SDSU vs Cal Week 2 Preview: State Has Something to Prove

 (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO STATE (1-0) vs CALIFORNIA (1-0)

Saturday September 10, 7:30 PM on CBSS

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego California

This Saturday the California Golden Bears head down south to take on our San Diego State Aztecs. SDSU is riding high coming fresh off of a 31-0 win against New Hampshire, extending their win streak to eleven. On game day, it will officially be 350 days since the last time SDSU lost a football game. Cal is coming into town looking to end that, particularly Cal’s less than mediocre punter, who claimed on instagram that its “time to go 2-0 and end this so-called win streak.”

Records to be Broken 

Donnel Pumphrey is one 100-yard rushing game away from tying Marshall Faulk for most SDSU 100-yard rushing games in a career with 23. He is also only 219 yards away from tying Faulk’s career rushing yards at SDSU with 4,589. With Cal’s 89th ranked rushing defense, number 19 has a real shot at making Aztec history on September 10th.

Cal and SDSU will be meeting for the eighth time with the Golden Bears holding the series lead 4-3. The home team has won all seven matchups, with the most recent matchup happening last year on September 12th with Cal pulling away 35-7. The Aztecs look to even up the series this Saturday. Here’s how I believe they’ll do it.

Continue to Play Shutdown Defense

State will take the field ranked 5th (FBS) over all in defense, against Cal’s number eight ranked offense. The Golden Bears put up a total of 630 yards against the 105th defensively ranked Rainbow Warriors, they also managed to put 51 points up on the board that led them to the win. San Diego State, as we all know put up 31 big ones and played shut down defense allowing zero points to be scored. So one of the keys for the Aztecs to add another win to their streak would be to continue the shut down defense. An impressive defensive performance was shown last week by SDSU, allowing only 141 total yards (71 on the ground, 70 in the air). Over the last 11 games, State has held their opponent to an average of 11 points per game, holding five of those 11 to less than seven points. If they can continue to playing smash mouth, in your face defense, then Pumphrey and Penny can tuck this game into their belts.

Take Advantage on Offense 

Now, Cal is ranked top ten on offense, and rightfully so, but they are ranked 109th overall on defense. More importantly they’re ranked 98th in the rush defense, where State is ranked 13th in rush offense. Now I know, rankings are not too important as anything can happen any given game. But this is where the Aztecs need to show their strengths and play their best game, the run game. Week one, Cal showed themselves to be rather weak on the defensive side. Hawaii scored a total of four touchdowns, three of these scoring plays came from more than 15-yards out (15, 39, 53). They also showed for themselves to be very weak in stopping drives. The Rainbow Warriors drove from 83 yards, 64 yards, 84 yards, and 91 yards to score touchdowns. Now, if San Diego State can jump on Cal’s defensive mistakes early then Pumphrey and Holder should be able to put big numbers up on Qualcomm’s outdated scoreboard.

Key Matchups: 

Kazee vs Hansen

Kazee made himself known as State’s most dynamic lock down corner. Although he only posted four tackles last game, 3 unassisted, he has posted 10 career interceptions along with six forced fumbles putting himself in the top ten among active FBS players for both categories. Hansen, who is not Cal’s number one receiver, did manage to post 160 receiving yards on 14 receptions last game. He posted 99 more yards and 9 more receptions than anyone else on his team. Putting a target on his back for all Aztec defensive backs, especially Kazee.

Munson vs Bears with the Football

Last week, University of New Hampshire learned that anyone who had their hands on the football was going to find themselves to be punished by a 6’1″ 245-pound beast. He wrapped up 11 tackles, seven unassisted, and two of those being for a loss. He also managed to get into the backfield and register one QBH.  Cal’s high-flying offense is going to find themselves into some serious trouble if they cannot find an answer for Munson, who will be an interesting one to watch in this game

X Factors 

Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Pumphrey in the Q 

We all know just how explosive and important Donnel Pumphrey is to State’s offense, but what’s even more important to that is how effective he seems to be at home. He has rushed for a total of 2,279 total yards and punched himself into the end zone 22 times when playing under the lights at Qualcomm Stadium. Off all those yards and touchdowns, 2,057 yards and 21 of the TDs have come within his last 15 games played. The Senior will be looking to make one last memorable season here in San Diego, so look for him to make a big impact this weekend.

Turnovers 

Turnovers are one of the biggest factors in games. SD State was ranked second in the nation in turnovers gained last year with 34. They put themselves up one turnover last Saturday, and should look to add a couple more to that total if they want to keep Cal’s offense from putting numbers on the board. Lets not forget, failed third down conversions lead to punts which essentially are turnovers in a way. Last week, SDSU held UNH to zero for 14 on third down conversions, which led to twelve punts. I feel if they can at least get two or three big turnovers on top of keeping the Golden Bears third down conversions low, then the momentum of the game can easily be swayed in favor of State.

My Prediction

I predict that SDSU is going to continue their smash mouth defensive ways, but it will take some time to get settled down against the high-flying Golden Bears. The Aztecs are looking to make a statement this year. I think Cal will put a couple touchdowns up on the board before State comes hammering back to take the lead and hold the Bears off to eventually wining 30-21.

Bold Predictions 

With Cal’s shaky defense and SDSU’s ground pounding offense, Donnel Pumphrey will pound the Golden Bears defense and rush for 200 or more yards and put at least two touchdowns up on the board. Rashaad Penny will also have a big game rushing for at least 100 yards and a touchdown.

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Derek Cluff
Derek is a 22-year-old out of Lemon Grove, California. A burning passion for San Diego sports led him to pursue an opportunity to write and share about what's going on with the teams in America's Finest City. A young and aspiring sports journalist looking to grow his knowledge and expand his experience at any opportunity.

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