Nevada vs. San Diego State: Keys To An Aztec Win, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Battle for the West Division is a Mountain West must-see!
The Aztecs are having one of their best seasons in the past 50 years despite some offensive challenges.
Carson, CA – SDSU outlasted Hawaii last week for a 17-10 win. Aztecs Quarterback Lucas Johnson failed to dazzle, however special teams excelled and scored more points than offense including a fake field goal for touchdown. In addition, defense generally contained talented Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro.
This week, the Aztecs are at “home” in Carson, CA, at Dignity Health Sports Park, as their new stadium is being erected. Low attendance and a retrofitted stadium that may or may not have the Aztecs’ logo on it leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, it is where SDSU will work to prevent Nevada from dominating the West Division.
WEEK 11: Nevada Wolf Pack (7-2, 4-1 Mountain West) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (8-1, 4-1 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, November 13th — 10:30 PM EST / 7:30 PM PST
WHERE: Dignity Health Sports Park Stadium, Carson, CA.
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS1, by following this link.
RADIO: 101.5 KGB / XTRA 1360 / iHeart Radio App / SiriusXM ch. 383
SERIES RECORD: This will be the 14th matchup between these two schools. San Diego State leads 7-6 in the series.
LAST WEEK: San Diego State defeated Hawaii 17-10; Nevada defeated San Jose State 27-24.
ODDS: San Diego State -2.5
Nevada will give the Aztecs a proper test. Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong is an elite passer, currently ranked third in the FBS in passing (376.3 ypg). He is a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award that goes to the nation’s top quarterback. Strong is the best in the Mountain West, and is a national top-10 in passing yards (3,197), passing yards per game (355.2), passing touchdowns (25) and completion percentage (70.5).
On Defense the Pack are led by Tristan Nichols, who ranks top-10 in the FBS in sacks (9.5), along with Dom Peterson and Sam Hammond. Peterson has totaled 22 tackles with five sacks, eight tackles-for-loss, one pass deflection and one fumble recovery for a touchdown. Hammond has 15 tackles, six for loss, four sacks and a pass deflection.
The Pack’s linebacker Daiyan Henley leads the team in tackles with 70. He’s also recorded four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. Lawson Hall is second with 63 tackles, adding four tackles-for-loss, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Wolf Pack have a dominant passing game, but one of THE WORST run games in FBS football. This is diametrically opposite to the Aztecs who have a tremendous run game but mediocre passing. If San Diego State can disrupt Strong and company on offense, they will have an advantage.
Let’s take a look at San Diego State’s best strategy to collect the W.
Three Keys to an Aztecs Victory
1. Do Not Pass The Football.
That’s not a typo. The Aztecs have proven that they can effectively manage the ground game in most cases, and they should stick to that. With an arsenal of skilled and explosive tailbacks including Greg Bell, Chance Bell, Jordan Byrd and Kaegun Williams, along with running quarterback Lucas Johnson who can effectively sprint to the chains – they will confuse the Wolf Pack defense, with multiple run options. If the Aztecs returned to utilizing a fullback as they have in the past, they could totally confuse most opponents including the Wolf Pack.
Not passing will drastically reduce the possibility of turnovers which quarterback Lucas Johnson has struggled with during the last two games. Johnson is much better at running the ball or handing it off than throwing it, and not exercising passing will eliminate the possibility for interceptions.
The Aztecs have to be careful of interceptions, considering the Wolf Pack’s Daiyan Henley leads FBS linebackers in INT’s having registered four.
You simply cannot intercept a ball that isn’t thrown.
2. Special Teams Scoring.
Punter/place kicker/field goal star Matt Araiza is the expected Ray Guy Award recipient. His punting, place kicking and field goal prowess is completely uncanny. He will open up opportunities for San Diego State that other kickers and punters could not.
The Aztecs have registered two kickoff returns for touchdown, and they have three pic sixes (although those are defensive- not special teams).
In addition, Araiza is fully capable of making a 50-plus yard field goal. He has registered three so far this season.
What’s more: holder Jack Browning ran for a touchdown when the Aztecs pulled off their fake field goal attempt against Hawaii.
Look for the Aztecs to score with special teams and defense. It’s their not-so-secret weapon that gives them a huge edge over most anybody.
3. Hold Nevada Below 33% On 3rd Down Conversions.
San Diego State is 53-5 the last 58 times it has held the opposition to a 33.3 percent or less mark on third down.
Nevada has a terrible ground game, and will unleash the air assault. So, if the Aztecs apply extreme defensive pressure and collapse the pocket rapidly the Carson Strong might not have as much time to effectively complete passes, or better yet- throw interceptions.
If the Aztecs defense agitates and prevents the Wolf Pack from converting third downs their odds of being victorious will be very good.
This game has serious consequences. The winner of this game should win the Western Division in the Mountain West, and the Aztecs have both momentum and “home” field advantage. It will be hard fought but the Aztecs will win.
Final Score: San Diego State 24, Nevada 20