San Diego St vs Nevada
Saturday, November 18, 7:30 PM on CBSS
SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, California
San Diego State (8-2, 6-2 Mountain West) will face off against the University of Nevada (2-8, 2-4 Mountain West) this Saturday at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium.
The Aztecs are coming off a bye week, after defeating San Jose State 52-7 the week prior. The Aztecs scored on their first six possessions while amassing a team record 544 rushing yards (a record that was previously at 474 yards, set against the Wolf Pack in 2016) and limited San Jose State to 200 yards in total offense.
San Diego State comes into this game ranked 16th in the nation rushing with 247.3 yards per game, while boasting the nation’s number 7th rank in total defense. The offense will be led by the second-leading rusher in the nation, Rashaad Penny, with 1602 yards for the season. Penny also has 18 touchdowns to go with his 7 yards per carry average. The last time Penny faced the Wolf Pack, he had 208 yards rushing on only 10 attempts, which the Aztecs won 46-16.
The Aztecs are 29-5 in their last 34 games, including 13-3 in their last 16 home games, however the last two home games were losses to Boise State and Fresno State in back to back weeks. This will be San Diego State’s first home game since the loss to Fresno.
Coach Rocky Long on this week’s match up: “This week we play a very explosive offensive team. If you look at their statistics, they throw for a bunch of yards and they score a bunch of points. They score a lot of points on some pretty good football teams and that’s not our style. I hope it doesn’t turn into a scoring contest because that’s not our style. We’ll see how we come off the bye week, there’s a concern about how sharp we’ll be, especially at the beginning of the game, but we’ll see how that works out.”
The offensive and defensive lines have been a concern the past few weeks as both sides of the ball have been riddled with injuries. “All the guys that were hurt I think are going to be able to play. Some of them won’t be able to play well. We’re still waiting on Antonio Rosales to get completely healthy. He moves around better and he’s feeling better than he did, but he’s still not at 100 percent so I’m not sure that one has been cleared up. Our defensive linemen all are expected to play. How well they can play, I don’t know. They were okay yesterday, but we didn’t have pads on yesterday. We have pads on today. Everybody looks pretty good in shorts,” said Coach Long on the health of his linemen.
Nevada comes into the game off of a a 59-14 win over San Jose State, who also lost by 45 points to the Aztecs the week before. The Wolf Pack’s two wins this season came against the two opponents that the Aztecs last played. Their win over Hawaii snapped a five-game losing streak to start their season and the win over the Trojans last week snapped a three-game losing streak. Nevada is winless on the road this year at 0-5 and is 1-12 in their last 13 road games. They are 15.5 point underdogs this week and are 0-5 this year straight up against the spread.
First year Wolf Pack coach, Jay Norvell will look to 6’2” 205 lb. junior quarterback Ty Gagni to provide the offense necessary to beat the Aztecs. Gagni has been on fire as of late and has 2066 yards passing and 20 touchdowns with 9 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 136.8 for the season.
His top targets are wide receivers Wyatt Demps and McLane Mannix. Demps, a 6’4” 200 lb. senior from Elk Grove, CA., has 58 receptions for 734 yards and 10 touchdowns. Mannix, hailing from Midland, TX., is a 5’10” 178 lb. freshman with 45 receptions for 650 yards and 6 touchdowns for the year.
The running game will be led by 5’11” 210 lb. sophomore running back Kelton Moore. Moore has 728 yards rushing for the season with three touchdowns, while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. The Wolf Pack average 137.5 yards rushing per game. If they want a legitimate shot at beating San Diego State, they will have to improve on their 25:55 average time of possession and will need to see a big game from Moore.
The defense is where the trouble lies for the Wolf Pack. While the offense can score in bunches, the defense can be quite the opposite, allowing 44 scores out of 55 attempts in the red zone this season. The Wolf Pack has allowed opponents to average 208.1 yards rushing per game while controlling the clock for over 34 minutes per game.
Nevada’s defense is led by 6’1” 230 lb. senior linebacker Austin Paulus, who has 94 tackles for the season, and 6’1” 240 lb. junior defensive end Malik Reed, who leads the team with eight and a half sacks.
The Aztecs’ running attack will have their way with the Wolf Pack defense as I expect Penny and Juwan Washington to eclipse 100 yards rushing and control the clock for 35 minutes or more.
Aztecs win in a blowout, 42-14.