College Football Picks: Utah State Aggies vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Fresno State may have had its BCS dreams dashed at San Jose State last week, but it probably still has too much offense for Utah State hosting the Mountain West Championship.

The home team should bounce back in a big way from its first loss on Saturday night when the Utah State Aggies (8-4, 4-2 away) pay a visit to those Fresno State Bulldogs (10-1, 6-0 home) in the Mountain West Championship Game from Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, CA at 10:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Fresno State as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -3½ with odds of -106.

The Bulldogs were dreaming of becoming BCS Busters this year as they were cruising along at 10-0 until they travelled to San Jose State last week and were torched by David Fales and the Spartans 62-52. They received a dose of their own medicine in that game as Fales threw for 547 yards vs. the Fresno State secondary, offsetting a typical 519 passing yards by the Bulldogs’ Derek Carr.

Fresno faces no such huge passing threat here though as Utah State enters this game on a five-game winning streak despite losing quarterback Chuckie Keeton to both a torn ACL and MCL early in the season. His replacement Darell Garretson has performed admirably, but the Aggies really benefitted from a ridiculously easy schedule over the last month of the season as they were double-digit favorites in all five wins during their season ending winning streak.

We expect Utah State to receive a dose of reality here, especially with this Mountain West Championship Game being played on Fresno State’s home field where the Bulldogs are 6-0. Fresno State is second in the country in total offense at 580.6 yards per game and it leads the land in passing offense thanks to Carr at a bloated 410.3 yards per game through the air.

Sure the Utah State defense ranks a respectable 23rd in the country in passing defense, but it is difficult to gauge just how valid that ranking is considering the weak teams the Aggies faced down the stretch. We feel that Carr will do his usual thing playing here at home, where he is averaging 430.7 passing yards per game on an almost unfathomable 11.9 yards per attempt, and that Utah State will have to figure out a way to score to try and match Fresno State offensively.

The last time the Utah State faced a quality team before the winning steak, the Aggies lost at home to Boise State 34-23 after losing Keeton the previous week in a 31-14 home loss to BYU. Since then the Aggies’ five wins have come vs. New Mexico, Hawaii, UNLV, Colorado State and Wyoming, with the only road game in that stretch coming at UNLV where Utah State barely escaped 28-24 as a 16½-point favorite!

That stretch of wins in no way prepared the Aggies to take on this Fresno State offense, and the fact that the Utah State offense is only averaging 314.0 total yards over the last three weeks on 3.3 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per pass attempt vs. such a weak schedule is especially disconcerting.

So the bottom line here is that Utah State does not figure to slow down Fresno State much despite its deceptively good defensive stats, and while the Bulldogs will give up points, the Aggies do not have enough firepower to match them point-for-point. Thus this looks like a great “buy low” situation getting Fresno State at a cheap price at home Saturday.

[gameodds]6/251793/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

College Football Pick: Fresno State -3½ (-106)