Wyoming comes off of an offensive performance that it does not figure to repeat while Utah State is down to its freshman fourth string quarterback, so go ‘under’ on Friday.
Do not expect a whole lot of scoring in this Friday night prime time Mountain West Conference game when the Utah State Aggies (6-3, 2-3 away) pay a visit to the Wyoming Cowboys (4-5, 3-1 home) at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, WY at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 45 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -104.
Bowl Eligible Again
Utah State become bowl eligible for the fourth straight year by improving to 6-3 with a 35-14 win at Hawaii last week. The Aggies have overcome the loss of starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton by playing stiff defense, just as they have for the last several years, ranking 39th in the country in total defense allowing just 355.2 per game and 26th in scoring defense at only 21.0 points per contest. Their strength is defending the run, where they are fifth in the nation!
Wyoming has a losing college football picks record of 4-5, but to be fair two of those losses were hopeless contests on the road at Oregon and Michigan State. Still, the Cowboys were off to a 1-3 start inside the Mountain West and riding a four-game losing streak prior to their trip to Fresno State last week. Also, they lost leading rusher Shaun Wick to a hand injury a couple of weeks ago and he is out until later this month.
Anomalous Offense Last Week
And yet, seemingly against all odds, Wyoming exploded for a 45-17 road upset as a 15-point underdog vs. the porous Fresno State defense, generating an unbelievable 694 total yards while outgaining the Bulldogs by 378 yards! What made that feat more amazing and unexpected was that the Cowboys had only outgained one other opponent all season prior to that game, and that was while outgaining a less-than-stellar Florida Atlantic offense by just 38 yards.
However, two players had career games in that contest that do not figure to be repeated vs. the stout Utah State defense, as backup running back Brian Hill rushed for an amazing 281 yards while filling in for Wick and also added 106 receiving yards on three catches for 387 yards from scrimmage, while quarterback Colby Kirkegaard passed for 320 yards while completing 19-of-28 passes.
Hill does not figure to come anywhere near those numbers vs. an Aggies’ run defense allowing just 89.9 rushing yards per game on a scant 2.5 yards per carry, and that should have a direct impact on Kirkegaard’s numbers, as he has only completed 59.0 percent of his passes this season with a modest 11 touchdown passes vs. six interceptions, and his success last week was made easy by Hill’s running.
And besides having the fifth best rushing defense in the country, Utah State is also tied for second in the land with Washington with 37 sacks, as only its in-state rival Utah has gotten to the quarterback more (39).
Quarterbacks Dropping Like Flies
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Aggies hoped the dynamic Keeton would be under center all season after he was knocked out with a torn ACL last year, but he was again lost for the season this year when he re-injured the knee. But that was only the beginning as back-up Darell Garretson and third stinger Craig Harrison were then also lost to injuries!
Thus, freshman fourth-string quarterback Kent Myers made his first collegiate start last week, and he actually set a Mountain West record for completion percentage in a game at 93.3 percent! Before getting too excited however, consider that he set that record on only 15 attempts, completing 14 of them, and he only threw for 186 yards.
Expect the Aggies to continue to try and protect Myers with another conservative game plan here as the team did rush for 235 yards on 50 carries vs. the Rainbow Warriors. The results may not be quite as good however as Utah State is only ranked 85th nationally in rushing offense at 149.1 rushing yards per game.
Aggies Worse on Road
Also, while Utah State is a perfect 4-0 at home, it is only 2-3 when traveling as it is here. The main culprit has been the offense, as the defense has performed well as usual even away from home allowing just 21.8 point per game, but the offense has provided very little help averaging just 20.8 points on the road.
Look for those patterns to continue here, which seems very conducive to an ‘under’ when Utah State visits Wyoming on ESPN2 Friday.
College Football Pick: Utah State, Wyoming ‘under’ 45 (-104)