The San Diego Sate Aztecs will face off against the Fresno State Bulldogs this Friday at 7 p.m. PT in the annual "Battle For The Oil Can."
Mountain West Connection talked to Daniel Leon (@DanLeon25) who covers the Bulldogs for the Fresno State student paper, The Collegian.
Daniel provides a detailed insight as to what the Bulldogs bring to the table, and he gives us his prediction.
1. It's fair to say that Fresno State has underachieved thus far this season at a record of 2-3. What do you think is the biggest reason for that?
Whenever a team loses key starters, they’re bound to face some sort of adversity especially early on in the season. That’s definitely the case here for Fresno State. The Bulldogs are still suffering from the departure of some of the best offensive weapons in school history in Derek Carr, Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse. The trio along with returner Josh Harper put up ridiculous numbers last season and their successors have failed to match those numbers because they are still developing.
2. The Fresno State defense gave up at least 50 points in their first three games. What do you think is the biggest area of weakness in that unit?
The secondary is probably the weakest area of the defense at this point because of the inconsistency at cornerback. Throughout the season, the secondary has allowed big plays through the air, especially in the first three games. Bulldogs Defensive Coordinator Nick Toth is still shuffling players around and doing some experimenting in the secondary. The back-end is an area of concern for Fresno State because of the lack of stability at cornerback.
3. Tell us what SDSU fans can expect from junior quarterback Brian Burrell? Is he more effective as a runner or a passer?
Brian Burrell demonstrated last week in his breakout performance that he can be an effective passer. However, Burrell is also a better athlete than most people give him credit for. He also ranks second on the team in rushing yards so he has the ability to put up numbers in both areas.
4. True freshman Nick Bawden will be starting for SDSU--due to an injury to starting quarterback Quinn Kaehler. What kind of effect do you think that will have on this game?
The freshman quarterback can have an impact on the game but his performance will rely on the play of his offensive line and running game. If the Aztecs get the run game going, then that could open up some lanes for Bawden in the passing game, allow him to establish come confidence and possibly have success.
5. Will the Bulldogs defense have an answer for running back Donnel Pumphrey, on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball?
This season the Bulldogs haven’t faired well when facing elite running backs and Donnel Pumphrey could make the case to be in that category. The defense must make their presence known and get some stops early in order to bottle him up because if the sophomore back gets going early, it could result in a long night for the ‘Dogs.
6. What will be the biggest reason Fresno State wins this game?
In order to win their third straight the Bulldogs must receive a total team effort and get going in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) in order to win the ballgame, just how they have won the past two weeks.
7. What will be the biggest reason Fresno St. loses this game?
If the Bulldogs lose this game it will be likely due to the defense continuing to allow big plays and the offense being unable to move the ball and protect their quarterback against SDSU’s physical and exotic defense.
8. Who do you think will win this game?
I think the Bulldogs keep their momentum going and edge the Aztecs to capture their third straight win. Fresno State 27, SDSU 24.