Well this is certainly an interesting match up this weekend between the Wyoming Cowboys and Utah State Aggies. On paper this doesn't look like a close game and is probably the reason Utah State is an 11 point favorite. When a team fails to execute in the fourth quarter there are some bad consequences and that is a big reason why Utah State is sitting at 1-3 on the year. Their only victory was a 54-17 drubbing of Weber State. That happened a week after Wyoming snuck past Weber State 35-32.
While Wyoming has two very close victories that came down to the final drive of the game, Utah State has lost three games in the final minutes. The power running game of the Aggies is #5 in the nation at 307.5 yards per game. The Aggies utilize a three headed running attack like Wyoming but go with the option instead of the spread. Robert Turbin leads the team with 488 yards, Michael Smith has 265 and Kerwynn Williams has 255. The play of true freshmen QB Chuckie Keeton has been a big boost for the Aggies. Keeton has 587 yards passing and four touchdowns plus 150 yards on the ground and three scores. He has yet to throw an interception in his career.
Still this is a game where I feel you almost need to stop looking at the numbers and I think that history and other factors will contribute to the outcome of this game. The Cowboys have swept the last four meetings between these two teams which all happened between 2001 and 2007. The last time Utah State beat Wyoming was 1978. Sometimes one team just has another teams number and that certainly has been true over the last decade with these two teams.
The Cowboys hosted Nebraska two weeks ago and faced run heavy team that employs the option. Then the Pokes have had two weeks to study that tape and prepare for Utah State. Robert Turbin is certainly a fine running back but he is not as tough to bring down as Rex Burkhead. The secondary for Utah State certainly has some weaknesses that Wyoming can exploit. If Brett Smith can connect on some deep passes it could create some big trouble for the Aggies.
Here are couple keys to the game for the Cowboys:
Win the turnover battle. So far the Cowboys are back to their 2009 selves and are +6 in turnover margin. Meanwhile the Aggies are -3 and it is all due to fumbles. If the Pokes can reduce their mistakes and capitalize on mistakes from Utah State this could be an easy win.
- Keep the defense off balance. Wyoming boasts a potent offense that is two dimensional and needs to stay that way. Against Nebraska the Pokes emphasized the run and that opened up things in the passing game. With three strong running backs Wyoming can move the ball and needs to eat the clock with the ground game. Then pull the trigger for a big pass play and break the secondary.
Wyoming 31 Utah State 27