With their bowl hopes possibly on the line, the San Diego State Aztecs will take on the San Jose State Spartans this Saturday at Qualcomm stadium in what will be the last regular season game of the season for both teams.
SDSU is coming off arguably its most impressive win of the season last week when its defense manhandled the high-powered Air Force rushing attack, while the offense played its most complete game of the season.
The Aztecs became bowl eligible with the win, but head coach Rocky Long said he doesn't believe that six wins is going to cut it this year, and that he believes his team will need to beat the Spartans in order to ensure a bowl game.
San Jose State, on the other hand, does not have a chance to play for a bowl game, and have a perfect opportunity to play spoiler in SDSU’s quest for a program-record fifth straight bowl game appearance.
The Spartans also have a chance to eliminate any chance for the Aztecs to win their 20th Mountain West title. SDSU would need to beat the Spartans and would need Hawaii to upset Fresno State in order to represent the West division in the MW championship game.
Let’s take a look at some of the headlines coming into Saturday’s matchup.
Chance to salvage season for SDSU
There’s no question this has been an underwhelming season for the Aztecs.
It began with a deflating loss to North Carolina in week two, and throughout the year the Aztecs have missed out on several opportunities to get big wins and take control of the West division.
However, SDSU has a chance to make a lot of the sting this season has brought disappear with a win over San Jose State that would ultimately punch their ticket to a bowl game.
There may be no better year to play the Spartans when you need a win than this year, as the Spartans have struggled mightily looking for an offensive identity minus David Fales.
Offense is on a roll
Last week the SDSU offense played exactly how fans had envisioned it prior to the start of the season.
Senior quarterback Quinn Kaehler threw for a season-high 326 yards, and many of those yards went to senior wide receiver Ezell Ruffin, who played his best game of the season, catching seven passes for 126 yards.
On top of that, sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey continued to run all over his opponent, and he notched his eighth game of the season with more than 100 yards, finishing with 153 rushing yards and a touchdown.
While it may have taken nearly all season, it looks like Kaehler is finally getting on the same page as his receivers and Pumphrey is continuing his stellar season.
Worried about the wildcat?
For the second straight week SDSU will be subjected to a unique rushing attack, as this week they will get a look at the wildcat the Spartans like to run occasionally.
Due to the Spartans' issues throwing the ball, Long believes the Spartans might abandon their quarterbacks altogether, and have two running backs run the show.
After holding Air Force, the No. 7 rushing team in the nation, to its lowest rushing total of the season, the Aztecs should feel pretty good about stopping any rushing attack coming their way.
Even minus junior linebacker Jake Fely for the most of the season (and now the rest of the season, too), SDSU has done an exemplary job at stopping the run. A lot of that credit goes to sophomore linebacker Calvin Munson who has had a breakout season, and won Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week last week.
If the Spartans do decide to go with the wildcat they may not find much success, and will have to go back to a passing attack that features three different quarterbacks.