San Diego State vs. Fresno State: Three Keys to a Bulldogs Win
What can the Bulldogs do to get back on track against the Aztecs? Here’s our preview of what to watch for.
The West division is still up for grabs.
WEEK 12: San Diego State Aztecs (7-3, 4-2 Mountain West) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (8-2, 5-1 MW)
WHEN: Saturday, November 17 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, California (40,727)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: SlingTV – Get a 7-day free trial.
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found in and around Fresno on the Central Valley’s local ESPN Radio affiliates: 940 (in English) and 1600 (in Spanish) AM.
SERIES RECORD: San Diego State leads the series 29-24-4. In the last meeting on October 21, 2017, the Bulldogs defeated the Aztecs, 27-3, in San Diego.
FOOTBALL STUDY HALL STAT PROFILES: link
After falling out of the College Football rankings on Tuesday, the Fresno State Bulldogs will need to get ready for another tough battle at home against the San Diego State Aztecs.
The Oil Can is on the line once again, but Rocky Long’s team has been much more unpredictable than in years past. It’s still very much a run-and-defend Aztecs team, but they have now played eight straight games decided by eight points or fewer, so there’s not much reason to expect anything other than a back-and-forth affair on Saturday night.
Here’s what Fresno State can do to beat San Diego State.
Three Keys to a Fresno State Win
Buckle down against the run.
After Alexander Mattison took over in the second half of last week’s game in Boise, the Bulldogs won’t have it any easier against a healthy Juwan Washington. The junior’s return has provided the offense with a shot in the arm, as he’s averaged five yards per carry in the last two weeks.
The run game on the whole, however, presents some opportunity for Fresno State. SDSU’s Stuff Rate, the percentage of plays stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage, is 22.5%, 109th in the country, and the linebacker trio of Jeffrey Allison, James Bailey and George Helmuth, while sporting a Havoc Rate of just 3.7%, had a huge hand in shutting down this same running game a year ago.
Make the Aztecs pay for rotating quarterbacks.
Christian Chapman’s return to form hasn’t meant playing full time for some reason, but this also represents a potential advantage for Fresno State. The Aztecs offensive line isn’t nearly as good in pass protection as Boise State, with an overall sack rate allowed of 9.4% (115th nationally) and a Passing Downs sack rate of 11.9% (112th).
Ryan Agnew has remained an adventure under center and has taken five sacks in the last two weeks against New Mexico and UNLV, two teams you would not claim have vaunted pass rushes. If someone like Mykal Walker or Jasad Haynes erupts for multiple sacks, don’t be surprised, but it’s more likely to happen with Agnew at quarterback.
Keep tabs on Kahale Warring.
You could make a decent argument that the Aztecs’ junior tight end has been their steadiest pass catcher, and he’s received a lot of work recently because of it. He leads SDSU with 43 targets, which includes at least six apiece in each of the last three games.
Warring has responded to the increased workload quite well, averaging 13 yards per catch over those same three games. Tim Wilson will miss the game and Fred Trevillion’s status is up in the air at the moment, so stopping Warring will pay dividends.