Location: East Hartford, Connecticut (Pratt & Whitney Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 30th at 12:00 EST (10:00 Utah Time)
Radio: Aggie Sports Network
Streaming: You can stream the game here
Odds: Utah State (- 4.5) Provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Head-to-Head: Utah State and UConn have met twice, and Utah State has won both meetings matchups in 2002 at Connecticut, 38-31, and at home in 2002, 31-20. Utah State has won by an average of 34.5 points and has scored 69 points in the two games.
Three things to look for:
1. Can Utah State avoid the slow start?
In back-to-back weeks Utah State has gotten off to a very slow start in the first quarter. In all three of Utah State's losses, the opponents have scored 14 points or more. Iowa put up 14, Air Force 22, and James Maddison 17. The offense has been unable to keep up in the first quarter, scoring only one touchdown in the first quarter that entire season. That is not a statistic that will help Utah State move forward, and Utah State needs to find playmakers on offense to make plays consistently. Utah State also needs to limit the chunk plays in the first quarter.
2. Can the Utah State defense improve on yards allowed?
In the past three games, Utah State has given up 424 yards to Idaho State, 428 yards to Air Force, and an extremely concerning 512 yards to James Maddison. This included letting James Maddison throw for 10.7 yards per completion and four touchdowns through the air. Not only that, but James Maddison also committed five turnovers and still managed to put up 45 points. James Maddison receiver Reggie Brown would also go for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 5 receptions. Utah State may have been blown out without the five turnovers. A bright spot for the Aggies is that they held James Maddison to 3-12 on first down, but the Aggies could hardly take advantage as they went 7-18 on third downs themselves.
3. Can Utah State continue to find balance on offense?
Utah State may have thrown for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns, not bad, but the Aggies rushed for just 98 yards, and McCae Hillstead threw three interceptions. The penalties really hurt Utah State as a team, too, going 9-80. Davon Booth rushed for 103 yards and had a long rush of 35 yards, but the Aggies could not find any other production in the ground game. Utah State needs to be able to find explosive plays on the ground so that it opens up opportunities in the passing game. This would also help in improving third-down conversions. Hillstead rushing for -26 yards doesn’t help. The receivers have also recently stepped up a little more as other than Terrell Vaughn, two other players went for over 60 yards and Vaughn and those two other receivers caught four touchdowns combined. Vaughn would once again go over 100 yards and caught two touchdowns.
Since the Air Force game Utah State has been completely exposed, especially on defense, and does not look very good. This team shows flashes of a good team, but the mistakes have been very costly. Penalties, turnovers, and failed third-down conversions have all contributed to the Aggies' struggles. Teams have had a lot of success doing what they want to do against Utah State. Air Force wanted to rush the ball and ran for a total of 344 yards. James Maddison was more balanced but still had 364 yards passing and 148 yards rushing.
Utah State needs a tune-up game heading into October. Badly. A game against a struggling UConn team that is 0-4 is the perfect opportunity. An early kickoff and traveling to the East Coast will not be an easy trip for a Utah State team trying to find answers, but it is a very much-needed one. heading into conference play on October 7th against Colorado State.
Score prediction: Utah State: 34; UConn: 24