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Utah State was good last year, but not great, finishing 6-7 overall with a bowl loss to Akron. The Aggies lost three games in non-conference play and three road games in the MWC. With a little more consistency in difficult games, they could challenge for the Mountain division, as long as new coordinators fit in well -- they'll have co-coordinators on both sides of the ball. They'll be able to do that because of an offense that should be one of the better ones in the conference.
Kent Myers is back at quarterback and finally doesn't have to compete with Chuckie Keeton for playing time. Myers was great last year when he played, tossing 16 TDs to 3 INTs, while running for 356 yards and three more touchdowns. With an offensive line that returns four starters, he should have no problem returning to those kinds of levels, especially in the ground game. Head coach Matt Wells wants his team to be more run-focused with so many returning linemen.
That also includes running back Devante Mays (966 yards, 9 TDs), who should top last year's numbers as well as former starter LaJuan Hunt (338 yards, 5 TDs). Receiver is a bit more of a question with Andrew Rodriguez (281 yards, 1 TDs) and tight end Wyatt Houston (307 yards, 3 TDs) the top returning options. While Utah State may run the ball a ton, they still need to find receiving options if Myers wants to reach last year's TD-INT ratio.
But this year, it may be the defense that's a step behind, unlike previous seasons. The linebacking core will be mostly new and that's where the Aggies have been best with multiple guys now in the NFL. While the linebackers are new, the line has experience to work with in end Ricky Ali'ifua and nose guard Travis Seefeldt. The secondary is the same with all four starters having decent experience led by corner Jalen Davis and safety Devin Centers. USU took a step back last year allowing 26.7 points per game and that may happen again, mainly due to a weaker set of linebackers.
To make six wins easier this year, the Aggies have a slightly easier non-conference schedule, but only slightly. They still travel to USC and then BYU in the season finale. Similar to last year, Utah State could once again have three losses on the road in conference play with Boise State, Colorado State and Nevada all on the slate. The Aggies beat those teams last year, but that was at home and can't be trusted on the road as seen last year. Other than that, they should be around the same record with San Diego State and Air Force providing tough home games.
Their over/under at 5Dimes is sitting at 6.5, but the over was at -195 in early June. The offense may be better, but the defense might be worse, and that could lead this team to another 6- or 7-win record.
2016 Utah State Aggies Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Weber State
Sept. 10 at USC
Sept. 16 vs. Arkansas State
Sept. 24 vs. Air Force
Oct. 1 at Boise State
Oct. 8 at Colorado State
Oct. 22 vs. Fresno State
Oct. 28 vs. San Diego State
Nov. 5 at Wyoming
Nov. 12 vs. New Mexico
Nov. 19 at Nevada
Nov. 26 at BYU
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