2021 Mountain West Championship: Keys To An Aztecs Victory
#19 SDSU is having a special season. Can the Aggies upset their mojo?
N O B O D Y would have predicted SDSU hosting Utah State in the 2021 Mountain West Football Championship.
Carson, CA – The San Diego State Aztecs are experiencing their best football season over the program’s entire 99 year history.
Who in the world would have foreseen that? During 2020, much to fans’ horror, head coach Brady Hoke, in his second Aztecs tenure, failed to deliver a bowl berth after the Aztecs had for TEN STRAIGHT YEARS. Fans, alumni and students were completely furious.
Meanwhile, in Logan, the Utah State Aggies were exercising their own demons after head coach Gary Anderson got off to a nightmarish 0-3 start consisting of back-to-back-to-back routs which included a 38-7 thumping by SDSU. The Aztecs executed a 407-yard ground game- the ninth best ever.
Anderson was fired promptly after the appalling start, Frank Maile stepped in as interim coach.
The Aggies experienced controversy after statements made by University President Noelle Cockett were deemed inequitable, and the team elected to forego its final game versus Colorado State in protest after going 1-5 for the season. What a disaster.
In December of 2020, new head coach Blake Anderson, formerly of Arkansas State was hired.
Next, Arkansas State quarterback Logan Bonner followed Anderson to (wait for it…) Logan, Utah. In no time Utah State gained amazing momentum in the Mountain Division, amongst fierce competition.
These two underdogs became your 2021 West Division Champions and your Mountain Division Champions, in a pairing that is about as foreseeable as slacker comic Pete Davidson dating mega influencer Kim Kardashian.
WEEK 14: Utah State Aggies (9-3, 6-2 Mountain West) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (11-1, 7-1 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, December 4th — 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST
WHERE: Dignity Health Sports Park (27,000) 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 16th matchup between these two programs. San Diego State leads Utah State13-2. SDSU has won 11 of the the last 12 meetings.
LAST WEEK: San Diego State defeated Boise State 27-16; Utah State defeated New Mexico 35-10.
ODDS: San Diego State -5.5
Three Keys to an Aztecs Victory
1. Exploit Soft Aggies Run Defense
San Diego State is 52-2 in its last 54 regular season games when rushing for 200 or more yards. Achieving this yardage result will be a strong indicator of SDSU success.
Utah State is ranked #86 in rush defense. The unimpressive statistic is a good indicator that the Aztecs will be able to keep the ball on the ground throughout the game to reach the end zone.
Last year in Logan, Greg Bell rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown and added a 29 yard reception for touchdown.
Greg Bell, Chance Bell and Jordan Byrd will attempt to post big numbers in this game, as they keep in mind last year’s success.
2. Shake, Rattle And Roll Logan Bonner
If the Aztecs can disrupt Bonner’s ability to pass effectively the Aggies will struggle to move down the field. Bonner is one of the very best quarterbacks in the Mountain West, and under normal circumstances he is an excellent passer. With aggressive 3-3-5 Aztecs defense coming at him again and again and again, he may fail to connect at his normal frequency, and he may also be jarred into tossing a few interceptions.
If the pocket is rapidly collapsed, and if Bonner is sacked a few times, it may also chip away at his confidence and put him on his heels instead of toes.
Aggression will pressurize Bonner to the point that he makes uncharacteristic mistakes in the face of the elite Aztecs defense.
3. Unleash The LEG OF STEEL
In situations where the Aztecs find themselves three-and-out, superstar punter Matt Araiza is remarkable about placing the ball within the 20- nay, the 10 yard line. It doesn’t matter if the Aztecs are buried in their own end zone: Araiza can flip the field better than nearly anybody- ever- from 50, 60, 80- even 90 yards. He now owns the all time NCAA record for most 50 and 60 yard punts in a single season. He is on track to end the season with the longest average punting distance in NCAA history. Araiza is a Punting God.
Matt Araiza has incredible long-range field goal capabilities and he isn’t afraid to score a field goal from 50+ yards.
Araiza doesn’t miss chip shots, and if you’re not paying attention, his holder might just run the ball in for touchdown, making Aztecs special teams hands down one of the most dynamic in all of college football.
Matt Araiza is this season’s likely Ray Guy award winner. If he does not easily achieve this feat, the award might just lose its luster in the eyes of many Araiza followers nationwide.
The Aztecs will effectively handle the Aggies. Their menacing defense will disrupt Utah State’s offense to reduce its effectiveness. Then, on offense, Greg Bell will likely have a breakout game against the #86 rush defense that is the Aggies. The Aztecs will likely intercept Logan Bonner once or twice, possibly for a pic six, and on top of it all, Matt Araiza will make a stellar special teams contribution. In the end, the talented Aggies will be outclassed by the Aztecs, who are having a very special season.
The Aztecs will become your 2021 Mountain West Champions with a two-plus-possession victory.
Final Score: Utah State 17, San Diego State 28
If Cincinnati somehow loses against Houston, and if the Aztecs have a dominant game against the Aggies, a special season could potentially become a magical season, and instead of the probable Jimmy Kimmel L.A. Bowl, a 12-1 SDSU could theoretically land a berth in the NY6 as the G5 Champions.
The Aztec Nation wishes San Diego State success this Saturday!