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College Football Odds & Picks For Utah State at Nevada: Back the Wolf Pack On Thursday

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images: Pictured: Linebacker Trevor Price #45 and defensive end Daniel Grzesiak #44.

Utah State at Nevada Odds

Utah State Odds +16.5 [BET NOW]
Nevada Odds -16.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +525/-770 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 56.5 [BET NOW]
Time Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM, where Action Network users can get a $500 deposit match.

The Utah State Aggies (0-2) hit the road this week for a Thursday night matchup against the Nevada Wolf Pack (2-0) in Reno.

The Wolf Pack are off to a hot start, coming into Thursday night’s game undefeated behind the strength and precision of QB Carson Strong’s arm. The Aggies enter the contest winless after facing two of the best Mountain West teams in Boise State and San Diego State and didn’t cover in either.

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Utah State Aggies

The Aggies are coming into the game desperate for a win to avoid an 0-3 start. In order to win, the offense will need to find its footing and put up points to hang with the Nevada offense.

USU QB Jason Shelley is completing 56% of his passes and has thrown for just 180 yards this season. The ground game has been productive but hasn’t shown signs of being enough to ride to victory. The Aggies rank second-to-last (102 of 103) in FBS total offense with an average 209 yards per game and just 3.32 yards per play.

The Aggies have an offensive Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play of -0.06 — yes, higher is better — which is last in the Mountain West and well below the conference average of 0.18.

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Mitigating some of the discouraging statistics is the fact the Aggies have had two tough conference matchups to start. For the Aggies to stay in this game, they are going to have to significantly improve both the running and passing game. They will need to score. So, it’s hard to see the Aggies covering this one without much better QB play.

Utah State may face an even taller order defensively. The Aggies are 98th in FBS in total defense, allowing 510 yards per game, giving up 6.94 yards per play. It’s last in the Mountain West conference with 0.33 defensive PPA per play relative to the conference average of 0.17. The Aggies are generating defensive Havoc of 0.11, putting them in second-to-last place in the conference and well below the conference average of 0.17.

The defense will have to get to Strong to keep this close. Utah State’s defensive stats have been uninspiring this season, which is reflective of its tough matchups against two strong programs. This matchup doesn’t look promising for the flailing defense.

Nevada Wolf Pack

Strong is the name you need to know in this game. The 6-foot-4 sophomore quarterback has thrown for 300-plus yards in four consecutive games and is seventh in the nation in passing efficiency. He hasn’t thrown a pick in 230 passing attempts and is developing a strong rapport with junior WR Romeo Doubs.

The Wolf Pack are 13th in FBS in total offense, averaging 496 yards per game for 7.47 yards per play. They hold an offensive PPA per play of 0.38, which is the best in the conference and more than double the conference average of 0.17. Nevada likes to pass, throwing 65% of the time. Make no doubt about it, Strong will be on display Thursday against the exploitable Utah State secondary as he looks to make it five consecutive games with over 300 yards passing.

The Wolf Pack defense has been solid through two games this season, ranking 27th in FBS in total defense, allowing 354 yards per game. They have given up 5.06 yards per play and have only allowed five touchdowns this season. The defensive PPA per play is 0.15, better than the conference average 0.17.

Nevada’s defensive Havoc rate sits at 0.13, below the conference average. The Wolf Pack could stand to be more aggressive on defense and will need to be in future weeks to contend with the tougher competition in the Mountain West.

But the Wolf Pack defense is steady and should not have a problem this week as they face one of the nation’s least productive offenses.


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Betting Analysis & Pick

The Wolf Pack come into the game with one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. If Strong keeps it up, don’t be surprised to hear his name tossed around for various awards and future draft talk.

The Nevada defense has been balanced and does not appear to face a threat in Utah State based on its output so far this season.

Look for the Aggies to struggle on offense here as Strong and the rest of the Wolf Pack continue with their potent aerial attack. The short week and quick turnaround to get to Reno should play in Nevada’s favor here as well. My model has Nevada as 23-point favorites and the total firmly at 62.

Pick: Nevada -16.5. (up to -18). or better. Also, the over presents good value here at 56.5 (up to 59).

[Bet Nevada now at BetMGM and get a $500 INSTANT deposit match]
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