UConn vs. Utah State Betting Odds & Picks: Can Huskies Keep It Close?
M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UConn’s Langston Hardy.
- The UConn Huskies take on the Utah State Aggies in Week 0 college football action.
- The Huskies have been in the college football cellar for years and enter this game as big underdogs.
- However, BJ Cunningham sees betting value on UConn and explains why below.
UConn vs. Utah State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Utah State Odds|
-110o / -110u
UConn begins the Jim Mora era in Logan, Utah, as the Huskies take on Blake Anderson’s Utah State Aggies in Week 0.
It’s a new era, a fresh start for Connecticut under Mora, the former NFL and UCLA head coach. He inherits a team that has won only one game against an FBS opponent over the past four years — and that win came against UMass.
The bar is incredibly low, but with a lot of starters returning, plus a few transfers coming in, UConn may get out of the basement of college football.
Utah State has a lot of hype coming into the 2022 season, coming off a Mountain West title and an 11-3 season. The Aggies aren’t the favorites to win the conference title this season because of the sheer amount of starters they have to replace.
They also have a date with No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa next weekend, so this is the definition of “look-ahead spot” if I’ve ever seen one.
The Huskies have a new quarterback in Penn State transfer Ta’Quan Roberson, a four-star dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school. He should make UConn’s offense drastically better than it’s been in recent years.
He will have a stable rushing attack because UConn returns its top running back in Nathan Carter, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry.
Another constant theme throughout the spring is how impressive RB Nathan Carter has looked. Every observer who comes through Storrs has nothing but praise for the compact, versatile back. Should be the lead horse in the stable—check out the route here #BleedBlue @UConnSI pic.twitter.com/2m5xCAIUhZ
— Ric Serritella (@RicSerritella) April 7, 2022
It lost only one wide receiver from last year, so the Huskies will have some roster continuity for the first time in a while.
Say what you will and make all the jokes you want about the Huskies, but they ranked 23rd in college football in explosiveness and 12th in Havoc Allowed last season.
With Mora rebuilding the offensive line by getting an All-Ivy League lineman from Dartmouth and also adding transfers from Alabama, Michigan and UTEP, this unit could improve and allow Roberson time to conduct a competent offense.
The Huskies return eight starters, including their top six tacklers from last season. The interesting thing about UConn comes on the defensive line.
All freshmen started in 2018, and they allowed 7.7 yards per carry. In 2019, they lost one starter and improved to allow 5.9 yards per carry. In 2021, after a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everyone returned and allowed only 4.5 yards per carry.
Now, the Huskies lose star defensive tackle Travis Jones, but they’re switching to a 3-4 system under new defensive coordinator Kenny McClendon, who was the DC under Bo Pelini at Youngstown State the past two seasons.
They also added three transfers to help fill Jones’ role. But with the switch in system, the focus will be more on edge rushers and linebackers, which UConn has plenty of.
The Huskies have their top three linebackers back, including the leader of the defense in Jackson Mitchell, who recorded 120 tackles in 2021. They’ll move edge rusher Kevon Jones to the new “Razor” position in the 3-4, but the bottom line is UConn should be much improved up front.
Connecticut loses only one starter in the secondary, so it should improve on its ranking of 88th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 73rd in passing explosiveness allowed.
Anderson has his work cut out for him coming off a Mountain West title with all of the production he has to replace.
He does get starting quarterback Logan Bonner back, which is big because Bonner averaged 8.6 yards per attempt and posted a PFF passing grade of 81.4 in 2021.
The problem for Anderson and Bonner is the Aggies lose their top three pass-catchers in Deven Thompkins, Brandon Bowling, and Derek Wright. Those three combined for 206 catches, 3,328 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. Oh, and starting tight end Carson Terrell is also gone.
The Aggies featured a boom-or-bust passing offense a season ago, ranking 52nd in Passing Success Rate and eighth in explosiveness. So, with all of Bonner’s weapons gone, it’s hard to see how the Aggies don’t take a massive step back in the passing game.
The rushing attack was pretty much nonexistent a season ago, as the Aggies ranked outside the top 100 in Rushing Success Rate, Offensive Line Yards, Stuff Rate Allowed and Power Success Rate.
They do return four starters with a combined 102 starts across the line, but if they can’t find a stable rushing attack, this offense is going to regress.
Utah State lost four of its top five tacklers, including first-team All-Mountain West linebacker Justin Rice, and doesn’t have anyone to replace his production.
The Aggies ranked top-20 in Defensive Line Yards, Stuff Rate and Power Success Rate Allowed last season. Now, they’ve also lost their best two defensive linemen, so there’s going to be some regression for the front seven after losing that kind of production.
It’s also concerning when a team has a lot of new faces going up against a mobile quarterback like Roberson.
The secondary is where Utah State should improve this season. It brings back four starters from last season and adds Miami transfer Gurvan Hall at safety.
The Aggies finished 2021 ranked 97th in Passing Success Rate Allowed with 7.4 yards allowed per attempt. The secondary will improve on those numbers from last season, but this is just an average FBS secondary.
UConn vs. Utah State Betting Pick
With roster continuity, a four-star recruit transferring in at quarterback and all of its best skill position players back, UConn may just be on its way out of the college football cellar.
Say what you will about Mora, but he went 46-30 as UCLA’s head coach and brings a wealth of experience to help turn the Huskies around.
Meanwhile, Utah State lost a ton of production on both sides of the ball, which will make it difficult to repeat as Mountain West champions. In this game especially, I think the Aggies are a little overvalued.
Our Action Network projections make the Aggies 19.4-point favorites, and I also have the Aggies at just -19.5. I love the Huskies at +27 and would play it down to +24.5.
Pick: UConn +27 (Play to +24.5)
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