San Jose State vs. Utah State: Three Keys to a Spartan Victory
Can the Spartans go on the road and beat a ranked opponent this week?
After keeping the score close on the road at Wyoming, the Spartans will be in for an even tougher matchup this week as they head to Utah to face one of the best teams in the conference. Utah State is now ranked #14 in the AP poll which is there highest ranking in 57 years. If the Spartans want to pull off the major upset this week they will have to accomplish these 3 keys:
Play a near perfect game on defense: For the Spartans to have a chance this week they will have to slow down an offense that puts up nearly 50 points per game. If you are going to go on the road and upset a team ranked #14 while you only have one win, your defense will have to have its best game of the year. The Spartans defense has not been great but it has been getting better all season.
The San Jose State defense will need a complete game from the first drive to the last if they want to hang with the Aggies. The Spartans will need to hold Utah State to at least under 35 points if they want to come out with the win. To have a perfect game the Spartans will need a pass rush from there senior D-line, have Jamal Scott and Ethan Aguayo racking up tackles, while Dakari Monroe will have to have a few more pass breakups and maybe an interception.
Make a few big plays happen:
Since Josh Love has taken over at QB he has shown the ability to create some big plays. Recently against UNLV and even last week in the second half to keep San Jose in the game, Love has been able to complete a deep ball for a big gain.
Against Utah State, San Jose will need to have a few big plays on offense to hopefully open up some running lanes and the underneath passes that keep a drive going. The Aggies are going to score some points so San Jose will need to be able to keep up with them as falling in a hole early in the first half has been a problem for the Spartans. Also, a big play on special teams either through a punt block or a kick return for a touchdown would go a long way in helping the Spartans achieve a big upset.
3rd down distance: Utah State is a very good team both on offense and defense ranking 20th and 29th in S&P+ respectively. The Aggies have very little holes on there team and do not pose very many weaknesses that the Spartans can attack. Although this season they have been in 3rd and long almost 50% of the time and their average distance to go on third down is 7.5 yards. On defense, they rank 113th in average 3rd down distance to go.
For the Spartans to win this week they will need to first put Utah State in 3rd and long, which they have been in a lot this season, but they will also have to get off the field on 3rd down. Forcing an opponent to continually have to convert long 3rd downs will definitely increase your chances of winning. In addition, on the flip side putting yourself in position to only have to pick up a couple of yards on third down also goes a long way in sustaining drives and ultimately scoring to keep up with the Aggies.