 48-14 and would also lose in 2016 40-13. Utah State would lose in 2020 by a score of 38-7 at home.
Three keys to the game:
1. Utah State needs to play a full game
Utah State has followed a theme this year of not performing well in the 1st quarter and that was once again the theme against San Jose State as the Aggies would give up 14 unanswered before scoring 14 points in the second quarter to tie the game at the half. San Jose State became out in the third quarter and once again held Utah State scoreless before Utah State would score their last touchdown in the 4th quarter. A full game requires consistency across the board on both offense and defense, which is something that the Aggies have struggled with all season.
2. Get after the quarterback
While San Diego State is not exactly a mastermind team on offense, one of the important ways that Utah State can win this game is by getting after the quarterback. Utah State has 15 total sacks on the season and the player with the most sacks is Paul Fitzgerald with four. Utah State ranks 108th among FBS teams in third down conversion percentage on defense, allowing teams to convert 44.6% of their first downs. Utah State is tied for 73rd in the nation with a turnover margin of -0.12, gaining 16 turnovers but giving up 17. Getting after the quarterback will allow Utah State to improve on both of these statistics and establish dominance against San Diego State.
3. Establish a run game and move forward with Cooper Legas
Utah State has rushed for a total of 1,310 yards this year and their top rusher is Davon Booth, who has rushed for 489 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Rahsul Faison has rushed for 370 yards and three touchdowns and Robert Briggs Jr. has rushed for 260 yards and one touchdown. That does it for the Utah State rushing access. In order to build consistency on offense Utah State must figure out how to run the ball more effectively. That has not happened yet but if the offensive line for Utah State can help the running backs by coming together and stepping up to create holes, then Utah State stands a far better chance of establishing a running game on the road, keeping their chances of reaching a bowl game alive. This would also help to build consistency in the passing game.
Utah State currently sits at 3-5 (1-3) on the season and has two challenging games against San Diego State and Boise State remaining. If Utah State loses both of those games they will not be bowl eligible. The Aggies should be able to get a win against Nevada, and they have a decent chance against New Mexico. The number one key to winning this game is going to be getting out to a fast start. Utah State has switched quarterbacks at different points this year either because of performance issues or because of injury. The key is to stick with one quarterback and let him build some consistency. That quarterback should be Cooper Legas as he is not only healthier after missing a little bit of time this season, but he is also just playing better football. Utah State needs his leadership and skillsets displayed on the field against San Diego State in order to create consistent drives that wear down the Aztecs.
San Diego State also sits at 3-5 (1-3) and is coming off a bye week after a very bad loss to Nevada. The Aztecs can afford to lose one more game for bowl eligibility but the challenge for the Aztecs will be to win the final four games. Both teams are going to come in motivated to win this one knowing how important it is. However, Utah State has had more success this season when they establish consistency and the Aggies find a way on offense to create a balance between the running and the passing game to create consistency.
Prediction: Utah State: 31; San Diego State: 24