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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles vs. Utah State Aggies

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (0-2) v Utah State Aggies (1-1)

NCAA FB: Thursday, September 13, 2018, @ 8 pm (Maverik Stadium, Logan, Utah)

Odds: Tennessee Tech v Utah State -44

FREE NCAA FB PICK: Tennessee Tech v Utah State

The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles and the Utah State Aggies meet up in a classic “easy schedule” game on Thursday. The Golden Eagles look for the upset and their first win of the season. The two teams square off for the first time ever.

Tennessee Tech

The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles have gotten off to a slow start to begin the season. And by a slow start, I mean they have been shellacked in both games they have played. Tennessee Tech dropped each of their first games by a combined score of 83-20.

The Golden Eagle offense has failed to take off so far. In two games, they are averaging 337.5 yards of total offense per game. This puts them in 193rd in the country. The passing game, with 180.5 yards per game, sits in 186th. The run game has been their best weapon, and even that sits in 139th with 157 yards per game. Bailey Fisher has looked like a freshman, completing 51.8 percent of his passes with three interceptions.

Defensively, the Golden Eagles have been even worse. Their front seven has gotten pushed around in their first two games, giving up 322 yards of rushing per game. Opponents have not had to rely on an aerial attack because Tennessee Tech’s front has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Granted, most of the damage on the rushing came in their last game against Kennesaw State, where the Owls’ triple-option offense was able to rack up 507 yards on the ground. But even against Chattanooga, the Golden Eagles struggled to stop the run.

Utah State

The Utah State Aggies dropped their first game of the season to Michigan State, but they showed that they can hang around with tough opponents. Utah State would use that momentum to thrash New Mexico State in their next game, 60-13.

The Aggies do a better job of keeping drives alive by throwing the ball. While they may not be throwing for a ton of yards (245.5 YPG in their first two matchups), 26 of their 39 first downs have come through the air. In comparison, they have run for 149.5 YPG and 13 first downs. Even though they like to throw the ball to move the chains, Utah State is more likely to run the ball when it comes to scoring touchdowns. Aggie rushers have broken the plane on six separate occasions, with Darwin Thompson chipping in three of them. Meanwhile, Jordan Love has tossed just one touchdown while getting picked off three times.

It’s not fair to say Utah State can’t play defense. The Aggies have held their opponents to 137 YPG rushing and to just two touchdowns so far. On top of that, the front seven is only giving up 3.1 yards per carry. There are, of course, a few knocks that you can put on this team. The biggest one is that they give up too many touchdowns through the air. None of these touchdowns were necessarily off of big plays, but when you allow your opponents to score through the air that causes problems later in the game.

FREE NCAA FB PICK: Tennessee Tech v Utah State

Before I get into the pick, I want to point out one weakness that Utah State has that Tennessee Tech needs to exploit in order to win this game. That weakness comes on third down. The Aggies have allowed their opponents to convert 50 percent of the time. This has forced their defense to stay on the field longer than necessary, leaving them drained by the end of the game. If the Golden Eagles can exploit this, they have a chance.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s get into the pick. This is a classic FBS v FCS matchup where one team should get an easy win, and the other team gets a nice paycheck to show up and get their butts kicked. Obviously, things don’t always work out that way. Heck, the University of Maine, my alma mater, pulled out a 31-28 victory over Western Kentucky last week. So it’s safe to say that nothing is ever guaranteed.

That being said, the Aggies have the upper hand with the level of competition that they have played. Yes, they have played a bad team (and I mean a dumpster fire) in New Mexico State, but they also had a Power Five opponent. Down the stretch, they’ll have Boise State, a team ranked in the Top 25. Utah State has been battle tested, while Tennessee Tech is getting in way over their heads.

Pick: Utah State

Adam Darling
Adam Darling
A New Englander transplanted to the Deep South, Adam goes all over the map for his teams. He recently finished his degree in journalism and history at the University of Maine and has featured on Eastern Bias and Casual Hoya to discuss Black Bear hockey and basketball. He hosted his own baseball talk show for WMEB 91.9 FM and has written and edited for The Maine Campus.