Respect. When it comes down to a PAC-12 team playing a Mountain West team, respect is hard to come by.
The Aztecs (2-0) could change that as they took on the first of two straight games against a PAC-12 opponent. SDSU traveled to Tempe, AZ to face the Arizona State Sun Devils (1-1). The Aztecs were looking to win their 10th game in their last 12 road games and get their first ever win against ASU, and a Pac-12 team, on the road.
It was a warm 89 degrees at kickoff, but it wasn’t warm enough to cool down Rashaad Penny. On the Aztecs second possession, facing a third down and eight to go, deep into their own territory, Penny muscled his way through the line to score a 95-yard touchdown. He wasted no time scoring again, as Penny answered an ASU scoring drive by taking the ensuing kick off 99 yards for an Aztec touchdown, making it 14-7. The next San Diego State drive had the Aztecs on the Sun Devils’ two yard line, but after a holding penalty and unnecessary roughness penalty by Antonio Rosales, they settled for a field goal to bring the score to 17-7.
The Aztecs had Arizona State reeling and desperately needing to score. SDSU’s secondary had their share of difficulty covering ASU receivers in the first half and Manny Wilkins Jr. (20/33 298 yds 2 TD) took advantage of several coverage miscues to bring them within three; 17-14 Aztecs. The Aztecs scored a field goal to end the half thanks in part to a Michael Sleep-Dalton shanked punt that gave the Aztecs the ball on the Sun Devil 18 yard line with 36 seconds to go in the half. The Aztecs took a six point lead into the half, 20-14.
The Aztec defense forced ASU to punt on the first possession of the second half, which looked like a Quest Truxton fumble and a Sun Devil touchdown, but upon further review, he was ruled to be down by contact. The Aztecs, however, were unable to do anything with their first drive, and went three and out. San Diego State’s defense held ASU again and the Aztec offense went to work. Christian Chapman (9/18 73 yds 1 TD) was able to find Penny on a 3rd and 21 pass play, resulting in Penny’s third touchdown of the game, 27-14 . Rashaad Penny was showing his versatility, scoring a rushing, returning, and receiving touchdown. The Aztec defense came up huge on the next series, forcing a Wilkins Jr. fumble and converting it for another field goal to push the Aztec lead to 30-14 to start the fourth quarter.
The Sun Devils continued to fight and took advantage of another SDSU offside penalty. Without the penalty, it would have made it 4th and 42 but instead it turned into a 53-yard Sun Devil touchdown, bringing ASU to within 10 with 8:34 to go in the game. The Aztecs took over and drove the ball down to the 28 yard line of ASU, but turned the ball over on downs with 2:34 left to go. Arizona State could not take advantage as the Aztecs’ defense held and gave the ball back to the offense with seven seconds left to preserve the Aztec 30-20 victory.
The Aztecs defense did what they had to do to win the game, but the key to this game was Rashaad Penny. The Sun Devils had no answer for him, as he scored in every way possible. Penny finished the game with 216 yards rushing on 18 carries for a whopping 12 yards per carry average. He was also the Aztecs leading receiver with 38 yards receiving on four receptions. Jason Baron II was 3/3 on field goals with a long of 32.
— SDSU Football (@Aztec_Football) September 10, 2017
The Aztecs will have to wait and see if this victory will result in a Top 25 College Football ranking. I believe they should be. If they fail to break into the top 25, a win next week against Stanford will surely propel them onto the list. There’s another list that the Aztecs should make, and that’s the Heisman Watch list. Rashaad Penny was above and beyond the best player on the field. This is Penny’s team. This is his year and the Heisman should be his as well. Let’s create some hype for this young man.
Tonight, respect was not given. The Sun Devils were the favorite. The Aztecs earned their respect and the Mountain West Conference took a step forward towards legitimacy. Go Aztecs!