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Utah State Aggies quarterback Logan Bonner (1) passes the ball during the Mountain West Championship college football game between the Utah State Aggies and the San Diego State Aztecs on December 04, 2021. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire)
December 16th, 2021
After finishing third in the Pac-12 North, Oregon State is a prohibitive favorite over Mountain West Conference champion Utah State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.
Defense isn’t a specialty for either team, so Saturday’s matchup is all about offense.
Oregon State leans on the run, and Utah State relies on the pass.
Making its first bowl appearance in eight years after a 7-5 campaign, Oregon State will look to dominate on the ground. The Beavers had the Pac-12’s leading rushing offense, averaging 217.4 yards per game.
B.J. Baylor led the Pac-12 with 1,259 rushing yards, and Oregon State's size on the offensive line poses a problem for a soft Utah State run defense.
Oregon State has 17 football players on the All-Pac-12 teams this year:- BJ Baylor, Nathan Eldridge, and Avery Roberts are First Team selections.- Jack Colletto makes the Second Team.- 13 players land on the Honorable Mention list.— Carter Bahns (@carterbahns) December 7, 2021
Oregon State has 17 football players on the All-Pac-12 teams this year:- BJ Baylor, Nathan Eldridge, and Avery Roberts are First Team selections.- Jack Colletto makes the Second Team.- 13 players land on the Honorable Mention list.
The Beavers aren’t one-dimensional, as quarterback Chance Nolan developed into a solid passer in his first season as a starter, but they don’t want to be in passing situations too often.
Oregon State is bigger and stronger up front, and the Beavers will win if their size on defense slows down Utah State's passing game. That’s a possibility, but there are concerns.
The Beavers, who fired their defensive coordinator during the season, were vulnerable to dynamic offenses, surrendering more than 241 passing yards per game (87th nationally).
They’ll be without arguably their best defensive player, linebacker Avery Roberts. The Pac-12’s leading tackler was hurt in the season finale.
Utah State was not expected to make a bowl game after a dreadful 1-5 campaign last year, including three losses by 20-plus points, but first-year coach Blake Anderson orchestrated a remarkable turnaround, leading the Aggies to a 10-3 finish.
After winning the Mountain West's Mountain division, Utah State routed a short-handed San Diego State in the MWC Championship as a 6.5-point underdog, winning 46-13.
Logan Bonner, who followed Anderson via the transfer portal from Arkansas State, developed into one of the nation’s leading quarterbacks, throwing for 3,554 yards and 36 touchdowns. Brandon Bowling, one of three receivers with more than 700 yards this season, also transferred in from Arkansas State.
.@USUFootball broke all sorts of records at the #MWFBChampionship‼️#AtThePeak | #AggiesAllTheWay pic.twitter.com/SEyDR2wcGE— Mountain West (@MountainWest) December 8, 2021
.@USUFootball broke all sorts of records at the #MWFBChampionship‼️#AtThePeak | #AggiesAllTheWay pic.twitter.com/SEyDR2wcGE
Utah State led all MWC teams against the spread, logging a 9-4 record. The Aggies won seven of the last eight games, including five as underdogs.
Defense is a liability, as Utah State allowed 144.9 rushing yards per game, and the Aggies were thrashed for more than 350 rushing yards in their last loss (Wyoming in late November).
Utah State will try to grab the upper hand behind its top 15-ranked passing offense, which averages more than 300 yards per game.
The Mountain West is 13-12 against the Pac-12 in all-time bowl games, and Utah State won’t be intimidated by a team from a Power 5 conference. The Aggies defeated Washington State by a 26-23 margin as a 17-point underdog earlier this season.
Utah State must avoid a letdown after a rousing upset two weeks ago, but Anderson is proving to be a rising star in the coaching ranks and can play the “respect factor” — this is a lot of points to be laying on a high-powered offense.
Considering how Oregon State struggled to make third-down stops, ranking 127th out of 130 FBS teams, Utah State should take advantage. The Aggies led the Mountain West in third-down conversions.
Give us Utah State and the points!
Our predictive engine is calling for Oregon State to win outright.
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