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Utah has had the upper hand in this rivalry for a really long time. Suddenly, that has changed in the past year as Utah State broke their woeful 12-game losing streak against the Utes with a 27-20 win. That's right, before last season, the last time the Aggies beat Utah was in 1997. And even though USU is considered the better team in this matchup, the Utes are still favorites playing at home. Utah is a -2.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes.
Even though the Utes finished with a losing 5-7 record last season, they still fought against most of the teams they played at home. That's going to be their sole advantage in this game and the only reason why they are favorites. Utah was mediocre at best on the offensive end in 2012 scoring 26.7 points per game which just wasn't cutting it in conference play. Their passing game is the No. 1 thing that needs to improve and that's why they brought in new coordinator Dennis Erickson. The starter, Travis Wilson, managed just seven TDs compared with six INTs last year. At least his top wide outs will be returning in Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott. Kelvin York steps in as the starter at running back and will have to up his game against the Aggies.
Utah State allowed 15.4 points per game last year and return plenty of help on the defensive end. With new coach Matt Wells at the helm, it's a wonder if the same type of defense will show up this year for the Aggies. If so, they should be able to contain Utah to 20 points or less.
The Aggies also look strong on the offensive end led by quarterback Chuckie Keeton who had 35 total touchdowns last year. He'll be missing Kerwynn Williams in the backfield (1,512 rushing yards), but Joe Hill can be a viable starter. Keeton will also be missing his top receivers so it will be interesting to see how he performs with some new faces on the offensive side. Playing on the road against the Utes won't be an easy task.
Travis Wilson wasn't the starter in last year's matchup between these teams even though he did come in to throw one pass which was a touchdown. It's going to come down to who performs better between him and Keeton. If Keeton finds room on the ground, which he usually does, the advantage will go to the Aggies.
In this matchup, Utah State is 3-1-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Utah. Also in favor for the Aggies is that the road team is 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven. In USU's last six road games overall, they are 5-0-1. On the other end of that, Utah is 4-1 ATS in their last five home games and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 against the MWC. Utah will need consistent play from Wilson and build off the crowd if they want to come away victorious.
This game could be one of the most intriguing opening week games. These teams are evenly matched. We have the Utes looking for revenge against a Utah State team that was 11-2 year ago. 11-2 but lost to their two toughest opponents, Wisconsin and BYU. The rest of their dance card wasn't all that tough while the Utes were playing a PAC 12 schedule. Still, had they played at the end of last season, our model would have had the Aggies on top in a nail biter, 23-21. Revenge is a powerful angle in college ball, especially when that chance for revenge comes at home. No Key Release, but..... Utah -2.5
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