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Utah State vs. Wyoming game preview: Keys to a Utah State victory

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What does Utah State need to do get back on track and defeat Wyoming?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

"Expect the unexpected" has been the mantra of the Mountain West this year. Two weeks ago, Utah State was on top of the world after a 52-26 exorcising win over a Boise State team that has dominated the matchup for years. The Aggies followed that up by getting pummeled on the road by San Diego State in an even more lopsided 48-14 loss.

Wyoming had low preseason expectations, but the results have been worse than anticipated. The week 1 loss to an FCS program in North Dakota (2-3, Big Sky) was the first setback in a season that began with six straight losses. Then, they unexpectedly beat a Nevada team that was thought to be decent.

If things go according to script, the Aggies should win comfortably, but this year in the Mountain West, nothing is guaranteed. If Utah State wants to earn the W, they'll have to improve on last week's train wreck in multiple ways.

King of the Hill:

Sophomore running back Brian Hill has been an absolute monster for Wyoming. He averaged 100 yds per game through September before going Super Saiyan during a 600 yard (and counting) October. He's hit the 150 yard mark in two of his last four games, running through defenses like a Spartan plowing through hundreds of CGI Persians.

This is bad news for an Aggie defense that just gave up 336 yards on the ground to San Diego State. After only giving up 90.8 rushing ypg through the first six games, last week's struggles were an outlier. However, injuries have changed the faces along the D line and there are some questions to be answered this weekend. Stopping Brian Hill should be an adequate test.

Looking Sharp:



The graph above shows how concentrated the passing game has become since Kent Myers took over. Only in the blowout vs Fresno has he connected with multiple receivers more than twice. The low point was this past game where Hunter Sharp was the only receiver with more than one reception.Myers does several things extremely well. He is obviously an asset in the run game, he is incredibly efficient, and he throws well on the move.

San Diego State kept him from getting to the edge, closed down running lanes, and made him beat them from the pocket. They took away his strengths (which is what good defenses do) and the results speak for themselves (8-19, 2 turnovers).

This is more something to watch than a key to victory, but in order to take the next step, Myers needs to be able to read defenses from the pocket and consistently hit his second or third option. Good teams are going to punish the "find Hunter Sharp" tunnel vision, and we saw what that means for the offense in San Diego. Let's see if he can make progress against Wyoming.

Mays Runner:

I expect a heavy dose of Devante Mays this week. I hope I'm not disappointed. Wyoming currently sits at 106th in rush defense, giving up over 200 yards per contest. If given the touches, Mays should have a field day.

After a sustaining a light injury early on, the Juco transfer has really been hitting his stride and doing things like this:

He has the vision and patience to find the hole, the acceleration to hit it, and the size to break through arm tackles. Run No. 2 in that video shows his patience. Watch how he slows down, then cuts back when he sees the lane. This is exactly what is needed in a zone scheme, and Mays seems to be a great fit.

On the season Mays has averaged 6.7 yards per carry and run for 5 touchdowns. Over the past few games he has wrested the majority of carries away from Lajuan Hunt, and that is a trend that should continue. This weekend is an opportunity to prove that he can keep up his productivity as the feature back.

Prediction:

The game shouldn't get too scary for the Aggies on the day before Halloween. Offensively, the Aggie ground game should run all over a below average defense, which in turn will provide Myers with the play action opportunities he thrives on. On the other side of the ball, Brian Hill will make plays, but a refocused Utah State team playing at home should limit the Wyoming attack and force some turnovers. Final score 35-17.