After three straight wins to open the season followed up by back-to-back losses, the Aggies look to get back on track after a bye week. This week they go on the road to take on UNLV and look to move one win closer to bowl eligibility.

USU Rewind

Three straight wins over Washington State, North Dakota, and Air Force meant the Aggies started the season 3-0 for the first time since 1978. The win over Washington State was also the first road win over a Power 5 conference program in 50 years (Kansas State in 1971).

Since then though, losses to Boise State and BYU – at home nonetheless – have put the Aggies back in the losing column. A bye week gave the team a much-needed week off after a tough opening slate of games.

What Does UNLV Look Like?

They might be winless at 0-5, but the Rebels have had some close calls. A double-overtime loss to FCS Eastern Washington, eight-point loss to Fresno State, and touchdown loss to 6-0 Texas-San Antonio show that despite having a zero in the win column, UNLV can still compete and be close in games.

What the Aggies need to do to win

Shore Up Run Defense

As mentioned previously, the Aggies have issues of their own on defense, namely the run defense. Currently, USU is giving up 204.2 yards per game on the ground, ranking 115th in the nation. In other words, not a strong suit through five games.

In its last matchup vs. BYU, the Aggies cut the deficit to 27-20 in the fourth quarter before allowing a 67-yard run by Tyler Allgeier to the 1-yard line that ended in a touchdown two plays later. USU had seemed to seize the momentum of the game, and it all came crashing down just over one minute later because of poor run defense. The touchdown halted all the momentum and ended up being the nail in the coffin in a 34-20 loss.

Bluntly put, the Aggies have to step up on run defense throughout the remaining games to have a chance at a bowl invite, and maybe even a conference title game appearance.

Light It Up

While the Aggies have defensive issues of their own, UNLV is having its fair share of issues so far this season as well. Every team they have played has scored at least 24 points on them, including four over 30.

Their biggest weakness is that they give up 299.8 yards per game through the air, meaning USU should have its way with the secondary, especially considering the NFL talent of Devon Thompkins leading the Aggies receiving corps. If Logan Bonner can be on target with his deep throws, Utah State will run all over the Rebels’ defense.

Prediction: Utah State 35, UNLV 30 

This is actually hard for me to call. Everyone seems to favor USU by at least a touchdown, but I worry about coming off a bye week potentially underestimating a winless team that’s played multiple close games. With that being said, I’ll still take Utah State (albeit closer than expected), where I think the Aggies can score at will against a weak defensive team.

The Aggies and Rebels kick off at 5 p.m. MT on Saturday, October 16. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

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