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Utah State Aggies vs. Nevada Wolfpack Betting Picks and Predictions

05 November 2020

NCAAF Picks Austyn Varney
Date:Thursday, November 5th
Time:7:00 PM ET
Network:FS1
Venue:Clarence Mackay Stadium
Spread:Nevada -17.5
O/U:56

The 0-2 Utah State Aggies will go on the road Thursday night to face off with the 2-0 Nevada Wolfpack at 7:00 PM ET in Clarence Mackey Stadium. You can tune in on FS1 or ESPN3. The Wolfpack come in 17.5-point home favorites and we’re looking at a 56 over/under. It’s been a very different season for these two squads, as Utah State struggled mightily while Nevada has looked superb. The line has grown nearly three points since it opened, and the public is on Nevada big time. Let’s dive into how this one will go and who will end up covering the spread. If you’re looking for my best bets, check out the rest of this week’s CFB Predictions.

Trends

  • Utah State is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • Nevada is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Utah State’s last 5 games on the road.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Nevada’s last 9 games.

When The Utah State Aggies Have The Ball

It’s been a rough start to the season for the Aggies, dropping their first two games by a combined score of 80-20. The level of competition has been high, but the Aggies have been a no-show in both contests and there hasn’t been much to take away from either side of the ball. They’ve turned it over more times than they’ve scored and have allowed nearly 500 yards of offense on average. They’re big underdogs once again and will be looking to avoid their third straight blowout to the Nevada Wolfpack. 

The Aggies have run the ball more than they’ve thrown it, and four different guys have rushed it 10+ times. Jaylen Warren leads the way with 23 carries for 89 yards and two TDs. Devonta’e Henry-Cole and Elelyon Noa haven’t been productive to this point, but they’ve each run it 13 times and the yards will come in closer games. The Aggies must get Warren the ball early if they want to keep this game close. He’s their best offensive player and is the key to success for Utah State offensively. 

Junior QB Jason Shelley hasn’t been great, completing just 56% of his passes for 180 yards, a TD, and two interceptions. He’s run it another 14 times for 26 yards. Shelley is the engine of this offense and he’ll have to be a lot better if Utah State wants to remain competitive in ballgames. The offensive line isn’t the greatest, so Shelley must navigate the pocket and find his weapons down the field. It won’t be easy against Nevada, who has a few guys on the edge that will be hunting for sacks. 

When Shelley drops back, he has two main targets. Deven Thompkins (11 rec, 92 yds, TD) mans the slot and is an electric athlete. Shelley prefers to throw it over the middle of the field and Thompkins has the stickiest hands on the team. He’s dangerous after the catch as well and is a lot better than most slot targets in the RZ. Justin McGriff (8 rec, 56 yds) lives on the outside and should get some more looks as the chemistry grows. Shelley just has to do a better job of delivering the ball accurately to these guys, as they are dangerous with the ball in their hands.

When The Nevada Wolfpack Have The Ball

The season has gone exactly opposite for the Nevada Wolfpack, winning their first two games of the season and looking excellent in both. It started with an extremely close 37-34 win over the Wyoming Cowboys that was followed up with a 37-19 win over UNLV. They’re averaging 37 points per game and have impressed on both sides of the ball early on. 

It starts with QB Carson Strong, who’s completing over 75% of his passes for 770 yards and six touchdowns. He hasn’t turned the ball over to this point and has played close to perfect two weeks into the season. He’s a strong-armed pocket passer that is comfortable driving the ball down the field. The Wolfpack have thrown it 80 times already, so expect them to come out aggressive through the air against a Utah State defense that has struggled. 

While Strong is the backbone of this offense under center, it’s WR Romeo Doubs that makes the most happen. He’s on NFL radars for a reason, and you’ll know why if you watch this game. The 6’2 junior has already caught 19 balls for 336 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolfpack move Doubs around well and he’s effective from anywhere, whether it be deep on the sideline or short over the middle. Tight end Cole Turner (11 rec, 191, 2 TD) is a massive target and Strong’s security blanket. He’s extremely sure-handed and will see a ton of targets in this game if Utah State pays too much attention to Doubs. Melquan Stovan and Justin Lockhart start at WR as well and both have caught eight-plus balls through two games. Against this secondary, I expect Strong to throw for another 300+ yards and these pass-catchers will have plenty of fun. 

They want to open up the run with the pass, but that doesn’t mean this offense can run it down your throat. The offensive line is experienced and work together well as a unit. Devonte Lee is starting his second year at HB for Nevada and he’s rushed for 110 yards and a TD. Toa Taua has only rushed it 12 times, but he’s averaged seven yards per carry and he’ll get a few more opportunities moving forward. Again, this team wants to open everything up with the pass. Lee has caught six balls already and is a threat to catch it out of the backfield as an outlet. 

Spread Prediction

The Wolfpack are the much better team in every facet right now and they’ll continue to enforce their will for the third consecutive game. The Aggies have been a mess defensively, allowing 40 points per game and nearly 500 yards of offense. The Nevada offense is no joke and the QB play of Carson Strong has been nothing short of phenomenal. The play-calling of Nevada is also elite, and they’re a great team to watch as a bettor.

Nevada will continue to push the pace and they will throw the ball until they’re up by 40. Their schedule only gets tougher from here, so do not expect the coaching staff to let up as this team needs as much playing time together as they can get. Romeo Doubs is one of the best players in all of CFB and he’ll ultimately be the difference-maker when Nevada has the ball. He simply cannot be stopped by this secondary. Give me Nevada all the way up to three touchdowns.

The Pick: Nevada -17.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Total Prediction

I’m not a huge fan of betting this total and would rather ride with Nevada. The Utah State offense has some upside, but they haven’t been able to put it together to this point. Jason Shelley has left a lot to be desired from the QB position and it’s hard to make up for when Utah State is used to being able to throw the ball around the yard. Nevada has looked better than expected and the connection between Strong and Doubs is a scary one. I expect Nevada to control this game from the start and to put up close to 40 points themselves. I just don’t trust Utah State to do enough to reach this number. Give me the under, but I would rather bet the spread.

The Pick: Under 56

Final Score Prediction: Nevada 37, Utah State 17

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

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