San Diego State vs. UCLA: Game Preview, Kick Time, TV & Radio Schedule, Livestream, Prediction
The Aztecs face the Bruins at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Here’s the path to victory for the Aztecs and how to tune in.
The Aztecs have never defeated UCLA, but Chip Kelly‘s Bruins are highly vulnerable. Will SDSU finally prevail?
WEEK 2: San Diego State Aztecs (1-0) vs. UCLA Bruins (0-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 7th— 1:15 PM PST/4:15 PM EST
WHERE: Rose Bowl; Pasadena, California (90,888)
TV: Pac-12 Network
RADIO: 101.5 KGB / XTRA 1360 / Fox Sports InlandEmpire (IE) 1350
SERIES RECORD: Aztecs are 0-21-1 in the series.
LAST MATCHUP: September 5, 2009
ODDS: UCLA -7
FEI PROJECTION: UCLA by 4.0
SP+ PROJECTION: UCLA by 0.2 (50% win projection)
The Aztecs closed out Week 1 by shutting down FCS powerhouse Weber State for the win. Barely. San Diego State posted their lowest final score ever at 6-0 and two things were clear. First, the Aztecs defense was impeccable, only allowing their foes past the 50-yard line for a total of one minute. Secondly, the offense was appalling. Were it not for special teams, the Aztecs may not have scored.
The Aztecs unveiled their new spread offense, but fans might hope for SDSU to put it back under the veil. Its performance, coupled with poor judgment late in the game by quarterback Ryan Agnew, meant the Aztecs were lucky to exit the field victorious.
Leading up to this year, the Aztecs built their offense around superstar running backs, but it would appear that rather than doing same with Juwan Washington, coach Rocky Long has built their offense around Agnew. In his debut last year, Agnew turned heads by going 6-1, including two quality wins against ranked teams Boise State and Arizona State. Agnew definitely has game, he just needs to find it.
UCLA under Chip Kelly has struggled substantially. Last week, the Bruins gave up a winnable road game to the Cincinnati Bearcats (a team that San Diego State destroyed in the 2015 Hawaii Bowl). The Aztecs have a good opportunity to finally post its first win against a frayed Bruins squad.
Three Keys to a San Diego State Victory
1. Defense Must Put Dorian Thompson-Robinson Off Balance
The frenetic Aztecs defense appears to be solid for 2019, in a year that the team did not expect to have it.
San Diego State won last week because at no time whatsoever was Weber State offense in a scoring position. The Wildcats never once reached field goal range, which is remarkable. Weber State’s offense could not have posted points even if they maintained a kicker with 60-yard range. Talented quarterback Jake Constantine was TOTALLY shut down. To a lesser degree, the Bearcats defense plagued the Bruins last week as well. This is partly because the Bruins offense is marred with injuries right now.
If the defense pressures UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, turnovers are likely. During their loss against Cincinnati, Thompson threw two interceptions and fumbled twice (at least one time, he just dropped the ball). The Aztecs can capitalize on this. Star running back Josh Kelley sat out for much of their season opener because of a bad right knee. The Bruins tailback squad is pretty banged up across the board.
Watch for tackles for loss by Kyahva Tezino or disruptions and interceptions by Tariq Thompson and arguably the best secondary the Aztecs have had for many years. SDSU has maintained a productive scoring defense in the past, and it’s possible this defense could contribute valuable points as well.
2. Matt Araiza’s Accuracy
Freshman kicker Matt Araiza scored all of the Aztecs’ points last week, hitting on 34-yard and 29-yard field goals, his first two NCAA attempts. Due to a premature snap that coach Rocky Long alleges occurred when Weber State players initiated the Aztecs’ snap call, Araiza did not get a third field goal opportunity. Nonetheless, his performance was “Baron-esque.” It’s just what the Aztecs need if the defense gets the job done while the offense struggles.
3. Improved Play by Quarterback Ryan Agnew
Agnew’s performance was substandard last week, and he only connected on 16 of 30 pass attempts. That, coupled with just 55 yards of production on 22 carries by Juwan Washington, led to stagnation by the Aztecs offense. The result was disappointing, period.
One highlight by Agnew was two third-down conversions resulting from quarterback run plays. Another highlight: a running across-the-body pass, a-la Brett Favre. We saw last year that there’s serious talent inside Agnew, so the Aztecs need him to tighten the screws. If he manages to do so and embodies the quarterback that he was last season, he could be a formidable double threat for opposing teams.
Agnew must make better decisions. At the end of the fourth quarter, two additional minutes lingered due to poor clock management as Agnew did not let time run down, and it could have cost San Diego State the game. Fortunately, Tariq Thompson made a timely interception.
A potential fourth key to victory would be one or more of the running backs on the Aztecs roster producing. Juwan Washington turned an ankle last week, which is why he managed just 55 yards and, yes, this is the same Juwan Washington who led the NCAA last season during the first three games of the season.
UCLA is not on top of their game. Fans are cautiously optimistic that Chip Kelly will steer them in the right direction, but this has not occurred just yet. The Aztecs will be gunning for their first win, and aim to keep their hot streak against Pac-12 teams alive. Just as the Bruins are out of sync, the Aztecs are still re-establishing their offense.
This is a really tough call, but it will most likely be a low-scoring game. The analysts have the Bruins winning by seven, but it will likely be closer than that. If the Aztecs want the win, it is within their reach. Still, the chips are stacked against them in Pasadena.
UCLA 17, San Diego State 13