San Diego State Aztecs Football: Keys to an Aztec Victory Against Fresno State
Aztecs and Bulldogs are fighting for the West.
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The Aztecs look to take home the Oil Can.
San Diego State (7-3, 4-2 MW) takes on Fresno State (8-2, 5-1 MW) on Saturday night in this iteration of the Battle for the Oil Can. Where Fresno in which Fresno State can solidify their place in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game.
Head-to-head San Diego State leads the series all-time at 16-10, but Fresno State has been 4-2 since joining the Mountain West. This series has been decided by 10+ points since Fresno State joined the Mountain West. Only in 2013 was a game decided by a touchdown.
San Diego State currently sits behind Fresno State and Nevada in the West division and don’t control their own destiny going into Saturday night. The game has more value for a San Diego State team looking for revenge and a pathway into the championship game. Let’s see how San Diego State can win one in Fresno.
Offensive Line Play
The San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that starting offensive linemen Tyler Roemer and Keith Ismael are out for the game at Fresno State. Ismael is in concussion protocol, while Roemer out for violating team rules. It’s uncertain that Roemer will see the field again in 2018.
In what was to be a strength for the Aztecs, this season had been a bust for the offensive line. With injuries plaguing the line, starters have rotated out for underclassmen who have not seen enough action. In returning the line from 2017, the box scores don’t show what goes on, but the end results are clear. San Diego State hasn’t rushed the ball effectively in 2018. The Aztecs wins have masked inefficiencies.
In this matchup against Fresno State, the line has to overcome a Fresno State team that wants to make Christian Chapman beat them. The Bulldogs want to run the same playbook from 2017 in the 27-3 Aztecs loss. The offensive line has a tall order to get their backs the ball, otherwise expect Chapman or Ryan Agnew winning the game.
Play Up To Their Opponent
San Diego State has struggled as favorites this season but has done fair as underdogs. The Aztecs are playing down to their inferior opponents and playing up to their opponents. Victories as underdogs came against Arizona State and Boise State. Victories as favorites while covering the spread: 1, technically since Sacramento State didn’t have a betting line.
These teams have a rivalry and in this spot where San Diego State remembers the 27-3 thrashing. The Aztecs need to exceed outside expectations and fulfill their own.
Return to Form, Be Alabama-Lite
The Aztecs haven’t played like their style of football in 2018. The offensive line needs to play lights out and get Juwan Washington the ball 20 times for 200 yards and 2 scores. The Aztecs have to overcome whatever offensive line struggles come and Christian Chapman or Ryan Agnew have to make throws. The defense has to come together and take the ball away. They have to be Alabama-lite, like the good ol’ days.
This is vital for San Diego State’s success. The Aztecs have only rushed for over 200 yards once this season. The Aztecs have been -5 in the turnover battle this season. They have liabilities in the secondary. If there was a game for San Diego State to return to form, it would be against their rival for the Oil Can.
They have to be Rocky Long‘s Aztecs. Run the ball, defend it, win.
This is a bounce-back spot for San Diego State. After embarrassingly losing to UNLV at home, this is everything for the Aztecs. A trip to the Mountain West championship has to go through Fresno.