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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:49 AM

Utah State vs. Nevada Predictions, Odds


  • November 5, 2020
  • By Jonathan Willis
  • VegasInsider.com

The Utah State Aggies have yet to start the season. Sure, they have played two games, but they have failed to be competitive against either Boise State or San Diego State, losing those games by an average of 30 points.

Things won’t get any easier for the Aggies this week either, as they must travel to Reno to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack.

BETTING RESOURCES

Utah State-Nevada Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: Nevada -17
  • Money-Line: Nevada -850 Utah State +575
  • Total: 56

Odds Subject to Change

How to Handicap Utah State-Nevada

The Wolf Pack are 2-0 coming into Thursday night’s game with the Aggies. Nevada survived a late comeback attempt from Wyoming in the season opener, escaping with a 37-34 overtime victory thanks to a great performance from Carson Strong.

Strong threw for 420 yards and four touchdowns, and his final touchdown pass to Romeo Doubs locked up the win for the Wolf Pack.

They picked up the outright win as a short underdog in that game, leading to Nevada being favored by almost two touchdowns last week against rival UNLV. The Wolf Pack amassed almost 500 total yards of offense against the Rebels, and a late Brandon Talton field goal helped ensure they would pick up another cover in a 37-19 win.

Utah State has been blown out in its first two games. The offense has really struggled under transfer Jason Shelley, averaging just 10 PPG and 209 YPG.

That anemic effort has really taxed the defense, as we saw last week when the Aztecs outscored the Aggies 28-0 after halftime in a 38-7 win.

Those poor performances led to the line moving against the Aggies on Thursday night. Nevada was initially a 15-point favorite in this game.

Betting Analysis – Aggies

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • 2020: 0-2 S/U, 0-2 ATS, 2-0 O/U

Utah State has looked completely lost after losing its leading passer, rusher, receiver, and offensive coordinator from last season, leaving Gary Andersen searching for answers. His offense is one of the worst in the nation, ranking 108th nationally per SP+.

Shelley has had a rough go of it under center, but Andersen is committed to the junior for now despite his woes. He has completed just 56.3 percent of his passes, averaging 3.8 YPA with one touchdown and two interceptions, but Andrew Peasley has looked even worse in limited action.

A competent ground game would certainly help matters. Jaylen Warren hasn’t done a bad job given defenses are stacking the line, averaging 3.9 YPC, but both Devontae Henry-Cole and Elelyon Noa are picking up less than 2.5 YPC. Shelley hasn’t had much success on his home either with 10 carries for 50 yards when you take out sack yardage. Warren is questionable to play on Thursday.

Deven Thompkins and Justin McGriff have been the top receivers in the passing game, but there is no Aggies player averaging more than 9.0 YPR. McGriff is 6’6, so we could see more jump balls thrown his way in this game as Utah State tries to ignite this offense.

Defensively, the Aggies have had a hard time replacing their best cornerbacks from 2019. However, the main concern is clearly the run defense. Utah State is allowing 6.6 YPC, and both Boise State and San Diego State were content to pound the ball on the ground given the offensive woes.

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Betting Analysis - Wolf Pack

  • 2020: 2-0 S/U, 2-0 ATS, 1-1 O/U

Strong emerged as the best option for Nevada as a freshman last year, and he has looked great under center through the first two games of 2020. He has completed 75.9 percent of his passes and is averaging 9.7 YPA with six touchdowns and no interceptions. The sophomore quarterback is not a threat to run, having been sacked six times already this season, but he is precise with his passes.

His go-to receiver has been Doubs in both games. Doubs has 18 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns, and he currently leads the Mountain West in receiving yards. Elijah Cooks led the Wolf Pack in receiving last year, but he has not seen many targets while dealing with a shoulder injury that may keep him out of this game. Tight end Cole Turner is making the most of that absence with 11 receptions for 191 yards and two scores.

Nevada loves to air it out in Jay Norvell’s system. It’s interesting that Norvell became an offensive mind after playing defensive back in college, but unlike other coaches that started on defense, he has embraced the passing game. Norvell understands the importance of a good ground attack too though, as Nevada’s three running backs have combined to run the ball 42 times for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

This defense has been much better than expected. There were fears that the Wolf Pack would struggle on this side of the ball after Lucas Weber and Kameron Toomer suffered season-ending injuries just before the start of the season. However, Nevada currently ranks 25th nationally in total defense, allowing 354.5 YPG.

They have yet to play a good offense though as Wyoming and UNLV both rank outside Bill Connelly’s top 100 in offensive SP+.

Historically Speaking

Head-to-Head

The Aggies are just 6-13 against the Wolf Pack. Utah State has won three of the last four games in this series, but this team is 2-6 in Reno over the last three decades. Nevada won six straight games against Utah State from 2005 to 2010.

Last Meeting

Utah State picked up its biggest win ever against Nevada last year. Four of the Aggies’ six victories in this series have come by four points or less, but they pounded the Wolf Pack 36-10 last October.

Jordan Love wasn’t great, completing just 41.9 percent of his passes on the day, but Gerold Bright and Warren combined to run the ball 27 times for 199 yards and a touchdown.

Notable Betting Trends

-- The over is 4-0-1 in Utah State’s last five games

-- Nevada is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games

-- The home team has covered the spread in eight of the last 10 games

Utah State-Nevada Predictions

  • Score Prediction: Nevada 41, Utah State 23
  • Best Bet: Over 56


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