Now that non-conference play is essentially over for the year, the Utah State Aggies are just about where everyone expected them to be. Granted, we all would have liked to win against USC, or at least have made it a game. Saturday’s game against Air Force will be a real test for both teams, and could easily affect who plays in the Mountain West Conference Championship game this Winter.
The atmosphere in Maverik Stadium is going to be electric, and after last year’s last-second loss that cost Utah State a trip to the MWC Championship game, I expect Utah State to come out looking poised and ready to win.
There is no doubt the game is going to be close. To win Utah State is going to have to stop the run, force turnovers and run the ball well. Air Force runs an option offense that normally fires on all cylinders, last week against Georgia State they put up 464 rushing yards, averaging almost 6 yards per carry. If the Aggies can stop the run winning will get a whole lot easier.
Utah State will also need to force turnovers, which won’t be hard as the Aggie defense has already forced five turnovers this year. Against Abilene Christian Air Force turned the ball over twice in what would be a 37-21 win. Even though Abilene Christian would go on to lose they managed to keep it somewhat close, even though Air Force nearly doubled Abilene Christian’s total yards.
Finally, Utah State needs to run the ball well to win. Air Force’s run defense is great, allowing an average of only 50 rushing yards a game so far this season.
This is a problem for Utah State, as they heavily rely on running game for offensive production. The Aggies need to get Devante Mays going, Air Force’s run defense has been great this year but Devante Mays will by far be the best back they’ve seen so far this year.
I predict a 31-24 victory for Utah State. You can tune into ESPNU at 8:15 MT to watch the game.