Betting Utah State-BYU: There’s a Lot to Like About the Aggies
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jordan Love
Utah State-BYU Betting Odds, Pick
- Odds: BYU -3
- Over/Under: 55
- Time: 9 p.m. ET on Friday
- TV Channel: ESPN2
>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
There are four Group of 5 teams that rank top 15 in yards-per-play differential. It’s not easy for lower-tier teams to make that list this early, because they often face at least one quality Power 5 opponent.
- No. 2: Appalachian State
- No. 4: Memphis
- No. 13: Utah State
- No. 14: UCF
Three of those names you’d probably expect. But one doesn’t seem like it belongs.
That’s Utah State, which takes on BYU as a 3-point underdog on Friday night.
Dissecting the Aggies Season So Far
Utah State gave Michigan State a real scare in East Lansing in Week 1, a 38-31 loss as a 24-point underdog. There was nothing fluky about it — turnovers were even, the yardage battle was close and Utah State moved the ball through the air without much opposition.
Since, the Aggies been throttling everyone. They’ve improved in S&P+ every week, from a preseason rating of 78th to 40th.
- Preseason: 78
- Week 1: 73
- Week 2: 70
- Week 3: 56
- Week 4: 42
- Week 5: 40
It was against fairly weak competition — Tennessee Tech, New Mexico State and Air Force — but Utah State has still beaten up on teams they were supposed to beat up.
What Makes Utah State Tick?
Utah State has been balanced on offense so far this season. Quarterback Jordan Love has completed 66.7% of his passes for a steady 7.9 yards per attempt.
Running backs Gerold Bright and Darwin Thompson have combined for 533 yards and 10 scores on 8.13 yards per attempt.
What I love most about this Aggies offense is how off-balance it keeps the opposition. Utah State ranks eighth in adjusted pace, so it plays fast. The Aggies throw on running downs more often than almost anyone in the country.
In the red zone, they spread teams out and use those quality backs to punch in scores. Our Geoff Schwartz wrote a great piece this summer about how ineffective jumbo packages are at the goal line.
You’re better off lining up in normal personnel to 1) not allow the defense to stack the box and 2) not telegraph what you’re doing.
Utah State scored three times on running plays from inside Michigan State’s 5-yard line against the Spartans’ vaunted rushing defense by spreading it out.
The Aggies are smart and fun to watch on offense.
A Good Situational Spot
Utah State is coming off a bye, while BYU had a tough test at Washington and is now on a short week with this game being played Friday night.
Aggies coach Matt Wells is 7-3 ATS with at least nine days to prepare since taking the job in 2013. However, he is one of the worst coaches in the country in close games.
BYU’s Offense Is a Concern
The Cougars have faced one of the toughest schedules in the country — Arizona, Cal, Washington, Wisconsin.
That bodes well for BYU, but coming off that Washington game on short rest will be tough. The Cougars defense limits big plays, but allows opposing offenses to move the ball in chunks.
BYU’s offense hasn’t shown much, even in wins over Wisconsin and Arizona. It ranks 101st in offensive S&P+, and the only thing it does well is rush efficiency — it’s not explosive or efficient anywhere else. Utah State’s defense ranks top 50 in most advanced metrics related to rushing.
I think Utah State is much better on offense, and defense should be about a wash. The Aggies also boast excellent special teams, including one of the best kickers in the country.
I’d love +3 — it’s available at Bovada as of this writing — but think the Aggies can win this game outright.