There’s no trophy and no national hype.
It doesn’t have the bitter hatred of a UNLV game. There’s no folklore and legendary memories of a BYU game.
There’s also no love lost.
Even though San Diego State can look down Interstate 8 and hold its nose in the air when peering down at University of San Diego, this is a rivalry game that should be treated like it’s a playoff game.
SDSU has recently fared well in this series. The Aztecs have won the last eight and haven't lost since the 2005-06 season, a 90-80 loss on the road.
USD could’ve and arguably should’ve knocked off SDSU last year at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Instead, the Aztecs escaped with a 65-64 win and the ensuing sigh of relief from Montezuma Mesa could’ve registered on the Richter scale.
This year things are a little different.
SDSU isn’t the newly ranked team it was going into last year’s clash with USD, who was positively bent on sending the Aztecs back out of the polls from whence they’d just came.
Now SDSU is 5-1, ranked No. 13 and hosts the Toreros this time around instead of the quick bus ride to Linda Vista.
But unlike last year, there’s a suffocating amount of hype around the Aztecs this year unlike last year when it was a pleasant surprise to SDSU fans that the team was ranked as high as it was after winning the DIRECTV John Wooden Legacy.
Much has been made about whether the Aztecs will justify the hype. Time will tell that story, for now the task at hand is the pesky neighbors USD.
Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson are leading the charge for the 4-3 Toreros this year. A loss to Boise State at the season’s start and a loss to a far superior Xavier squad and a close loss to Western Michigan offset USD's four wins.
Normally, containing Johnny and the Dees would be simple: stick Aqeel Quinn on him. Now that Quinn is out for at least three weeks with a broken ring finger, Dee might have a little more freedom to impact the game.
Dee's already averaging 21.1 points per game and Chris Anderson is throwing in 10.3 points, but with 8.6 assists.
But what SDSU needs to do is pretend it’s still in Maui, where they played better on offense than they had all season prior.
There are two keys to the Aztecs winning this game: limiting turnovers and shooting at least 70 percent from the free throw line.
SDSU had nearly 20 turnovers in a two-point loss to Arizona and had over 10 against BYU. That’s only going to take a team so far. Somewhere someone will exploit that and the Aztecs would do well to not have the "little brother" play spoiler in front of what probably will be a raucous crowd.
Despite the injuries, SDSU should win this game. It won't be easy; it never is against the Toreros.
Look for a tight, entertaining, back-and-forth game throughout and also look for the Aztecs to run away with it in the final stages.