In the classic David vs. Goliath match-up, this time Goliath won the day, but not without a valiant effort from San Diego State. In a game where the Cougars were favored by 17 points, many expected a blowout win for the far superior BYU team. What actually happened was reminiscent of an old school BYU and SDSU offensive shoot-out. San Diego state was able to keep step for most of the game, but in the end, BYU's offense was just too good to stop. BYU had beaten the Aztecs by an average score of 45-14 in their past 5 meetings; SDSU's big play passing offense kept them in the game, but in the end, BYU was just too good.
BYU's 6-1 (3-0) offense, lead by QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga, was able to put on 512 yards of total offense against the San Diego State defense. This was mostly due to BYU's tremendous ability to convert on 3rd down, no matter what the circumstances. Although BYU was 1-3 on 4th down, which gave SDSU two opportunities to get back into the game, BYU was an incredible 15-21 (71%) on 3rd down. BYU continued to do what they have done all season, not giving up on drives and finding a way to convert on third down. BYU's multitude of offensive weapons allowed them to do this; they continued to punch SDSU in the nose drive after drive. Max Hall rarely threw up-field, and Unga rarely broke off a huge run, but Hall lead methodical and surgical drives that wore SDSU's defense out.
Max Hall was 27-39 for 346 yards and 3 TDs, no INTs.
Harvey Unga had 81 yards on 26 carries and 1 TD
On the flip side, BYU stopped San Diego State from establishing any running game, but their secondary was a huge liability as Ryan Lindley continued to have big play after big play against them. The Aztecs managed 322 passing yards and a whopping 14.6 yards per completion. That being said, a huge INT by Scott Johnson of Ryan Lindley in the endzone near the end of the first half was a huge momentum changer in the game. Instead of SDSU taking a 21-14 lead late in the 2nd Qtr, Max Hall drove down the field to score with one second remaining to make it a 21-14 BYU lead at halftime. BYU managed only one sack all game, which came in the final minutes when SDSU was throwing desperation passes.
San Diego State 2-4 (0-2) continued the season's theme as they played a good game but was unable to finish on either offense or defense. The defense forced BYU into a lot of 3rd downs, but was unable to stop them. The offense was unable to convert on 3rd down themselves, which a multitude of Ryan Lindley passes dropped by receivers that would have converted. Ryan Lindley threw a huge INT in the end zone that would have given the Aztecs a late first half lead. On the positive side, sophomore QB Ryan Lindley was back in form, going 21 for 33 for 298 yards, 3 TDs, and one INT. His big throws kept the Aztecs in the game, tying the game 21 to 21 early in the 3rd Qtr after a 4th down stop by SDSU's offense. After being down 35-21, and yet another 4th down stop, Lindley was able to throw another TD to cut BYU's lead to 7, at 35-28. That is far as SDSU would get. Once again, the inability to establish a running game forced the Aztecs to rely on the capable arm of Lindley, and he came up with an impressive outing considering he had no running game to lean on. The Aztecs actually out-gained BYU on a per play basis, 6.8 yards per play to 5.6, but BYU was able to finish and SDSU not not.
Walter Kazee was the leading rushers 28 yards on 9 carries.
Demarco Sampson caught 2 TDs for the Aztecs, with Alston Umuolo catching the third. Vincent Brown, one FBS's leading WRs, caught 8 balls for 147 yards.
SDSU's defense, which looked decent at times, was absolutely dominated. BYU put up 166 rushing yards are 346 passing yards. The inability to stop BYU on 3rd down absolutely killed them. This would have been a different game had this not been true. BYU has done this all year to everybody they've played though, they are up there tops in the nation on 3rd down conversions. It speaks to their offensive style. Unless BYU plays an undisciplined game on offense, which they rarely, if ever do, they are impossible to stop. SDSU needed to win the turnover battle to have a chance in this game, which is something they failed to do. Max Hall was able to do a good job of keeping to the game plan, throwing underneath and letting his receivers get they YAC yards.
In conclusion, BYU continued to dominate on offense, if not on defense, and were able to withstand a strong effort from an inferior SDSU team. BYU, who plays at home next week against TCU, looks to shore up their defense against a strong TCU team. This game will likely determine the conference winner, as well as TCU's BCS hopes. San Diego State travels to Colorado State and hopes to continue putting up strong efforts, but hopes that this time it gets them into the "W" column. Coach Hoke has shown great improvement, but now wins are what matters. A road win would go great lengths for the Aztecs.