SDSU vs. Utah: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Utes were PAC-12 Conference Champions in 2021, yet before their decisive victory they were handed a loss by the Aztecs.
Utah faces SDSU on Saturday in special, familiar “Ute Proud” black-and-scarlet uniforms.
WEEK 3: San Diego State Aztecs (1-1, 0-0 MW) vs. University of Utah Utes (1-1, 0-0 PAC-12)
WHEN: Saturday, September 17th — 7:00 p.m. PST / 8:00 p.m. MST
WHERE: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT (51,444)
WEATHER: Scattered thunderstorms, temps ranging 54-73 degrees
TV: ESPN 2
LIVE STREAM: fuboTV (Watch for free)
RADIO: 101.5 KGB / XTRA 1360 / iHeart Radio App / SiriusXM ch. 383
SERIES RECORD: This will be the 32nd matchup between the Aztecs and Utes. Utah maintains a 17-13-1 series lead
LAST MEETING: SDSU defeated the Utes at Dignity Health Sports Park Stadium in Carson, CA, 33-31 in 3OT on September 18, 2021.
ODDS: Utah Utes -21.5
Salt Lake City, UT- The Aztecs are fresh off a 38-7 victory against the Big Sky Conference’s Idaho State Bengals last week at Snapdragon Stadium. The decisive victory followed a hard season-opening loss against the Arizona Wildcats during their inaugural first game. Aztecs coach Brady Hoke eluded that the Aztecs arguably defeated themselves.
After their own close but heartbreaking season-opening 26-29 loss against the Florida Gators, the Utes made up for the SEC loss by severely punishing their own week-2 FCS Big Sky foe, the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 73-7. Two takeaways include the Utes going 1-7 all-time against the SEC, and FCS teams can reach the end zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes seek to avenge last year’s shocking 3OT loss to the Aztecs in Carson. SDSU can anticipate that Rice-Eccles will be insanely loud; fans will extend a typical Utah sports fan welcome, and they will be incredibly sober.
Nearly every sports outlet has predicted a substantial margin of victory for the Utes. Every one… except Odds Shark, who predicts an Aztecs upset. For SDSU to have a chance they must play flawless football. Lady luck may have to present a few auspicious breaks as well. The Aztecs have done it before, but can they do it again? The chips are stacked against SDSU this time.
WHY THE UTES WILL WIN
Today, the Utes are the very best the PAC-12 has to offer (even if they didn’t beat the Gators). and they will be formidable. They have home field advantage, and will be outfitted in Ute Proud regalia for the payback. They have their act together on offense and defense.
Quarterback Cameron Rising has been handling the ball with tremendous care. In his last outing he threw for 254 yards, connecting on 17 of 23 attempts, and no picks. He’s been pretty solid in this season’s outings.
Tailback Chris Curry is is another factor. In his last game he carried 6 times for 60 yds, averaging 10.0 yds per carry against the Thunderbirds.
On defense, the Utes allowed an 11 for 23 completion percentage, but only gave up 42 yards in the process as they smothered the Thunderbirds. The Utes managed 598 yards on 71 plays.
The Utes are high scoring, currently sitting 9th in the country with 49.5 points per game. They average 284 passing yards per game, placing them 36th in the country, and they average163.0 rush yards per game (with 5 rushing touchdowns so far this season). They average 522.0 yards per game, placing them 11th in Division 1. The Utah offense is penalty prone, though.
The Utes have allowed 0 touchdowns this season from the passing game and 105.0 yards per game, which has them sitting 4th in the country. The Utes are giving up 18.0 PPG, which puts them 45th in Division 1.
Statistically, the Utes are tremendously dominant. The Utes, on paper, should statistically be capable of a decisive win.
WHY THE AZTECS WILL WIN
On further review of their season opener, field temperature at Snapdragon Stadium at peak did hit 120 degrees. That’s much hotter than media outlets recorded. The Aztecs were playing in dangerous conditions against the one team capable of handling such weather: the Arizona Wildcats.
In temperate conditions, the Aztecs will perform more like themselves. This could surprise the Utes, Utah fans, and sports media.
Braxton Burmeister played well in his last game, connecting on 15 of 26 with 108 yards passing and 1 touchdown. He also threw no picks. Jaylon Armstead was the Aztecs’ rushing leader with 5 carries for 96 yards (19.2 yds per attempt). In all, SDSU had 69 plays for 488 yds. The Aztecs ran the ball 43 times for 380 yards, averaging 8.7 yds per attempt.
In their last outing, the Aztecs defense allowed 80 yards rushing on 33 attempts, averaging 2.4 yards per rush allowed. On defense, San Diego State gave up 24 pass completions out of 40 attempts for 258 yds, a rate of 60.0%.
On the ground this season, SDSU averages 275.0 yards ranking them 4th in the nation. The Aztecs score an average of 29.0 points per game. If SDSU can focus on ground production, while handling the ball carefully, the offense could do very well in this match, while consuming chunks of game time.
Opposing teams are running for an average of 3.4 yards per run and 121.0 rushing yards per game on the season. In total, they have given up 242 yards via the running game in 2 outings. The Aztecs are ranked 67th in Division 1 in terms of team defense, conceding 22.5 PPG. Defensively, the Aztecs looked strong against the Bengals.
When the Aztecs stay true to their core competencies: ferocious defense, running back attack, and lights-out special teams: the magic happens.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
SDSU will be in hostile territory. The Utes will make it as uncomfortable for the Aztecs as possible. Fans will expect a decisive victory, and the Utes will be decked out in scarlet and black for spirit and possibly for subterfuge effect. The Aztecs might struggle to communicate if noise is loud enough, and must be prepared for all scenarios.
The Utes have the momentum of a Conference Championship and a fearsome rout against a soft foe. The Aztecs won twelve games last season and if 20 starters had not been out of their conference championship they might have been won it all. The Arizona loss was staggering, but the conditions were extreme. Don’t be surprised if the Aztecs do better than expected.
Utah will likely walk away with the win making this home-and-home series 1-1. That said: never, never, never count the Aztecs out.
Final Score: Aztecs 28, Utes 42