Staff picks: BYU vs. Utah State

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BYU takes the field prior to last years match-up against Utah State. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

BYU 28, USU 17

Aaron Fitzner

The most daunting fact for Utah State football, to me, occurred in week one. The Aggies dropped a close game to the then-ranked No. 14 Michigan State Spartans. Aggie fans celebrated the loss (yes, they’ll celebrate a loss), but the most fascinating fact happened in the AP poll. The Spartans, after the win, DROPPED SEVEN PLACES. Yes, they won the game and still dropped seven spots to No. 21. That says a lot about Utah State’s team.

Since then, the Aggies have been ranked fourth in the nation in points per game. This would be incredibly impressive if they hadn’t only played weak opponents. Two of the three teams they have played since Michigan State have NEVER been nationally ranked, with the third team last receiving top 25 recognition in 1985. Pretty tough stats to be boasting about.

BYU is coming off a blowout loss to No. 10 Washington but has won games against both Arizona and then No. 6 Wisconsin. The Cougars were only a field goal shy of sending the game against California into overtime, a team that has received national recognition in the AP Top 25 poll this season. As far as strength of schedule goes, BYU has a HEAVY advantage.

I expect the Cougars’ jet sweep to overpower the Aggie first line of defense. Utah State does hoist good numbers in its secondary; however, this is not where BYU spends much of its time. I expect the Cougars’ run-heavy offense, led by Squally Canada, to reach the end zone four times against the Aggies. BYU’s defense will do the rest. This game will improve the Cougars’ win-loss record against Utah State (since Utah State transitioned from being Utah Agricultural College in 1957) to an overwhelming 39-17.

The Aggies will go on to have yet another subpar season in a conference that currently holds no spots in the AP Poll Top 25 ranking. The Utah State football team has never won a Mountain West Conference championship game, which is hard to imagine considering the conference is nationally known as the fourth weakest conference in FBS football. This pattern will continue this year and for years to come.

BYU 24, USU 17

Jackson Payne

Utah State has been stellar on offense, but its three wins have come against teams with a combined 1-8 record this season. Not exactly impressive or unexpected from a program without a power-five victory since 2014. BYU suffered a bad loss last week, but Tanner Mangum had his best performance of the year and should feel confident at home. The Cougar defense isn’t outstanding, but it’s shown it’s capable of making big plays and holding its ground. Rivalry games (yes, it IS a rivalry) are usually close, but the Aggies only have one win in LaVell’s house. Avenging last years debacle in Logan, the Cougars will take back the Wagon Wheel in a tight contest.

BYU 24, USU 14

Abigail Keenan

I think the Aggies will come out hot and ready, but just like a Little Caesars’ pizza, they won’t last very long. The Aggies will enter the end zone first but BYU’s defense will make improvements and adapt accordingly. Tanner Mangum and the BYU offense will match the touchdown and follow up with another seven points. The second quarter will be slow for both teams, but halftime will entertain and invigorate the Cougs. Greg Wrubell’s voice will inspire a power surge from tight end Matt Bushman, who will lead the offensive line to another touchdown.

BYU 35, USU 31

Tre Harris

BYU’s offense has been struggling over the past few games, but it will find its stride this week and score more points than in previous weeks. Tanner Mangum will throw for 200+ yards, helping BYU win the game. Utah State will score points as its offense is potent and quarterback Jordan Love can huck the rock all over the field. BYU will have to pull off the win late because Utah State starts fast and generally holds down the gas pedal throughout the game. Utah State’s defense is pretty stout, so BYU will need to play a good game offensively in order to move the ball. BYU’s defense should have a couple of its studs back and it will perform better this week.

BYU 24, USU 17

Caitlyn Alldredge

Rivalry games rarely go as expected. This year will be a very close game, but BYU will ultimately come out on top thanks to its defense. Utah State has no shortage of offensive scoring, but if BYU’s defense shows up and plays its best, it can slow USU’s offense down enough to win the game. The biggest question is if the Cougars can bounce back after a tough loss to Washington, but BYU players have proven they have a strong mental game. The Cougars will come up with the victory in Provo tonight.
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