Utah State (4-5) vs. Nevada (2-7)
Series: Nevada has dominated the series with Utah State and is 7-19 all-time against the Aggies, including 9-5 in Logan. Utah State has won three of the last five matchups, however.
Weather: Mostly sunny with no chance of precipitation, 4 mph winds out of southwest and temperatures in the mid-40s at kickoff.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 4-5 and are coming off a season-altering win on the road against San Diego State. Lose in Southern California and USU would have been fighting for its postseason life. Now, the Aggies need to win two of their next three games to become bowl eligible.
For Nevada: The Wolfpack (2-7 overall, 2-3 in Mountain West play), lost at home against Hawaii last week, snapping a two-game winning streak that had completely altered the look of Nevada’s season.
What to watch for
Coming off the win at San Diego State, Utah State is now two wins away from becoming bowl eligible.
Nevada stands as a prime opponent against which to secure another victory and the Aggies appear well suited to do so.
Utah State is, statistically, far superior to Nevada. Here’s a brief sampling of the Aggies’ success this season:
• Utah State runs a play on average every 21.2 seconds, which ranks as the fourth-fastest tempo in the nation.
• Utah State’s 27 touchdown passes are tied with Washington for the fourth-most at the FBS level, trailing only USC (29), LSU (28) and Oregon (28).
• Utah State is second in the Mountain West and 20th in the nation in scoring offense, is first in the MW and 26th in the nation in total offense, and is third in the MW and 26th in the nation in passing offense.
• Utah State’s defense is third in the Mountain West and 19th in the nation with its 17 forced turnovers and ranks third in the MW and 10th in the nation with eight fumble recoveries. It is also third in the MW and 34th in the nation with nine passes intercepted.
• Utah State and LSU are the only FBS teams that have two players with at least nine touchdown catches this season and USU is the only team that has three players with at least five touchdown catches.
Nevada, meanwhile, rates as one of the worst teams at the FBS level, ranking No. 136 among all Division I teams (which slots the Wolfpack behind multiple FCS programs).
Utah State’s biggest issues this season have come along the offensive and defensive lines, where the Aggies are usually undersized. That shouldn’t be an issue against Nevada, however, and if USU wins the line of scrimmage battle things should go in its favor.
Nevada’s pistol offense is unique and dangerous when run by a mobile quarterback. QB uncertainty is plaguing the Wolfpack, however, with both Brendon Lewis and backup AJ Bianco struggling much of the season.
Cooper Legas, Utah State, quarterback: Realistically, Utah State is a better team than Nevada, as proven during the course of the season, and as such the Aggies should handle business at home. A lot of that will come down to the play of quarterback Cooper Legas, the newly minted starting QB (again).
Legas has been very good for USU this season, with the lone exception of turnovers, according to USU coach Blake Anderson. Legas didn’t turn the ball over against San Diego State, though, and if he can play mistake-free football against Nevada it should make for an easy win for Utah State.
“We know we’ve got to stop the run. I mean, it starts there. They’re gonna get into pistol and bring the run game, match it and create throws off of that. If you’re not solid and sound against the run and have a body for the quarterback then they’re gonna have you off balance all day. I think it’s always difficult to have to prepare for, too.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson.
“We’ve got to score more points, we’ve got to finish drives, we’ve got to not get behind in games so you have a chance of getting in there and having a run threat. When you don’t have a run threat and you’ve got to throw it, that makes it a lot harder. You’ve got to be really good at what you do, and we’re not ready to do that yet. We’ve got to do better. The whole offense has got to be coached better. All different areas of our team, but in that passing game, that’s an offensive deal. We’ve got to get that better.” — Nevada coach Ken Wilson.
Utah State: vs. Boise State on Nov. 18.
Nevada: at Colorado State on Nov. 18.
Utah State schedule
Sept. 2 — Iowa 24, Utah State 14.
Sept. 9 — Utah State 78, Idaho State 28.
Sept. 16 — Air Force 39, Utah State 21.
Sept. 23 — James Madison 45, Utah State 38.
Sept. 30 — Utah State 34, UConn 33.
Oct. 7 — Utah State 44, Colorado State 24.
Oct. 13 — Fresno State 37, Utah State 32.
Oct. 21 — San Jose State 42, Utah State 21.
Nov. 4 — Utah State 32, San Diego State 24.
Nov. 11 — vs. Nevada (1 p.m. MST).
Nov. 18 — vs. Boise State (5 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).
Nov. 24 — at New Mexico (1:30 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).