clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pre -Fall Camp Predictions Utah State: ESPN FPI

Predicting Utah Sate’s record with help from ESPN’s FPI

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl - Memphis v Utah State Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Early in the summer months ESPN released their annual Football Power Index, which predicts the probability of teams to win games. Out of 133 teams, Utah State ranks 113th in the nation with a 4% chance to win the Mountain West. The Aggies are also projected to reach 5-6 wins with a 42.8% chance to get six wins. How accurate is the model early on? Let’s take a look.

Game 1: at Iowa

Game time/TV: 9:00 A.M. PST; FS1

Date: Saturday, September 2nd

Win probability: 7.2%

Last season Iowa finished 8-5 (5-4) and they bring back nine players on offense and seven on defense. Cade McNamara joins the Hawkeyes this year from Michigan and the defense once again looks to be elite under tenured head coach Kirk Ferentz. Sophomore running back Kaleb Johnson also returns after rushing for 817 yards and six touchdowns last season and junior tight end Luke Lachey, who had 398 yards receiving and four touchdowns last season also returns. Expect Iowa to show up strong defensively as Utah State attempts to find answers on offense.

Game 2: vs Idaho State

Game time/TV: TBD

Date: Saturday, September 9th

Win probability: 92.7%

This will be a much easier game for Utah State. The Aggies should be able to work on any issues found in week one and should be able to get the run game going to go 1-1.

Game 3: at Air Force

Game time/TV: 5:00 P.M. PST; CBSSN

Date: Friday, September 15th

Win probability: 27.3%

Playing Air Force is never an easy thing to do, especially when the game is taking place in Colorado Springs. The Falcons run the triple option very effectively and that isn’t going to change this year. Air Force went 10-3 (5-3) last year and brings back five offensive starters and eight defensive. While the Falcons lose Brad Roberts and Haaziq Daniels, the leading rushers for the team, they do have young talent and a veteran defense. I do think that 27.3% is a little low, in reality that number should hover closer to 40%. However, Air Force still has a good chance to win this one in Colorado Springs.

Game 4: vs James Madison

Game time/TV: TBD

Date: Saturday, September 23rd

Win probability: 52.7%

Last season James Madison went 8-3 (6-2) and returns six offensive starters and seven defensive this season. The Dukes lose running Percy Agyei-Obese and quarterback Todd Centeio but have played consistent over the years. 52.7% seems a little low at home for the Aggies and could likely be due to the Aggies struggling last season. This number could move into the 60s and should turn into a win for Utah State.

Game 5: at UConn

Game time/TV: 9:00 A.M.; CBSSN

Date: Saturday, September 30th

Win probability: 40.8%

Last season Utah State was surprisingly upset at home in a 31-20 game where the Aggies were favored by 26. The Huskies would go 6-7 and this season return nine offensive starters and eight defensive starters and returns a very experienced offensive line and the Huskies have a quarterback that understands the system. The defensive line for UConn is also a strong unit that will help the Huskies this season. Hovering around the 40% mark this should be a close game and if Utah State can avoid mistakes and early season injuries, they stand a good chance of winning this game.

Game 6: at Colorado State

Game time/TV: TBD

Date: Saturday, October 7th

Win probability: 64.5%

Last season Colorado State lost to Utah State at home 17-13 as a 12 point underdog and the Rams would finish the season 3-9. This season the Rams return seven offensive starters and eight defensive starters. Colorado State returns sophomore quarterback Clay Millen, who passed for 1910 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and rushed for 332 yards. Junior running back Avery Morrow also returns after rushing for 866 yards and four touchdowns last season as does sophomore receiver Justus Ross-Simmons (424 yards receiving, three touchdowns). The key player for Colorado State though is Tory Horton, who had 1131 receiving yards last season and scored eight touchdowns. Utah State needs to be very careful especially with the development of Millen and the return of Horton. At home 64% ad potentially a close win seem plausible, however if this game was on the road it might be a different story.

Game 7: vs Fresno State

Game time/TV: 5:00 P.M. PST; CBSSN

Date: Friday, October 13th

Win probability: 37.1%

Fresno State, winners of the Mountain West at 10-4 (7-1) and Los Angeles bowl last season, returns four offensive players and seven defensive. The Bulldogs lose their top three contributors on offense in quarterback Jake Haener (2896 passing yards, 20 touchdowns), running back Jordan Mimms (1400 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns), and receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper (1086 receiving yards, five touchdowns). They do bring back running back Malik Sherrod and receiver Erick Brooks on offense. Jeff Tedford is known for defensive success and that should be an area of strength for Fresno State, bringing back seven starters as well as bringing back two of the top cornerbacks in the conference. ESPN’s FPI gives Utah State a 37.1% chance to win this game and that number could move into the 40 range as the season progresses. It is reasonable to think that Utah State will struggle against the Fresno State’s stiff defense though.

