San Diego State will take on Nevada Saturday afternoon in a huge game that may determine the Mountain West Conference’s West Division.
The Aztecs are currently sitting at 3-1 on the season, and the Wolf Pack are a perfect 4-0. With both teams in the stacked West Division, this game could possibly end up as a crucial tiebreaker in the standings.
Two weeks ago, San Diego State fell to the still-undefeated San José State Spartans, which could also be crucial in the standings, but they were able to bounce back last week against Hawaii.
After jumping out to a huge 28-0 halftime lead against the Rainbow Warriors, the Aztecs came out with a 34-10 win. They were able to completely shut down Hawaii’s offense, allowing only 66 rush yards and 209 pass yards. Their elite secondary held Chevan Cordeiro to 17 completions on 35 attempts.
On offense, Greg Bell ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Bell was able to control the tempo and carry the load. Unfortunately, Carson Baker had perhaps the worst game ever by an Aztec quarterback. He completed four of 13 passes for 30 yards and an interception, finishing with a 4.2 QBR.
Last week, Nevada defeated New Mexico 27-20. The game was much closer than it should have been, but the Wolf Pack came out with their fourth win in as many games.
This Wolf Pack team, led by fourth-year coach Jay Norvell, has an outstanding offense that scores 33.8 points per game. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Carson Strong has been phenomenal so far this season.
In four games, Strong has completed 71% of his passes for 1517 yards, 12 touchdowns, and one interception. Per game, he throws for an average of 379 yards on 42 attempts. Last week, Strong completed 24 of his 38 passes for 336 yards, three touchdowns, and his only interception of the season.
Nevada only rushes for an average of 99 yards per game, so the Aztec defense, which allows an average of 91.3 rush yards per game, should be able to contain Nevada’s Toa Taua. Taua, a junior running back, has 255 rush yards on 6.5 yards per rush. Those are great numbers for someone who only gets around 10 rushes a game, but the elite SDSU run defense allowed only 66 rush yards last week.
The biggest matchup of the game will be the Aztec pass defense against Strong and Romeo Doubs. Doubs, a junior wide receiver, has 31 catches for 645 yards and eight touchdowns through four games.
Averaging 20.8 yards per catch and 161.25 yards per game, Doubs is easily the biggest threat for Nevada. He had five catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns last week against New Mexico.
Against an SDSU pass defense that allows only 152.3 pass yards a game (third in the nation), Strong and Doubs will face their toughest matchup of the season. If the Aztecs can limit them in any way, they should be able to come out with a win.
SDSU has a productive pass rush with 14 sacks so far this season. Led by linebacker Caden McDonald and defensive lineman Jonah Tavai (7.5 sacks combined), it will be huge to see if they can disrupt Strong, who has been sacked 12 times this season.
For the Aztec offense, Carson Baker will absolutely need to step his game up to keep the Nevada defense honest. If he can’t, the Wolf Pack will load up the box to stop Greg Bell.
Nevada allowed 141 rush yards on only 3.2 yards per carry last week, but if Bell and SDSU can keep the ground game going and control the clock, they will be able to keep Strong and the Wolf Pack offense off the field.
Nevada allows 20.5 points, 191.8 pass yards, and 126 rush yards per game. Their defense is much-improved from last season, so this should be another close matchup.
Last season, the Wolf Pack defeated the Aztecs in a low-scoring 17-13 affair. Even with another elite SDSU defense, this game should have more points than last season.
Nevada will be looking to win their third straight game against San Diego State.
The game has been moved to CBS after the Ole Miss-Texas A&M game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues. With both teams aiming for a first-place finish in the West Division, this will be a great matchup between the Mountain West’s No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense on national television.
Saturday’s game on CBS will be at 12:30 p.m. PT at Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nevada.
Bobby is currently a senior at Arizona State University and is majoring in Sports Journalism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He expects to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Fall 2023. Bobby is from San Diego, loves to write and has a deep passion for baseball, football, and basketball. He also co-hosts the “Devils Talking Padres” podcast, contributes for ZonaHoops.com and is a digital reporter and photographer for Cronkite News/Arizona PBS.