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Mountain West Conference Championship Preview

One has to question Fresno State’s state of mind after the Bulldogs saw their bid for an undefeated season and a possible BCS Bowl come to an end in last week’s 62-52 loss to San Jose State.  Rather than going to a possible BCS Bowl, Fresno State will likely find itself playing in the Las Vegas Bowl assuming they defeat the Aggies in the Mountain West Conference Championship game. “Guys are tore up, as well they should be,” Carr told the school’s official website.  “When you have the type of season we were having – we are having – it’s rough but we still got bigger goals ahead of us,” said star wideout Davante Adams.

After having their bubble burst last week, the Bulldogs now face an underrated Utah State squad that possesses one of the best defenses in the nation.  In fact, Utah State is allowing just 16.7 points per game this season at 2.9 yards per rush play, 6.4 yards per pass attempt and 4.8 yards per play.  Overall, the Aggies are 1.7 yards per rush play, 0.8 yards per pass attempt and 0.9 yards per play better than average defensively, which is certainly good enough to slow down Fresno State’s prolific attack.  The Bulldogs are 0.2 yards per rush play, 0.3 yards per pass play and 0.9 yards per play better than average offensively this season, which actually gives the underdog an advantage from the line of scrimmage:

Utah State Defense vs. Fresno State Offense:

  • +1.5 yards per rush play advantage
  • +0.5 yards per pass attempt advantage
  • +0.0 yards per play advantage overall

Utah State’s problem is an offense guided by freshman quarterback Darrell Garretson, who is now without leading wide receiver Travis Reynolds.  The loss of Reynolds is significant in that he averaged 11.6 yards per pass thrown to him, whereas receivers Van Leeuwen and Natson combine to average just 6.2 yards per target.  Without Reynolds on the field, Utah State’s already-mediocre offense becomes 0.3 yards per play worse than average, which is still good enough to have success against a terrible Fresno State stop unit.  The Bulldogs are 0.8 yards per play worse than average defensively without star defensive back L.J. Jones (knee injury), who leads the team with 9 passes broken up.  Overall, Utah State has a 0.5 yards per play advantage offensively over the Bulldogs’ stop unit, and the Aggies also possess superior special teams.

From a technical standpoint, Utah State is 14-2 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning record, whereas the Bulldogs are 1-15-1 ATS following an upset loss, including 0-10 ATS at home.  Finally, college football teams who start the season 5-0 or better are 134-182-3 ATS following their first loss of the season.

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