Fresno State vs Utah State Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Aggies Bring Fight to Hobbled Buldogs

Fresno State's looking to repeat as MWC champs, but Week 7 brings a tough road matchup against a capable squad while nursing key injuries. See if our college football picks think the Bulldogs have enough left in the tank.

JD Yonke - Contributor at
JD Yonke • Contributor
Oct 13, 2023 • 16:56 ET • 4 min read
Utah State Aggies NCAAF
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Friday night football — isn’t it great?

The Mountain West Conference delivers the hype when the Fresno State Bulldogs (5-1) look to bounce back after their first loss of the season as they hit the road tonight to battle the Utah State Aggies (3-3). 

This game's storylines run deep, feautring each of the last two teams to win the conference championship — Blake Anderson’s Aggies won in 2021, while Jeff Tedford’s Bulldogs captured glory a year ago. 

The Bulldogs are dealing with some injuries heading into this contest, and it’s a tough schedule spot as well — could the college football odds underdog be live in Logan?

Read on for my best bet and free college football picks and predictions for Fresno State vs. Utah State on October 13. 

Fresno State vs Utah State best odds

Fresno State vs Utah State picks and predictions

Jeff Tedford’s Fresno State Bulldogs began the season on a 5-0 tear before suffering their first defeat a week ago, losing 24-19 to the Wyoming Cowboys. They struggled to get much going offensively against Wyoming’s tough defense, managing 324 total yards on 4.9 yards per play. For a team that has aspirations of winning the conference championship for a second straight year, it’s imperative to bounce back on a short week for road game number two in a row.

Fresno State will be without star cornerback Cameron Lockridge for the rest of the season after he missed the last two games with a pectoral muscle injury that has since been deemed serious enough to keep him on the sidelines for the entirety of the schedule. It’s a big loss considering he’s arguably the MWC’s best corner. Carlton Johnson has done a fine job at one corner spot with a 76.1 coverage grade per PFF, but Alzillion Hamilton has struggled in lieu of Lockridge with just a 57.2 coverage grade.

Quarterback Mikey Keene was removed from last week’s game against Wyoming after twisting his ankle in the fourth quarter and his status for this contest is uncertain. He’s been one of the MWC’s best signal-callers this season, completing 68.5% of his passes for 1,692 yards and 15 touchdowns with four interceptions. If he’s unable to go, Logan Fife (four touchdowns, eight interceptions in his career) will get the start. 

Leading wide receiver Erik Brooks is also banged up — he was in a walking boot last week during practice and tried to give it a go against Wyoming, but has just two catches for nine yards. 

Utah State has been all over the place over the last three years. After breaking out for 11 wins and a conference championship in Year 1 under Blake Anderson in 2021, the Aggies regressed to finish with a losing record of 6-7 a year ago. They’re back at .500 ball this year, although one positive note is that the three losses have come to teams with a combined record of 15-1. 

Another positive is that the offense is clicking. After mustering just 22.2 PPG a season ago, the Aggies have exploded for 38.2 PPG on 462.8 total yards per game and 6.6 yards per play. That’s more of what you expect to see from an Anderson-coached team, and they’ve been effective despite two quarterbacks (Cooper Legas, McCae Hillstead) seeing the field. Hillstead suffered a concussion against the UConn Huskies two weeks ago and his status is uncertain for this matchup, but Legas has averaged 8.6 yards per attempt on the year and could be named the starter regardless of the true freshman’s availability.

Legas is coming off arguably his best career game, throwing for 387 yards and four touchdowns on just 29 attempts against the Colorado State Rams. This offense is clicking, averaging at least 5.0 yards per play in every game other than its opener against Iowa — when it still managed a decent 4.6 yards per play against one of the country’s best defenses. 

There’s no way that I can lay the points with Fresno State in this spot. The Bulldogs will be without their best defensive player for the rest of the season and that looms large against a potent Aggies aerial assault averaging 296 passing yards per game. Their starting quarterback and best wide receiver are both banged up and are not practicing as of Tuesday of game week, leaving serious doubts about their availability. This marks the second straight road game for a banged-up team that also happens to be playing on a short week, which comes at a very inopportune time for Tedford’s squad. 

Give me Utah State plus the points. 

My best bet: Utah State +5.5 (-110 at bet365)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.

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Fresno State vs Utah State same-game parlay

Utah State +5.5 (-110)
Utah State TT Over 25.5 (-115)
Malik Sherrod Anytime TD (+105)

If Utah State is going to cover this spread, it’s highly likely that it will score over 25.5 points — so I’ll add that as a correlated SGP leg to my best bet. The Aggies have been a force offensively, taking care of business against poor opposition (591 total yards on 8.6 yards per play against Idaho State, 416 total yards on 7.4 yards per play against UConn, and 639 total yards on 7.6 yards per play against Colorado State) while performing admirably against tougher defenses. Heck, they even dropped 500 total yards on 6.3 yards per play against a good James Madison defense that hasn’t allowed 400 yards in a game to any other opponent. 

The last leg that I’ll add will be Fresno State running back Malik Sherrod to score a touchdown at +105 odds, which brings the final SGP odds out to +105. If Utah State is doing all this scoring, then I expect Fresno State to find the end zone as well, and I’d expect Sherrod to continue dominating the RB usage and see an uptick in usage with either a banged-up Keene or a backup Fife under center. This Aggies defense has allowed nearly 1,000 rushing yards (994) to go along with 13 rushing touchdowns already this year. 

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Fresno State vs Utah State spread and Over/Under analysis

There’s been a bit of line movement in favor of Utah State. After opening as a touchdown underdog at +7, the Aggies have moved to +5.5 at current. The total has also come in a bit, dropping from 61.5 at open to 57.5 at current.

I’ve already touched on my preferred side, so let me take a minute to get into the numbers when examining this total. 

Fresno State has been solid offensively, ranking 41st in EPA per play and 40th in success rate. It’s been especially effective passing the ball (17th in passing success rate) and ideally should be able to do so here against a moribund Utah State secondary ranking 101st in EPA per pass and 104th in passing success rate. The status of Keene and Brooks raises more uncertainty than the numbers show, however. 

Utah State has been a wagon offense, managing 462.8 total yards per game despite already facing three defenses (Iowa, Air Force, James Madison) allowing less than 350 yards per game. For every single opponent they’ve faced, the Aggies have been able to produce above what that opponent’s defense is averaging on a per-game basis. In other words, they continually outdo expectations and have aced every single test thus far. 

Look for Utah State to attempt some deep shots here against a Lockridge-less secondary. The Aggies rank 26th in explosiveness and 14th in passing explosiveness, whereas the Bulldogs check in at 51st in explosiveness and 54th in passing explosiveness on the defensive end. 

I fancy the Over as I’m trusting this Aggies offense until given reason to think otherwise, whereas I still have some reserve about the defensive side of the ball. Utah State is 5-0 O/U in its last five games.

Fresno State vs Utah State betting trend to know

Utah State is 5-1 ATS in its last six games in Logan. Find more college football betting trends for Fresno State vs Utah State.

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Fresno State vs Utah State game info

Location: Merlin Olsen Field, Logan, UT
Date: Friday, October 13, 2023
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. ET

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