Utah State vs. Washington State Odds, Line: 2021 College Football Picks, Week 1 Predictions (Saturday, Sept. 4)

Utah State vs. Washington State Odds, Line: 2021 College Football Picks, Week 1 Predictions (Saturday, Sept. 4) article feature image
Credit:

Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Borghi.

  • The Utah State Aggies are set to take on Nick Rolovich's Washington State squad in Saturday night college football action.
  • Neither team has shown the ability to tackle or defend the pass, setting up a high-scoring matchup.
  • Check out Kyle Remillard's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.

Week 1 College Football Odds

Utah State vs. Washington State

Saturday, Sept. 4
11 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network

Utah State Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
+17
-110
67
-110o / -110u
+600

Washington State Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
-17
-110
67
-110o / -110u
-900
Odds via DraftKings. Last updated: Thursday

Washington State opens the season taking on a completely rebuilt Utah State roster in Week 1.

Utah State nearly hit rock bottom last season when it finished 1-5 and lost its head coach midway through the season. The Aggies bring in Blake Anderson after success at Arkansas State, and he is bringing an entirely new roster with him including his old quarterback, wide receiver and eight Power Five transfers.

They match up against a Washington State team that underperformed in Nick Rolovich’s first year. After COVID-19 canceled nearly half of its games last year, the offense struggled to get into a rhythm, and the defense was atrocious.

Two of the worst defenses in 2020 match up to open the new season in 2021.


Utah State Aggies

Utah State finished 1-5 last season and owned statistically one of the worst offenses and defenses in the country. It was outscored by an average margin of 19.7 points and was rarely competitive.

Blake Anderson and the coaching staff hope to turn all this around. He brings a slew of new faces to the program, including former UCF offensive coordinator Anthony Tucker and previous Miami Hurricanes safeties coach Ephraim Banda as defensive coordinator.

The question that remains to be seen is how long the learning process will take for this young coaching staff to begin to turn this program around.


Aggies Offense

Utah State’s offense ranked 124th in the country, averaging just 15.5 points per game last season.  It struggled to move the ball through the air where it averaged a measly 4.79 yards per attempt.

The rushing attack wasn’t much better where the Aggies averaged 4.4 yards per carry.  With no solution to moving the ball downfield, Utah State found the red zone just eight times all year.

The Aggies ranked 110th in offensive yards per play and 117th in Touchdown Rate.

For Aggies fans, the signing of Blake Anderson is a beacon of hope. He’s an offensive-minded coach who helped install an offense that broke a dozen records at Arkansas State.

Anderson brings over his former quarterback in Logan Bonner, who had a successful career at Arkansas State where he threw for 28 touchdowns and 2,900 yards in the last two seasons. It’s unclear if Bonner will beat out the returning starter in Andrew Peasley, as they both were listed as the co-starter on the Week 1 depth chart.

The Aggies return their entire offensive line, including 320-pound super senior center Demytrick Ali’ifua. There is solid depth with the running backs, and the offense returns its top six pass-catchers.


Aggies Defense

New defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda has his work cut out for him as he takes over a team that allowed 485 yards and 35.2 points per game.

The defense ranked 124th in defensive drive efficiency and 117th in defensive points per drive.

Anderson recruited the leading tackler from his Arkansas State team in linebacker Justin Rice who should have a positive impact on this defense. He joins a unit that returns its top nine tacklers from last season. That group ranked 119th in defensive touchdown rate.

The defense may improve throughout the season, but we most likely won’t see it here in Week 1.

The Aggies allowed 741 rushing yards to San Diego State and Air Force last season. They allowed 883 passing yards to Nevada and Fresno State. Those woes will carry over into Week 1 against the run-and-shoot offense of Wazzu.

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Washington State Cougars

It was a frustrating season for head coach Nick Rolovich in his first season at Washington State, as they had three of the seven games canceled due to COVID.

Wazzu finished 1-3 in the shortened schedule, losing all three games by two touchdowns or more. One of those losses came at Utah when the Cougars led 28-7 at halftime but allowed 38 unanswered points in the second half.

There is a lot of room for improvement with this team, but specifically with the defense that ranked among the bottom of the country in multiple defensive categories.


Cougars Offense

The offense was mediocre in the four games last season averaging just 27 points per game.

Freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura made a lot of mistakes with the run-and-shoot offense that Rolovich was installing last season. Now he has a full offseason to create chemistry with the receivers and the offensive scheme. But it’s no guarantee that he will be named the starter, as he shared the QB-1 spot on the depth chart with Tennessee grad transfer Jarrett Guarantano.

Rolovich seems committed to keeping the starter under wraps until kickoff on Saturday.

They return their top two pass-catchers who brought in 62 of the team’s 94 receptions last year. Wazzou returns the two-headed monster in the backfield in Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh. The duo combined for 443 and four touchdowns in their four games last year.

The offense averaged 6.1 yards per play, good for 45th in the country. They scored an average of 2.2 offensive points per drive which had them ranked 61st.

All signs point to a rebound for this offense, and we should be in store for offensive fireworks that we’ve come to expect from Washington State of the past.


Cougars Defense

The Cougars defense had all-conference players at each level, yet struggled all last season. They ran into many COVID-19 and injury interruptions, which often had them searching deep down the depth chart.

That’s no excuse for how bad this defense was last season which allowed 462 yards and 39 points a game. The pass defense let up 8.1 yards per pass attempts and 11 passing touchdowns in their four games.

The advanced statistics were horrid for Wazzou who ranked 116th in defensive drive efficiency. They allowed nearly the same points per drive as Utah State at 3.27 which had them ranked 118th in the country.

It’s a veteran-laden defense that returns 10 starters, but whether they will show any improvement or revert to 2020 numbers remains to be seen.


Utah State vs. Washington State Matchup Analysis

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

Utah State Offense vs. Washington State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rushing Success 103 103
Passing Success 124 108
Havoc 57 49
Line Yards 45 101
Sack Rate 101 114
Finishing Drives 116 119

Washington State Offense vs. Utah State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rushing Success 33 106
Passing Success 24 120
Havoc 73 103
Line Yards 52 125
Sack Rate 34 32
Finishing Drives 34 90

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 89 120
Coverage 119 108
Rush Rate 53.% (75) 42.% (121)
Seconds per Play 65 112

Data via College Football Data (CFBD) and FootballOutsiders; SP+ projection per ESPN.


Utah State vs. Washington State Betting Pick

This game is anticipated to be a high-scoring affair that spotlights two of the worst defenses in the country.

Wazzou’s defense ranked outside in the top 100 in Rushing Success, Passing Success, Sack Rate, and Finishing Drives. The addition of a new offensive system should pay dividends immediately for Utah State.

The Aggies defense last season was just as bad. They also rank outside the top 100 in nearly every advanced statistic that you can find. Washington State’s offense is going to be able to find success both on the ground and through the air.

Both of these teams allowed more than a field goal per drive last season. With neither team showing the ability to tackle or defend the pass, the stage is set for a shootout at Pullman in Week 1.

Pick: Over 67

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