Game 8: at San Jose State

Game time/TV: 4:00 P.M. PST; CBSSN

Date: Saturday, October 21st

Win probability: 34.4%

Last season San Jose State lost a November game on the road to the Aggies in a 35-31 game and the Spartans were a one point favorite. San Jose State would finish last season 7-5 (5-3) and a loss to Eastern Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl. San Jose State brings back a high nine starters on offense and five starters on defense. Returning impact starters for the Spartans include running back Kairee Robinson (787 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns), quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (3251 passing yards, 23 touchdowns), Justin Lockhart (578 receiving yards, one touchdown). The Spartans lose the bulk of their defensive line, so the Aggies attempt to run the ball against San Jose State with new faces on the defensive line. 34.4% seems low and the Aggies, if they can cover an experienced receivers group, should have a pretty good chance of keeping this game close.

Game 9: at San Diego State

Game time/TV: TBD

Date: Saturday, November 4th

Win probability: 27.8%

San Diego State struggled last season in Mountain West play, finishing the season at 7-6 (5-3) and lost in their bowl game to Middle Tennessee. San Diego State brings back six starters on both offense and defense this season, including quarterback Jalen Mayden (2030 passing yards, 12 touchdowns), running back Kenan Christon (316 yards rushing, one touchdown), left end Garett Fountain (41 tackles, three tackles for loss, three sacks), and linebacker Cooper McDonald (41 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks). There is not a ton of production coming back in the receivers group, but the 27.8% chance to win this game for Utah State is likely due to the fact the San Diego State is always strong defensively. This number could like get into the 30s percent range but it will be difficult for the Aggies to come out of San Diego with a win.

Game 10: vs Nevada

Game time/TV: TBD

Date: Saturday, November 11th

Win probability: 61.4%

Last season Nevada went 2-10 and went 0-8 in the Mountain West, so there is obviously plenty of room for improvement. The Wolfpack bring back 14 total starters, six on offense and eight on defense. On offense, junior receiver Dalevon Campbell (467 yards receiving, one touchdown), and senior receiver Jamal Bell (271 yard receiving). Middle linebacker Drue Watts, a freshman last season, made 57 tackles and six tackles for loss and also made three sacks as a freshman. Junior Naki Mateialona also returns this season after making 53 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks last season. Nevada also brings in one of the stronger transfer classes in the Mountain West this year which should boost the Wolfpack overall. Nevada does have a work to do after a dismal season last year so a 61% chance for Utah State to win that game seems about right.

Game 11: vs Boise State

Game time/TV: 4:00 P.M. PST.; CBSSN

Date: Saturday, November 18th

Win probability: 25.5%

The Broncos beat the Aggies last year 42-23 but the game was surprisingly close up until the final moments. Boise State finished last season 10-4 (8-0) with the only Mountain West loss coming in the championship game to Fresno State. The Broncos made a remarkable turn around after an ugly loss to UTEP left the Broncos at 2-2 and without their starting quarterback and offensive coordinator. Boise State returns 14 total players including nine offensive starters. Sophomore quarterback Taylen Green (644 yards rushing 10 touchdowns; 2042 yards passing 14 touchdowns), senior running back George Holani (1190 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns), and Ashton Jeanty (845 yards rushing, seven touchdowns). The run game will certainly be a strength but a major strength for the Broncos will be the skill position at receiver. Junior Latrell Caples (549 yard receiving, four touchdowns), sophomore Eric McAlister (259 yards receiving, four touchdowns), senior Stefan Cobbs (396 yards receiving, two touchdowns), and senior tight end Riley Smith (214 yards receiving, one touchdown). Markel Reed, DJ Schram, Demetri Washington, and Herbert Gums return to the Boise State defense among other important contributors. A 25.5% chance to win this game is reflective of how talented the offense is going to be for Boise State and how their defense is going to rebuild and improve throughout the season.

Game 12: at New Mexico

Game time/TV: TBD

Date: Friday, November 24th

Win probability: 55%

New Mexico lost at Utah State last year 27-10 and like Nevada, the Lobos also went 2-10 and didn’t have a win in conference play (0-8). New Mexico returns just two starers on defense but returns eight on offense and add transfer quarterback Dylan Hopkins from UAB and return receiver Luke Wysong (214 yards receiving, one touchdown), and running back Christian Washington who rushed for 326 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry as a freshman. New Mexico is led by head coach Rocky Long, who is a veteran at building tough defenses and that is what should make this a hard fought but close win for the Aggies.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, based on ESPNs FPI, Utah State is going to win five games after going 6-7 last season. Utah State returns nine total players, four on offense and five on defense, including junior quarterback Cooper Legas (1449 passing yards, 11 touchdowns), sophomore running back Robert Briggs (368 yards rushing, one touchdown), and senior receiver Terrrell Vaughn (624 yards receiving, five touchdowns). On defense, the Aggies return senior defensive tackle Hale Motu’Apuaka (35 tackles, three tackles for loss, five sacks), senior linebacker MJ Tafisi (69 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one sack), senior cornerback Michael Anyanwu (47 tackles, two tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups), and sophomore full safety Ike Larsen (33 tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups, and four interceptions).

There’s a good opportunity that Utah State pulls off an important win against UConn to close out September 3-2. There is also a fair chance that the Aggies pull off a victory that they really aren’t expected to win, which I am going to predict as at San Jose State to get to seven wins in the regular season. There is also a chance that Utah State wins against either Air Force on the road or shocks Fresno State at home.