San Jose State vs. San Diego State: Three Keys To An Aztecs Win
Spartans find themselves in a rare situation beginning the season with a 2-0 record. Here’s how San Diego State can defeat them.
The Spartans have imported a talented quarterback, while the Aztecs feature an armada of solid running backs.
WEEK 10: SJSU (2-0, 2-0 MW) vs. SDSU (2-0, 2-0 MW)
WHEN: Friday, November 6th — 6:00 PM PST / 9:00 PM EST
WHERE: Dignity Health Sports Park; Carson, California (27,000)
RADIO: 101.5 FM (KGB) and XTRA 1360 AM.
SERIES RECORD: San Diego State leads the series 22-19-2 and has a seven-game winning streak.
LAST MATCHUP: October 19th, 2019 | Aztecs won 27-17 in San Jose
ODDS: SDSU -9
Carson, CA — San Jose State University football has not exactly been known for winning football games in recent years. While a 2-0 record is a modestly good start for any team, it’s a huge deal for the Spartans. To reach 3-0 they now have to overcome the Aztecs.
The Mountain West and the Aztecs do in fact need to take the Spartans seriously this year, because they are beginning to get their act together.
If the Spartans keep up the work, they might be able to eventually shed their “anchor-dragging-the Mountain-West-Conference-down” status, and subsequently stop emitting radioactivity affecting other conference football teams due to their bottom-of-the-barrel FBS ranking status. At one point the Spartans were so bad that a single loss to them could destroy a conference team’s NCAA ranking well into the next season.
Now, the Spartans are showing promise. The 2020’s could be the start of a new era in San Jose.
The Aztecs are also off to a 2-0 start. There is a relatively new coach in Brady Hoke, however the play book is the same. This gives the Aztec Nation some relief that there will be no rebuilding period. In fact, the Aztecs are currently accumulating points in AP and the Coaches Poll.
A successful season could deliver San Diego State to a 2020 Mountain West Conference championship against the Spud City Stallions. First, they must defeat their next opponent.
Here’s how the Aztecs can score a win this Friday night.
Three Keys to an Aztecs Victory
1. RATTLE and roll quarterback NICK STARKEL
The Spartans’ starting Quarterback Nick Starkel is a graduate transfer by way of Texas A&M and Arkansas. He completed 34 of his 47 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns to take Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors, among other accolades.
Starkel played exceptionally well against New Mexico scoring 21 first-half points after being held scoreless until the third quarter in the season opener against Air Force. Ten different Spartans caught at least one pass from Starkel, led by Bailey Gaither’s 10 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown. Tre Walker caught nine passes for 107 yards and two scores, while Isaiah Hamilton (2 rec., 50 yds.) and Sam Olson caught the other touchdowns from Starkel.
In light of Starkel’s prolific passing, not a whole lot of the Spartans’ offensive production came via the ground game against New Mexico, as the team mustered just 99 rushing yards.
The Aztecs defense will have to do what they do so well: apply hard-core pressure on Starkel which will ultimately rush passes, force errors, provoke tackles for loss and missed third down conversions. Collapse that pocket and keep Starkel worried about who’s coming after him on every play.
The Aztecs aren’t just exceptional defense in the Mountain West; they are NCAA elite defense who have only allowed 13 points in 2 games this season.
2. secondARY supremacy
The Aztecs have wreaked havoc in the backfield. Caden McDonald has already recorded 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss. Safeties Dwayne Johnson Jr. and Tariq Thompson are both seniors, and well seasoned in the secondary, leading San Diego State in tackles, with 13 and 12, respectively.
The Aztecs secondary will have to stick to Spartan receivers like white on rice. They cannot let long passes be converted into great gains. Instead, they have to take advantage of the air barrage and manage pick-sixes. If they do that they will kill the spirit of the Spartans.
3. unleash hell’s bells
Starting quarterback Carson Baker has thrown for 300 total yards in the Aztecs’ first two games. Baker was efficient last week against Utah State, completing 18 of 27 attempts for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This was just his fourth collegiate game, having played in just two as a redshirt freshman in 2019.
It is, however, the running game that is again defining the Aztec offense for 2020, and clearly the Aztecs have very special tailback talent- yet again.
Specifically, the Aztecs dominated on the ground against the Aggies, rushing for 409 yards after tallying 290 yards rushing against UNLV two weeks ago. Greg Bell led the way both weeks, notching 157 rushing yards and a touchdown — with two catches for 29 yards and another score — against Utah State. Chance Bell (no relation) added 98 yards and a touchdown in the effort against the Aggies, with Jordan Byrd taking his only carry of the day 73 yards for a touchdown as well. The Aztecs have several additional weapons in their tailback arsenal to boot.
The Aztecs again live up to the moniker “Running Back University.”
San Jose State comes into this game with tremendous momentum and the belief that a win is very possible. The Aztecs will outclass the Spartans without too much trouble on both defense and offense, and they will find many avenues to score touchdowns.
This game may potentially be more challenging for the Aztecs than Utah State and UNLV, and it will be a high-scoring match.
San Diego State 48, SJSU 13