Utah State vs. San Jose State: Keys to a Spartans Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Spartans host the Aggies in a surprisingly crucial conference clash. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for against Utah State.
A game full of potential surprises.
WEEK 11: Utah State Aggies (7-2, 4-1 Mountain West) vs. San Jose State Spartans (5-5, 3-3 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, November 13 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: CEFCU Stadium; San Jose, CA
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS1, by following this link.
RADIO: The San Jose State broadcast can be found in and around the San Francisco Bay Area on 860 AM (KTRB). The Utah State broadcast can be found throughout the state on the affiliates of the Aggie Radio Network, including flagship 1280 AM The Zone/97.5 FM (KZNS) out of Salt Lake City.
SERIES RECORD: San Jose State leads the all-time series 20-18-1. In the last meeting on November 10, 2018, the Aggies defeated the Spartans, 62-24, in Logan.
LAST WEEK: San Jose State lost to Nevada on the road, 27-24, while Utah State defeated New Mexico State on the road, 35-13.
ODDS (as of 11/10, via Vegas Insider): San Jose State -4.5
SP+ PROJECTION: San Jose State by 9.7
FEI PROJECTION: Utah State by 5.9
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: San Jose State 50.17% win probability
The San Jose State Spartans weren’t able to close out what would’ve been a big road win last week and this week’s home assignment against Utah State won’t be much easier.
Blake Anderson’s Aggies continued their surge last Saturday against New Mexico State and now turn their full attention to securing the team’s first Mountain division crown since 2013. With a powerful offense on one sideline and a stout defense on the other, what will give on Saturday night?
Here’s how San Jose State can beat Utah State.
Three Keys to a San Jose State Victory
1. Contain Deven Thompkins.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, finding a way to slow down the Mountain West’s top wide receiver would go a long way toward helping the Spartans secure a victory. That’s easier said than done, though, considering Thompkins averages eight catches, 146 receiving yards and just under a touchdown per game.
If any secondary is up to the task, though, it’s San Jose State. They’ve continued to have much better luck at turning defensed passes into interceptions, picking off Carson Strong twice last week, and the Spartans have now held three of their last four opponents under six yards per attempt. It’ll be interesting to see, then, where the Aggies choose to line Thompkins up and whether Nehemiah Shelton or another cornerback will get the lion’s share of the responsibility to keep him in check.
.@USUFootball's Deven Thompkins leads the nation in:
∙ All-Purpose Yards per Game
∙ Receiving Yards
∙ Receiving Yards per Game@GrandmasterDT joins @JKurtz_MWN to discuss his performance as the Aggies chase a berth in the MW Championship Game#AtThePeak | #AggiesAllTheWay pic.twitter.com/m6NQEP0iMl
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) November 10, 2021
2. Keep Tyler Nevens moving forward.
One struggle that Utah State and San Jose State have in common is that both teams have had plenty of struggles getting traction on the ground. By stuff rate allowed (percentage of runs stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage), the Spartans rank 122nd nationally (23.6%) and the Aggies are dead last (25.4%). You might think this would be a continued concern for both offenses, then, but San Jose State has an additional problem.
That’s because the Aggies defense has surged in recent weeks, albeit against a pair of pedestrian offenses. After picking up a whopping 25 tackles for loss in the last two games, Utah State now ranks 7th nationally by defensive stuff rate, so the offensive line must prove that it can keep the Aggies from having their way in the trenches where Hawaii and New Mexico State could not.
3. Don’t get cute at quarterback.
Nick Starkel’s return to action ended up being one of last week’s most pleasant surprises, but has he reclaimed the starting job for good? He and Nick Nash are still tied together by an “or” on the current depth chart, though the hope might be that Starkel can take better care of the football if he’s 100% healthy.
Whatever the case, head coach Brent Brennan might be best served by identifying one quarterback and sticking with him. Starkel might be better equipped to attack Utah State on the outside with help from Isaiah Hamilton and Jermaine Braddock, anyway, as the Aggies have nine interceptions on defense but zero from their cornerbacks.
Believe it or not, five of San Jose State’s six conference games to date have been decided by one score. Given Utah State’s propensity for slow starts and a defense that’s improved but still has plenty to prove, it wouldn’t be the weekend’s biggest shock to see the Spartans throw another close game onto the pile.
With the uncertainty at quarterback, however, it’s hard to see the offense stringing together enough scoring drives to keep the Aggies from continuing their very good and very charmed season.
Utah State 31, San Jose State 26