College Football Odds, Picks, Preview for BYU vs. Utah State: Cougars Have Advantage Over Aggies’ Defense

College Football Odds, Picks, Preview for BYU vs. Utah State: Cougars Have Advantage Over Aggies’ Defense article feature image
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  • BYU travels to Utah State to face off against an Aggies team that has surprised this season thus far.
  • The No. 13 Cougars have defeated three Pac-12 teams this year, including No. 21 Utah and No. 19 Arizona State.
  • Darin Gardner previews this matchup and provides his best bet.

BYU vs. Utah State Odds

BYU Odds -8.5 (-120)
Utah State Odds +8.5 (+100)
Moneyline -365 / +280
Over/Under 65 (-115 / -105)
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV CBS Sports Network
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Despite losing the No. 2 overall pick at quarterback, one of the top offensive linemen in the nation, the team’s leading receiver and several key pieces on defense after 2020, BYU comes into this game sitting at 4-0 with three victories over Pac-12 teams.

The Cougars allowed less than 20 points in all three of those Pac-12 wins and won the matchups by an average of nine points per game.

The offense hasn’t been able to reach the ridiculous efficiency it had last season, but BYU has racked up some solid wins early on.

On the other side, Utah State is coming off a 27-3 loss to Boise State that was nowhere near as lopsided as the final score would suggest. Utah State came out on the lucky end of a victory in a shootout against Air Force the week prior, though, so its luck reversed in a hurry.

Utah State seems to have taken a step forward after a forgettable 2020 season, but BYU comes in with multiple quality wins under its belt already after four weeks.

Will the Cougars continue their undefeated season as they enter October, or will the Aggies get back into the win column after being handed their first loss last week?


BYU vs. Utah State Betting Preview

Friday, Oct. 1
9 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network

BYU Cougars

BYU Offense

Despite all the losses on this side of the ball, the Cougars’ offense has impressed after a month of play.

Jaren Hall had big shoes to fill at the quarterback position, but he’s been able to lead an efficient offense so far.

He’s gotten it done with his arms and legs, but the latter has arguably been the best part of his game so far. Hall’s 8.7 yards per carry ranks fifth among quarterbacks with at least 20 rushing attempts.

At receiver, the Cougars brought back two productive players in Neil Pau’u and Gunner Romney, plus added a talented transfer in Puka Nacua from Washington.

That trio has the passing offense sitting at 12th in expected points added per pass after four games.

The offensive line has arguably been the most impressive unit on the whole team, though. It’s PFF’s third-ranked pass-blocking unit in terms of grades and ranks 11th in pressure rate allowed.

The unit also hasn’t allowed a single sack since the Week 1 game versus Arizona.


BYU Defense

Although the offense has done a good job replacing a lot of production, the same can’t be said for the defense so far.

BYU hasn’t been great anywhere on the defensive side of the ball, with bottom-40 ranks in both Passing Success Rate and Rushing Success Rate.

The pass rush got off to a hot start — it got home four times against Arizona in the first game and three times in Week 2 against Utah — but the group has just one sack in its last two games combined.

In terms of pressure rate, BYU ranks 45th, which is probably the highlight of the defense so far.

Against USF last week, BYU entered halftime with a 22-point lead after allowing just six points. However, the Cougars definitely let their foot off the gas in the second half.

They allowed a touchdown on all three of USF’s second-half drives, including drives of 14 plays for 75 yards and 19 plays for 94 yards.

Against an aggressive Utah State offense, the Cougars will need a full-game effort from the defense in this one.

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Utah State Aggies

Utah State Offense

Utah State moved the ball better than its three points would suggest against Boise State, but it just could not stop shooting itself in the foot when it mattered.

The Aggies had the edge in yards per play in the game, but lost the turnover battle 3-1 and went just 0-for-4 on touchdowns in the red zone, coming away with three total points from those possessions.

Overall, Utah State will definitely need to improve in Success Rate because it’s been relying on explosive plays to move the ball early on.

The Aggies have been held below a 40% Success Rate in two straight games — even though it scored 49 in one of those contests — and currently ranks 67th overall in that department so far this season.

The Aggies got a new coach this year in Blake Anderson, who ran an aggressive passing scheme in his time at Arkansas State. So far, that scheme has continued in Utah after bringing quarterback Logan Bonner with him from Arkansas State.

The Aggies have a top-15 ranking in average depth of target this season. Receiver Deven Thompkins has been the beneficiary of this aggressiveness, as he ranks fourth in the nation in receiving yards.


Utah State Defense

The offense has definitely outpaced the defense, considering the latter ranks 110th in successful drive rate.

The defense actually wasn’t terrible against Boise State last week, but the same can’t be said for the unit’s performance the week prior. It had no answers for the Air Force triple-option offense, allowing 8.2 yards per play and 611 in total, including 182 passing yards on just 12 Air Force attempts.

As of now, there’s just not a lot to be excited about with this defense, so BYU’s offense should definitely have the advantage.


BYU vs. Utah State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how BYU and Utah State match up statistically:

BYU Offense vs. Utah State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 52 101
Line Yards 84 73
Pass Success 20 102
Pass Blocking** 5 102
Big Play 50 107
Havoc 95 65
Finishing Drives 38 82
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Utah State Offense vs. BYU Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 105 116
Line Yards 56 94
Pass Success 78 93
Pass Blocking** 54 84
Big Play 42 102
Havoc 26 60
Finishing Drives 94 49
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 58 17
PFF Coverage 50 110
Middle 8 27 80
SP+ Special Teams 108 60
Plays per Minute 84 2
Rush Rate 56.1% (59) 51.7% (83)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Based on how each unit has performed so far this season, BYU’s offense should have no trouble moving the ball here. The Cougars’ receivers look to have a significant edge over these Utah State cornerbacks and it’s tough to see the Aggies getting any sort of pressure against this offensive line.

I should add on that Hall — who missed last week’s game against USF — is expected to be a full go for this one.

Utah State’s offense doesn’t have much of a run game and the passing game isn’t doing a great job of consistently generating positive plays, although it has been able to hit some explosive shots through the air.

In this matchup, the key for BYU’s defense will be to do a decent job taking away that deep connection between Bonner and his receivers.

If the deep shots aren’t there, Utah State hasn’t proven that it can consistently move the ball methodically down the field.


BYU vs. Utah State Betting Pick

This number has bounced around between 7.5 and 9 all week and has currently settled at 8.5 across the board at this point.

In terms of projections, my number on this game is 13.6 in favor of the Cougars, which is one of my bigger discrepancies on the board this week.

I still have preseason projections playing a decent weight in my model because we’re still working with a small sample size of games, but BYU has still definitely played like the better team early on in 2021.

This Utah State defense is very vulnerable and the offense looks relatively one-dimensional at this point.

Pick: BYU -8.5

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