The bowl season kicks into high gear on Saturday, with the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl being one of the highlights. The game will be a battle between the Oregon State Beavers of the Pac-12 and the Utah State Aggies, the champions of the Mountain West. The Beavers are favored by seven points, with the over/under set at 67.5 points.
Obviously, this was a banner year for Utah State. The Aggies have won seven of their last eight games, including a dominating 46-13 win over San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship Game. They now have a chance to beat a Pac-12 team for the second time this year, as the Aggies opened the season with a win over Washington State.
As for the Beavers, they are excited to be playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2013. Oregon State had plenty of ups and downs this year, finishing 7-5 after losing three of its last five games. But the Beavers went unbeaten at home this year, including a win over Pac-12 champ Utah.
Take a Chance
The Oregon State offense averaged close to 33 points per game this season behind the steady play of quarterback Chance Nolan. The sophomore didn’t put up eye-popping numbers, but he was reliable, completing 63.5% of his passes with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions while only taking nine sacks all season.
Of course, the OSU offensive line deserves some credit, especially since they also helped pave the way for running back B.J. Baylor, who rushed for over 1,200 yards and averaged six yards per carry this year.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Beavers were a little Jekyll and Hyde, depending on whether they were at home or on the road. They gave up 33.7 points per game on the road and lost to two teams that didn’t get a bowl invitation.
While things were better at home, the Beavers also had just 16 sacks in 12 games this season, which is why they were so vulnerable when playing away from home.
Toss It Around
Utah State had one of the more overlooked passing attacks in the country this year, ranking 15th nationally in passing yards. Arkansas State transfer Logan Bonner put together an exceptional season, throwing for over 3,500 yards and 36 touchdown passes.
While Utah State’s running game leaves something to be desired, the Aggies have three receivers with at least 700 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, including Deven Thompkins, who led the way with 1,589 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, the Utah State defense made some positive strides late in the season. Outside of a puzzling loss to Wyoming, the Aggies held their last four opponents to 17 points or less, including their win over San Diego State. Much like Oregon State, the Aggies don’t have a standout pass rusher, although they had a lot of success stopping the run down the stretch.
We Come from the Mountains
The Mountain West champs are not to be overlooked in this game, even as touchdown underdogs. Given Oregon State’s shortcomings with the pass rush, Bonner is set up to have a big game and keep the Aggies close if the game turns into a shootout. Bet on Utah State to beat the seven-point spread and perhaps get a win.
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