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San Diego State vs UNLV game preview: Aztecs Keys to beating the Rebels

San Diego State takes on UNLV in what looks to be the West-clinching game for San Diego State.

San Diego State celebrating after their victory against Wyoming
San Diego State celebrating after their victory against Wyoming
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

WEEK 12: San Diego State Aztecs (7-3, 6-0 MW) vs UNLV Rebels (3-7, 2-4 MW)

WHEN: Saturday, November 21, 7:30 PM PST

WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV

TV: CBS Sports Network

COACHES: Rocky Long, Tony Sanchez

SERIES RECORD: 15-9 San Diego State, 25th meeting all-time

San Diego State takes on UNLV in what could be the West-clinching game for the Aztecs. In a down year for the Mountain West, San Diego State has been dominant in conference. Currently they are the only team undefeated in conference play and is favored heavily to defeat the Rebels. If San Diego State wins on Saturday, there’s a chance that the team comes back to Vegas at the Las Vegas Bowl. It’s been projected that San Diego State (1st seed Mountain West) takes on UCLA (6th seed Pac-12). Certainly UNLV will miss out on the playoffs, but the silver lining for the Rebels have played competitively against the Aztecs in Vegas going 6-5 during their last 11 meetings.

Keys to Victory

Staying Strong on Defense

When San Diego State is on the road, they’ve given up an average total of 330 yards of offense compared to their home average of 243.6 yards of offense. However, the Aztecs stay stingy on the run not allowing over 97.4 yards on the road. Calvin Munson leads the team in total tackles (68), tackles for loss (12) and sacks (8), but the whole team is hungry and motivated to make a push for the conference title.

Get Micah Holder Open

Holder is looking like he’s the guy for Maxwell Smith. He has risen to be the best receiver on their staff, leading the team in in receptions (20), yards (338), and receiving touchdowns (5). