Utah State (5-5) vs. San Jose State (6-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:45 p.m. MST
Venue: Maverik Stadium (25,100 capacity)
Livestream: Fox Sports Live
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM
Series: Utah State trails San José State all-time, 19-20-1. The Aggies are 11-8 against the Spartans at home and have won the last nine games played between the two teams, including a 48-17 road win last year.
Weather: Temperatures in the low 20s with a negligible chance of rain and wind.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 5-5 overall after their victory over Hawaii. Utah State has a winning record in conference play (4-2) and has won back-to-back games and four of the last five, but is still battling to become bowl eligible after a rough non-conference slate. The Aggies now have a 44% chance of becoming bowl eligible, per ESPN, the best odds all season.
For San Jose State: The Spartans are 6-3 on the season and 4-2 in MW play. San Jose State looked, for a time, to be the team to beat in the West division of the conference, but losses to Fresno State and San Diego State leave SJSU with little chance of winning their division.
What to watch for
Which Utah State team shows up? Which version of San Jose State?
The Aggies and the Spartans have both been inconsistent this season, while remaining some of the best teams in the MW.
Both USU and SJSU are 4-2 in conference and have, at times, looked among the best the MW has to offer. San Jose State started the season 4-1, before dropping a game against Fresno State, then improved to 6-2 before falling to San Diego State last weekend.
The Aggies, meanwhile, started the year 1-4, but have since won four of their last five games, the most recent victory coming at Hawaii.
When on, the Spartans have looked capable of winning the conference, and boast a scoring offense that rates among the best in the MW, at No. 4 (SJSU’s scoring defense is also elite, coming in at No. 3).
The Aggies, meanwhile, don’t rate in the same class at San Jose State statistically, not when the entire season is taken into account. Since Cooper Legas took over at quarterback, however, the Aggies are unbeaten with a steadily improving offense and a more effective defense.
Utah State has had its most success when it is able to run the ball successfully and that is where they game will likely be decided, as San Jose State boasts the fourth-best rushing defense in the league.
Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall, DE, San Jose State:
Hall was the MW Defensive Player of the Year two seasons ago and Fehoko has a shot at the prize this year, giving the Spartans two of the best pass rushers in the conference.
Fehoko currently ranks No. 1 in the MW in tackles for loss (16.5) and second in sacks (8.0), and is SJSU’s second-leading tackler with 57. Hall, meanwhile, has 26 tackles, 6,5 sacks and an interception.
Together, they’ve wrecked havoc in opponents backfields.
“They’re dynamic on the D-line,” Utah State head coach Blake Anderson said. “They’re twitchy and dynamic — one of the best we saw last year and the guys that you’re talking about are back and play a lot of snaps.”
“The games I’ve watched them I think they have the ability to run the ball extremely well. ... The game that I’ve watched, the really big games, in tight games when they’ve won, they have run the ball well. They have a solid running back and they’re not afraid to run it. Their willingness to spread the ball around to everybody on the field, to me, works with that. I mean, they spread you out, they spread the ball around and the next thing you know you’ve got a light box and they pop you with counter or zone.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
“Well, I think they’re a team that’s really absolutely surging right now. You watch them play and just how much better they’ve gotten over the last couple of weeks, I think they’re a really good team. We know how good they are because they got after us a year ago. We’re going to their place, so it’s one of those things that when I looked at the schedule and I knew that we had road trips in November at San Diego State and at Utah State, I knew it was going to be a challenging two weeks. And so we’ve got to get ready to go..” — San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan
Utah State travels to Boise for its final game of the regular season, on Black Friday. A day later, on Nov. 26, San Jose State will take on Hawaii in the islands to close out the season.
Utah State schedule
Aug. 27 — Utah State 31, UConn 20
Sept. 3 — No. 1 Alabama 55, Utah State 0
Sept. 10 — Weber State 35, Utah State 7
Sept. 17 — BYE
Sept. 24 — UNLV 34, Utah State 24
Sept. 29 — No. 16 BYU 38, Utah State 26
Oct. 8 — Utah State 34, Air Force 27
Oct. 15 — Utah State 17, Colorado State 13
Oct. 22 — Wyoming 28, Utah State 14
Oct. 29 — BYE
Nov. 5 — Utah State 27, New Mexico 10
Nov. 12 — Utah State 41, Hawaii 34
Nov. 19 — Utah State vs. San José State
Nov. 25 — Utah State at Boise State