Northern Colorado Vs. San Jose State: Game Preview, Kick Time, Radio Schedule, Prediction
San Jose State will kick off 2019 by hosting the UNC Bears. Here’s how to tune in and how the Spartans can open the year with a win.
Can SJSU get 2019 started with a W?
WEEK 1: Northern Colorado Bears vs. San Jose State Spartans
WHEN: Thursday, August 29 — 7:00 PM PT/8:00 PM MT
WHERE: CEFCU Stadium; San Jose, California (30,456)
STREAM: There is no television broadcast, but you can find the SJSU radio feed via the Tunein app.
RADIO: The San Jose State broadcast can be found in and around San Jose on KKSF, 910 AM. It can also be found on affiliate radio stations in Salinas/Monterey (1460 AM), Stockton (1280 AM), and Modesto (1360 AM), and on satellite radio through SiriusXM channel 965.
The Northern Colorado broadcast can be found in and around Fort Collins and Greeley on KFKA 1310 AM.
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between San Jose State and Northern Colorado.
ODDS (via OddsShark): San Jose State -11
2018 STAT PROFILES: link
After finishing last in the West division yet again in 2018, the San Jose State Spartans are out to prove that the progress they’ve made under head coach Brent Brennan will show up in the win column this time around.
It will start with avoiding a repeat of last year’s disastrous opener, when SJSU allowed 44 points in an upset loss to UC Davis. The Northern Colorado Bears don’t seem to be much of a threat — they were voted to finish dead last in the FCS’s competitive Big Sky Conference by both coaches and media — but Earnest Collins Jr.’s team is out to prove their doubters wrong, too.
With so much at stake for the Spartans in 2019, nothing should be taken for granted. Here’s what SJSU can do to open the season with a victory.
Three Keys to a San Jose State Victory
1. Establish the passing game early.
For the Spartans to reach their ceiling this fall, a lot will depend on quarterback Josh Love and his continued development and, in particular, he’ll need to do a much better job of establishing some consistency early in games. Two seasons ago, for instance, he completed only 50% of his passes in the first half of games and had a passer rating of 99.15. Last year was a little better, but Love only improved to a 54.1% completion rate and a 110.83 rating across eight games.
Last year’s UNC defense was just okay at defending the pass, allowing a 65% completion rate and 7.9 yards per attempt. They are, however, losing their top three contributors by passes defended, 19 in all, and those three athletes also combined for six of UNC’s eight interceptions. If that wasn’t enough, the Bears also mustered just eight sacks as a team in 2018.
In other words, there’s opportunity here to set the tone if Love is up to the task.
2. Don’t let Jacob Knipp beat you.
Knipp has shown flashes that he can be a tremendous difference maker for the Bears, but the graduate quarterback has suffered multiple season-ending injuries in years past. In 2018, he saw time in just three games but completed 65% of his passes at 8.4 yards per attempt; the year before, Knipp averaged 9.1 YPA and completed 62.8% of his throws. Even with a relatively unproven group of receivers at his disposal, Knipp could pick the Spartans apart if they aren’t ready.
Getting pressure on him is one solution, as the Bears gave up 40 sacks last season, but the Spartans’ own 2.3% sack rate was dead last among FBS teams. Improving on that is almost a given, but SJSU needs to prove it will do so from the get-go.
3. Avoid the backbreaking turnover.
San Jose State’s lack of discipline with the football played a key role in their opening loss last year against UC Davis. The Spartans turned the ball over three times, twice in Aggies territory, including a fourth-quarter fumble by Tyler Nevens inside the UCD ten-yard line.
In all, SJSU coughed up 19 giveaways last season, which did a lot to undo the fact that the Spartans defense actually forced 20 turnovers itself. This is another area where Josh Love, who had a 3.1% interception rate last fall, could make a big impact with even marginal improvement.
Nobody thought much of the UC Davis Aggies in the 2018 preseason, but they ended up earning a spot in the FCS playoffs. At a glance, however, it doesn’t seem like Northern Colorado is in the same position to surprise San Jose State like UCD did. UNC might have a solid quarterback and a decent running game, but the Spartans are now in a position where it should be worrying if they don’t win a game like this going away. San Jose State 42, Northern Colorado 20