Utah State football Ranks fifth in the nation in rushing defense

Utah State safety Brian Suite (21) tackles Hawaii running back Steven Lakalaka (4) in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in Honolulu, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

LOGAN, Utah – Following the 10th week of the college football season, Utah State now ranks among the top 40 teams in the nation in 20 different statistical categories, including ranking fifth in the nation in rushing defense.

Defensively, Utah State is allowing just 90.0 rushing yards per game to rank first in the Mountain West and fifth in the nation, trailing Penn State (77.1 ypg), Alabama (78.1 ypg), Louisville (78.7 ypg) and Boston College (88.9 ypg). Utah State also ranks first in the MW and is tied with Washington for second in the nation in sacks (4.11 pg), trailing only Utah (4.88 pg). Furthermore, USU ranks second in the MW and tied for 25th nationally in scoring defense (21.0 ppg), second in the MW and 29th nationally in passing efficiency defense (113.2), third in the MW and 39th in the nation in total defense (355.2 ypg), and 11th in the MW and 104th nationally in passing defense (265.2 ypg).

Utah State’s defense also ranks first in the Mountain West and tied for second nationally with its 25 forced turnovers, trailing TCU (26) and tied with Florida International, Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss. USU ranks first in the MW and tied for fourth nationally with its 15 interceptions, trailing Ole Miss (18), Louisville (18) and Louisiana Tech (16), and tied with Houston and TCU. USU ranks first in the MW and tied for fifth in the nation in turnover margin (1.33 pg), trailing TCU (1.88 pg), Georgia (1.63 pg), Michigan State (1.50 pg) and Ball State (1.38 pg), and tied with Ole Miss and Oregon. USU also ranks second in the MW and tied for 10th nationally with its 10 fumble recoveries.

Furthermore, Utah State ranks first in the Mountain West and third in the nation with an average of 8.9 tackles for loss per game, trailing only Clemson (9.8 pg) and Utah (9.1 pg), first in the MW and tied for third nationally with its four defensive touchdowns, trailing Washington (7) and Temple (6), and tied with Florida International, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Texas, Ole Miss, Syracuse, UCLA and Western Kentucky, and ninth in the nation in three-and-outs as it is averaging 5.78 per game. And USU ranks third in the MW and 29th in the nation in opponents third down conversations at 34.5 percent (51-148).

Offensively, Utah State ranks fifth in the Mountain West and 76th in the nation in scoring at 27.6 points per game. USU also ranks fourth in the MW and 29th in the nation in completion percentage (.628), fourth in the MW and 39th in the nation in passing efficiency (141.2), fifth in the MW and 60th in the nation in passing offense (238.6 ypg), sixth in the MW and tied for 46th in the nation in sacks allowed (1.78 pg), eighth in the MW and 74th in the nation in total offense (387.7 ypg), and ninth in the MW and tied for 82nd nationally in rushing offense (149.1 ypg).

On special teams, Utah State ranks third in the Mountain West and 18th nationally in punt return defense (3.71 ypr) and fifth in the MW and 33rd in the nation in kickoff return defense (19.17 ypr). USU also ranks fifth in the MW and 22nd in the nation with its two blocked kicks, sixth in the MW and 66th in the nation in net punting (37.5 ypk), sixth in the MW and 79th in the nation in kickoff returns (19.8 ypr), and ninth in the MW and 96th nationally in punt returns (5.6 ypr).

Utah State players who rank among the statistical leaders in the Mountain West and in the nation includes sophomore LB Nick Vigil who ranks first in the MW and tied for third in the nation in fumbles forced (0.50 pg), third in the MW and tied for 27th in the nation in tackles for loss (1.38 pg), tied for third in the MW and tied for 35th in the nation in sacks (0.69 pg), and fourth in the MW and tied for 30th in the nation in tackles (9.5 pg). Senior LB Zach Vigil ranks first in the MW and tied for 10th in the nation in tackles for loss (1.56 pg), second in the MW and tied for 16th in the nation in tackles (10.7 pg), and second in the MW and tied for 30th in the nation in sacks (0.72 pg). Sophomore FS Devin Centers ranks first in the MW and tied for third in the nation in fumbles recovered (0.33 pg), and 31st in the MW in tackles (5.9 pg). Senior SS Frankie Sutera ranks tied for second in the MW and tied for fourth nationally in interceptions (0.70 pg), sixth in the MW in passes defended (0.89 pg), and tied for 44th in the MW in tackles (5.1 pg). Junior WR Hunter Sharp ranks second in the MW and 17th in the nation in receiving touchdowns (7), second in the MW and tied for 25th in the nation in receiving yards (87.9 pg), tied for sixth in the MW and tied for 51st in the nation in receptions (5.4 pg), and eighth in the MW and 80th in the nation in all-purpose yards (107.0 pg). Junior WR/PR JoJo Natson ranks tied for first in the MW and tied for seventh in the nation with one punt return for touchdown and sixth in the MW and 44th in the nation in punt returns (7.9 ypr). Senior DE B.J. Larsen ranks fifth in the MW and tied for 41st in the nation in sacks (0.67 pg), and eighth in the MW in tackles for loss (1.00 pg). Freshman CB Jalen Davis ranks 10th in the MW in passes defended (0.78 pg). Junior LB LT Filiaga ranks 26th in the MW in tackles (6.3 pg). Senior FS Brian Suite ranks 50th in the MW in tackles (4.9 pg). Sophomore RB Kennedy Williams ranks fifth in the MW and 76th nationally in kickoff return average (20.9 ypr). Senior P Jaron Bentrude ranks eighth in the MW and 71st in the nation in punting (40.8 ypk). And senior PK Nick Diaz ranks third in the MW and tied for 29th in the nation in field goal percentage (.818), tied for seventh in the MW and tied for 65th in the nation in field goals (1.00 pg), and eighth in the MW in scoring among kickers (6.2 ppg).

Utah State (6-3, 3-1 MW) continues Mountain West play this weekend at Wyoming (4-5, 2-3 MW) on Friday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN2. USU is 36-24-4 all-time against the Cowboys, including a 12-14-3 road record, and has won each of the last two meetings in the series.

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