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2018

Utah State

College Football

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Utah State was back to relevance last year as it returned to a bowl game after only three wins in 2016. With 18 returning starters, another one or two wins should be expected, especially with an experienced Jordan Love leading the offense as a sophomore. The Aggies probably still won’t contend for the MWC title (+1450 to win it, fourth best), but they should turn a couple results around and that’s why their over/under (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) is at 7.5 wins. 

As a freshman, Love took over halfway through the season and provided big plays the offense needed. Sure, he only completed 54.5% of his passes, but his 7.21 yards per attempt were almost a full yard better than Kent Myers. A more consistent season is expected after scoring 30 points per game, mostly because of an improved Love, but also an offensive line that returns four starters, all upperclassmen. The line was already decent last year as the Aggies ran for 4.6 yards per carry and even with some new running backs, they should be just as good. Eltoro Allen (284 yards) and Gerold Bright (201 yards) are expected to split carries and there’s no reason they can’t match what LaJuan Hunt did. Receiver is also loaded with size in Ron’Quavion Tarver (40 receptions, 7 TDs) and tight end Dax Raymond (36 receptions), as well as speedster Jordan Nathan.

Getting more wins may fall to what the defense can do after it had some issues against better opponents last year. That said, allowing 26.9 points per game was still a solid rate even though they gave up 38 or more in four games. Coordinator is new with Frank Maile moving into a large role and Keith Patterson coming over from Arizona State. That shouldn’t change much, though, as a good portion of starters return (seven) to go with some high-level transfers (TCU, OK State). A lot of last year’s starters were freshmen and sophomores, so this group could become elite in a year if everyone stays healthy. Linebacker is the oldest position, filled with upperclassmen that will keep things afloat led by seniors Suli Tamaivena and Chase Christiansen. The secondary was the highlight of last year’s defense and should be again with returning corners Ja’Marcus Ingram and Cameron Haney to go with safeties Gaje Ferguson and Baron Gajkowski. 

Things will probably start rouge at MSU, but three home games to close out September could lead to an early 3-1 record. The question will be if USU can steal a road game somewhere as BYU, Hawai’i and Colorado State are all winnable places. Traveling to Wyoming and Boise is rough, but the Aggies get the projected three worst teams out of the West, so that’s another selling point for the over. Reaching eight wins isn’t a crazy ask from this team, but it’ll require Love to take the next step at quarterback in his sophomore season to go with a defense that doesn’t get exploited by the best offenses in the conference.

 

2018 Utah State Aggies Football Schedule

Aug. 31 at Michigan State 

Sept. 8 vs. New Mexico State

Sept. 13 vs. Tennessee Tech

Sept. 22 vs. Air Force

Oct. 5 at BYU

Oct. 13 vs. UNLV

Oct. 20 at Wyoming

Oct. 27 vs. New Mexico

Nov. 3 at Hawai’i

Nov. 10 vs. San Jose State

Nov. 17 at Colorado State

Nov. 24 at Boise State

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