Utah State at San Diego State -8.5 O/U 61.5
Recommendation: San Diego State
We’ve cashed a pair of back-to-back winners on San Diego State the past two weeks and the Aztecs are gaining steam and media attention in the process. Second year head coach Brady Hoke and his outstanding coordinators are quickly turning things around for this program. Last week San Diego State (+14.5) had Missouri flat out beat on the road while outplaying and outgaining the Tigers until a 68-yard bomb in the closing minute allowed Missouri to escape 27-24.
Still, San Diego State has been impressive in its opening three games going 2-1 including 3-0 against the spread (ATS). And while the line is rising (-8.5) this week in their home game against Utah State, I still expect the Aztecs to handle the Aggies.
San Diego State’s offense was expected to be pretty solid this season with quarterback Ryan Lindley a more polished passer and throwing to a trio of solid senior receivers. With improved offensive line play in the second-year system, the running game has also developed. Freshman running back Ronnie Hillman has burst on the scene and put up huge numbers while earning back-to-back Mountain West Conference player of the week honors.
Hoke has limited Hillman to media interviews as the hype builds
. The freshman sensation ran for 228 yards and 9.9 yards per rush (ypr) last week at Missouri after piling up 150 yards rushing and four touchdowns the week prior against at New Mexico State when we whacked a 20* Big Drive winner on the Aztecs. San Diego State hasn’t had a running back pile up numbers like this since superstar Marshall Faulk graced the field for SDSU in the early ‘90s.
So, with San Diego State averaging 513 yards offense and 7.0 yards per play thus far, the Aztecs offense should pile up points and yards again this week against a Utah State team that lacks muscle and depth on the defensive side. Utah State’s defensive front is experienced, but they are still allowing 5.0 ypr after allowing 5.3 ypr last season.
The Aggies showed well in their opening game loss at Oklahoma, but after getting blown out late in the second half last week in their conference opener against Fresno State (41-24), they are in a fairly flat spot Saturday with their big region rivalry on deck next Friday night vs. BYU on ESPN. Aggies quarterback Diondre Borel is a talented playmaker and skilled dual threat that can create plays but they’ll have to score plenty to keep up with San Diego State. SDSU returned no less than 16 starters this season, and the early season continuity and creative play calling should once again result in plenty of points from their productive players.
Since 2006, Utah State has gone 0-9 SU against Mountain West opponents. Only one time have they been less than a double-digit underdog and they still lost SU/ATS to a pathetic UNLV team. Perhaps a teaser is also warranted on San Diego State, but with a post game fireworks show following the Aztecs game Saturday night, it should be no surprise if San Diego State skyrockets to another big win on the field.
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