Utah State vs. Wake Forest: Game Preview, Kick Time, TV & Radio Schedule, Prediction
The Aggies have a tall task in Week 1 as they take on ACC foe Wake Forest.
Love is all you need, Aggie fans.
WEEK 1: Utah State at Wake Forest
WHEN: Friday, August 30th – 6:00 pm MST / 8:00 pm EST
WHERE: BT&T Field; Winston-Salem, NC (31,500)
TV: ACC Network (Channel avalablity)
STREAM: You can watch this game on Hulu Live, Playstation Vue, or YouTube TV.
RADIO: Listen nationally on Sirius 136 / XM 193 / Internet 973. The local broadcast on 1280thezone (1280 AM) or on 1280thezone.com.
SERIES RECORD: Tied 1-1. In the last game on September 26, 2017, USU got humbled 46-10.
ODDS: Wake -3.5
FEI PROJECTION: Utah State by 7.5
College football is back, Aggie fans! It’s time for Utah State to go to work on its quest for a Mountain West title.
Before they get into the meat of their conference schedule, Aggies first have to contend with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. This surprisingly strong team embarrassed the Aggies on their last trip to Winston-Salem in 2017. Both teams have changed dramatically since then and Friday’s match-up is expected to be a close, intense affair with the makings of a classic shootout.
The Aggies have yet to win a road P5 game this decade, despite coming close numerous times. Dave Clawson coached the Deacs’ through adversity and finished last season strong with their third consecutive bowl win. Though they have a few dazzling skill players like QB Jamie Newman and RB Cade Carney, Wake Forest is young in the trenches, both offense and defense.
Three Keys to an Aggie Victory
1. Stop the run!
It’s an old cliche, but it nonetheless holds true here. Wake Forest has a stud running back in senior Cade Carney. He rushed for 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns on 189 carries in 2018, averaging out a very respectable 5.3 ypc. Big and physical, Carney is the type of player who welcomes contact and is not afraid to plow over multiple guys to reach pay dirt.
Carney is going to be a stiff test for USU’s defensive line. Fortunately, this senior-laden unit appears to be up to the task. The Aggies ranked 45th against the run in 2018, holding opponents to 145.1 yards per game. This run defense shined brilliantly against Michigan State and BYU. Down the season stretch, it struggled a bit more against CSU and Boise State. Nonetheless, with now improved unit health, Chris Unga, Fua Leilua, and Devon Anderson will be stout. If they can effectively take up blocks, it may allow junior David Woodward to snuff out any big runs before Carney can get a head of steam.
2. Contain Jamie Newman
Wake Forest has two viable options at quarterback, but junior Jamie Newman will be their starter. He’s a genuine threat with his arm, completing a good 59.6% of his passes for 1,083 yards with a 9-4 touchdown-interception ratio. He also garnered most of his stats in just four starts after sophomore Sam Hartman broke his leg late in the 2018 season.
Newman’s dynamic play-making ability comes from his legs, though. He averaged nearly 4 ypc in 2018 and scored four touchdowns to boot. After an electric performance against Memphis in the comeback bowl victory, it’s easy to see why head coach Dave Clawson gave the starting nod to Newman. If Aggie defenders let him get outside the pocket, he could wreak havoc on USU’s questionable secondary. Again, USU’s defensive line needs to get a strong push on a somewhat inexperienced Wake offensive line.
3. Keep Jordan Love upright
It’s no secret Utah State has serious question marks on its offensive line. Though sophomore LT Alfred Edwards returns, only one other player on the line has significant experience: junior C Demytrick Ali’ifua. He played in all thirteen games last season for USU and got a couple of starts as well. Both of these players need to play their best in order to bring stability and calm to the newcomers on the line. If this unit is not able to keep Jordan Love from getting sacked all night, USU’s rushing attack may not be able to carry the load.
The good news for the offensive line is that Wake Forest has significant question marks along their defensive front. Per Wake Forest beat writer Les Johns, DT Tyler Williams is out for this game. This leaves Wake’s defensive line starting lineup with two freshmen, one sophomore, and one junior. USU may have a steep learning curve on it’s retooled offensive line, but Wake’s lack of depth and experience may make that curve easier to handle.
USU has a few match-up disadvantages in this game and only one or two clear cut advantages. Aggies have a defensive line that is primed for almost any opponent, but the thin Aggie secondary has to contend with Wake’s explosive receivers. If USU can’t get pressure on Newman, it could potentially be a long night for the defense.
This game won’t be anything like the 2017 disaster. Utah State has plenty of play-makers on offense, especially if Jordan Love can stay on his feet. On defense, the Aggies will give themselves a great chance to win by stuffing Carney and harassing Newman. When it comes right down to it, Utah State’s special teams unit will finally have their moment and seal USU’s second-ever ACC victory by a field goal.
Utah State 34, Wake Forest 31