Aztecs Looking to Take Out Frustrations Against New Mexico

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Credit: MWC

San Diego State Aztecs (9-2) vs University of New Mexico Lobos (3-8)

Friday, November 24, 2017 12:30 CBBS

SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, California

Friday afternoon, San Diego State (9-2, 5-2 MW) will play their last regular season game against the University of New Mexico (3-8, 1-6 MW). This will be the last time this group of seniors will take the field at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium. If you want to see Rashaad Penny before he graduates, this will be it. Kickoff will be at 12:30 PM and it is expected to be 90 degrees at game time.

The Aztecs enter this game coming off a 42-23 victory over the University of Nevada. Prior to the game, Fresno State beat Wyoming, eliminating San Diego State from a third straight appearance in the Mountain West Conference Championship. Rocky Long on if the news of the Bulldogs victory impacted his team’s play: “I don’t have any idea. I think I’m going to ignore it and I ignored it. Whether they ignored it or not, I would bet you they didn’t. I would bet you they knew the score and were disappointed going into last week’s game. How much that affected their play I don’t know.”

To add insult to injury, the finalists for the Doak Walker Award was announced this week, recognizing the nation’s top rusher. Snubbed from that list was the nation’s leading rusher, Rashaad Penny. Seems unfathomable to me how this could have been an oversight on the committee’s part and Coach Long seems to agree: “I think it’s ridiculous. I talk about this all the time and nobody wants to hear it, but I’m going to say it again. The financial resource gap between the Power 5 group and us (Group of 5) is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous, and it gets bigger every year. They are trying to exclude us. They are trying to eliminate us and trying to make us a different division than them is exactly what’s going on. So, the people who are with them are going to make sure that the non-Power 5 guys don’t get any recognition if they can help it. That’s very disappointing and very upsetting. I’m really disappointed for our team and for Rashaad, but it’s not surprising. It gets worse every year.”

Senior tight end David Wells on running back Rashaad Penny not being a Doak Walker Award finalist: “I think it’s a joke– it’s awful. Obviously, he’s one of the best running backs in the nation. It’s fun blocking for the guy. I get to see him every single day and see how he runs. I don’t see any other running backs doing what he does. You can compare his stats to other peoples’ and you can see how he’s done. And then people will say we’re not a Power 5 school, but look what he did against Power 5 schools. The man’s a monster. I don’t understand how you can just (put) down a guy just because he’s in a non-Power 5 conference. But when he has over 1,800 yards with still a game or two to go and he’s leading the nation in many categories and then last week gets over 400 (all-purpose) yards, which quarterbacks usually don’t really do but he did pretty much all by himself, I think it’s an absolute joke. People who they had going ahead of him, of course, some of them I get it. I don’t see how you can leave him out of the conversation.”

Despite the disappointments entering this game, the Aztecs still have a chance at a 10-win season and to improve their bowl selection. The seniors will be pumped to finish on a strong note and will want to show how special this team is. “I hope what it does for our team is make us mad. I hope it makes Rashaad mad, too. Then we will have no problems on Friday,” said Coach Rocky Long.

The Lobos are coming off a 38-35 loss to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, a team that the Aztecs beat 41-10 back in the first week of October. This year has been marred with controversy for New Mexico, who were coming off back to back bowl seasons. Coach Bob Davie has been investigated for player mistreatment, and people were furious when five players choose to take a knee during their game against Air Force Academy. The Lobos had a season high 482 yards rushing versus UNLV, but average 249.4 yards per game rushing for the season, 100 yards less than they averaged last year. For a triple option team, that has been a concern. New Mexico is on a six-game losing streak.

New Mexico’s offense revolves around their running game and will feature senior quarterback Lamar Jordan (6’0”, 192 lbs.) and junior running back Tyrone Owens (5’9”, 187 lbs.) Jordan has 342 yards rushing with two TD’s, as well as 593 yards passing with three TDs and six interceptions. Owens has 743 yards rushing with three TDs. Senior running back Richard McQuarley (5’11”, 221 lbs.) will also see his fair share of touches. The Lobos average 21.6 points per game and have 27 fumbles on the year.

New Mexico’s defense is led by a pair of safeties, senior Jake Rothschiller (5’8”, 181 lbs.) and senior Jacob Girgle (5’11”, 187 lbs.) The defense has allowed 31.6 points per game this year and is 44th in the nation against the run, averaging 147.6 yards per game.

The Aztecs are 20-point favorites to win Friday, and lead the series against New Mexico 25-15. The Lobos’ rush attack will be facing an Aztec rush defense that allows 113 yards per game. That ranks them eleventh nationally. The Lobos have little to play for and will be looking to put this season behind them. The Aztecs will defeat them handily.

Prediction: Aztecs 38, Lobos 14

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