by Daniel Olsen
While the Utah State Aggies struggled in 2020, they have a new coach and new expectations in 2021. It’s time to pull out the crystal ball and see just how this football season turn out for USU. With the kickoff of this game being two days away, it’s time to start with the preview of a Mountain West Conference matchup against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
2020-2021 Season in Review
While USU struggled with just one win in 2020, Hawaii had a 5-4 record and defeated the Houston Cougars in the New Mexico Bowl. They have had a habit of defeating Cougar teams in bowl games lately as they defeated BYU in the 2019 Hawaii Bowl.
Hawaii is off to a 4-4 start and fighting for the chance to go bowling again. Their biggest win over this year was an upset over the #18 ranked Fresno State Bulldogs. They will be looking to get a win over the top team in the Mountain Division: the Utah State Aggies.
Hawaii is a two-headed monster as they pass slightly more than they run. When they rush over 200 yards, they are 4-0. When they don’t, they are winless. The Aggies need to keep this in mind as they try to force the visitors to be a one-dimensional team.
Hawaii splits the backfield rushing duties evenly between three guys: Dae Dae Hunter, Dedrick Parson and Calvin Turner Jr. All three have over 200 yards rushing with Hunter leading the way at 558 with an impressive 7.2 yards per carry.
On the defensive side, they usually win when they force a large amount of turnovers. They held a 6-1 turnover advantage in their win over Fresno State.
Chevan Cordeiro, their dual-threat QB, is just five yards shy of the 200 yard rushing mark. He is a better runner than passer as he completes just 54 percent of his throws. He has also given away seven interceptions.
Both teams have strong offenses yet also have weaker defenses. The key to winning this game will be the defense that shows up and has the most stops in the red zone. The winner of the turnover battle will also have a great chance to win as well.
The Aggies seem to have gotten lucky as they have had close calls in all wins over FBS opponent. Even their FCS win required them to come down from an early double-digit deficit. This also means they have been clutch, which is something that couldn’t be said about the team in past years.
The Aggies are on their home field. It will be a 1 p.m. MST kickoff. This will provide plenty of time for kids to get home in time for trick or treating. This is the annual Junior Aggie game, so fans should get their kids signed up to run in the halftime stampede and get their gift bags from the USU Athletic Department on the South Concourse. The Junior Aggie Kids Club is free for all kids under three, and they each receive a welcome package.
The Aggies are slight favorites. If they do the little things to win this game, they will keep the momentum going in the title hunt. They should also root for San Jose State to beat Wyoming and Colorado State to beat Boise this weekend. This would slim the chances even more of the Broncos winning the Mountain Division again.
Pick the Aggies to win, but in another close one. Don’t be surprised if this game goes to overtime. That statement double-digit win likely won’t come until next week when they head to Las Cruces to face the other Aggies of New Mexico State.
Score Prediction: USU 35 Hawaii 34
Featured image courtesy Salt Lake Tribune