UConn at Utah State: NCAAF Best Bets For Week 0

Odds, best bets and analysis for this college football matchup

Fresh off of an 11-3 (6-2 Mountain West) campaign that concluded with a 24-13 victory over Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented By Stifel, the Utah State Aggies will host the UConn Huskies in their Week 0 season-opener on August 27th. The Huskies are coming off of an abysmal 1-11 year that included losses to FCS Holy Cross and perennial joke UMass with their lone six-point win coming against FCS Yale. The Aggies are favored by over four touchdowns in this contest, but you still might be able to find an edge. 

Check out our best bets below and keep reading to get insight on each team along with a prediction (that may or may not match the model’s projection).

Fresh off of an 11-3 (6-2 Mountain West) campaign that concluded with a 24-13 victory over Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented By Stifel, the Utah State Aggies will host the UConn Huskies in their Week 0 season-opener on August 27th. The Huskies are coming off of an abysmal 1-11 year that included losses to FCS Holy Cross and perennial joke UMass with their lone six-point win coming against FCS Yale. The Aggies are favored by over four touchdowns in this contest, but you still might be able to find an edge. 

Check out our best bets below and keep reading to get insight on each team along with a prediction (that may or may not match the model’s projection).

UConn Huskies

New Huskies head coach Jim Mora is aware that his new job is a long-term rebuilding project and the plus for him is that you can’t really get much worse than UConn was last season. As mentioned above, they lost to two opponents that they should have beaten (on paper), barely beat Yale and had a very tough time competing before and after Randy Edsall was fired. Overall, they scored just 13.8 points per game (128th out of 130 FBS teams), had a -27.1 average scoring differential (129th), averaged 260.2 total yards per game (127th), allowed an average of 40.9 points per contest (124th) and 476.3 total yards per game (118th). It was that ugly.

Lou Spanos, who took over as the interim coach after Edsall got the axe, will somewhat surprisingly return as Defensive Coordinator for the Huskies while former Maine head coach Nick Charlton will take the reins on the other side of the ball as the new Offensive Coordinator. Overall, this is not just an on-field rebuild for Mora, but a true program-wide rebuild that will require buy-in from recruits, the school and fans. 

Luckily for Mora and the Huskies, they will actually have some playmakers to lean on. Sophomore running back Nathan Carter has been named to the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award (best college RB) after carrying the ball 125 times for 578 yards (4.6 yards per carry) with two touchdowns as a freshman. He also had 19 catches for 127 yards and should be heavily utilized behind a new-look offensive line that now includes Alabama transfer Dayne Shor and UTEP transfer Tres Barboza. It might be impossible for the o-line to be worse than last season. 

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Wide receiver Cameron Ross will also be back after suffering a season-ending injury just two games into last year. He has 60 catches for 723 yards as a true freshman in 2019 and should be the clear go-to receiver for whoever starts at quarterback, which is the main question mark right now. With Tyler Phommachanh still recovering from an ACL injury, I expect Penn State transfer (and former No. 4 QB recruit out of New Jersey in the Class of 2019 by ESPN) Ta’Quan Roberson to win the job for this matchup. If he does, this could be the most anticipated QB start that this program has had in quite some time. And it’d be hard to imagine that the Huskies would do worse than the 4.04 yards per play (2nd-worst) and 0.93 points per drive (2nd-worst) that they averaged last season. With Roberson under center, I expect a more modern-day offense to be installed, with designed runs from the QB, RPO plays and more creativity.

Defensively, it’s easy to assume that Connecticut will struggle. Linebacker Jackson Mitchell is a future NFL player and recorded 120.0 total tackles last season (16th in the nation), and the team added linebacker Marquez Bembry from Kentucky and Sokoya McDuffie from Old Dominion on that side of the ball, both of which should be instant contributors. However, while this team fought hard under Spanos last year, they simply couldn’t compete on the defensive side of the ball due to the overall lack of talent. They’re going to struggle to contain Utah State’s offense in this particular matchup.

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Utah State Aggies 

Unfortunately for UConn, most of Utah State’s key contributors will be back in 2022. In fact, they’ll return 12 starters (seven on offense, five on defense) and 32 letterwinners from last year’s 11-win roster. Not only that, but they’ll welcome 13 four-year transfers, which will add even more veteran depth. Last season, the Aggies became the first FBS team to ever go from zero or one win (one in 2020) to 11 or more wins (11 in 2021) in one season and they were also the first FBS team in seven years to go 7-0 on the road. As a whole, the team set 10 different team records in what was a stellar turnaround. Hey, there’s a bit of inspiration for UConn, right?

The Aggies scored 31.4 points per game (34th), had a +6.9 point average scoring differential and put up 435.3 total yards per game (31st) last year. Defensively, they surrendered 24.5 points per game (42nd) and 389.2 yards per contest (66th). To close out the season, Utah State allowed 13 or fewer points in three straight games for the first time since 1983. Per The Deseret News, defensive end Daniel Grzesiak (Nevada), inside linebacker MJ Tafisi (Washington), safety Gurvan Hall (Miami) and outside linebacker Anthony Switzer (Arkansas State) are the defensive transfers who will contribute right away and have looked strong in the spring and over the summer.

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However, the two main names to know are senior quarterback Logan Bonner and senior running back Calvin Tyler Jr. Bonner, a former Arkansas State transfer, set five different school records for Utah State in 2021, including passing yards (3,628) and touchdown passes (36) and has been named to the Davey O’Brien Award (best QB) watch list and the Maxwell Award (best college player) watch list before the season. Meanwhile, Tyler, a former Oregon State transfer, rushed for 884 yards with seven touchdowns in his first season for the Aggies last year, including four 100-plus rushing efforts. He’s been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. Expect both of these upperclassmen to have huge games and put up numbers, especially with this essentially serving as a tune-up for Alabama in their next game.

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UConn-Utah State Prediction

I expect Bonner to throw for 350-plus yards, Tyler to rush for 150-plus yards and the Aggies to have no issue taking control of this game on their home field, essentially doing whatever they want offensively. Last year, they operated with a very balanced attack on offense and should do so here as well. While UConn made a splashy hire with Mora, they are still years away from competing against a quality opponent like this. Utah State should win big and I'm very comfortable with them all the way to the -31 to -34 range. I'd be shocked if this wasn't an utter blowout.

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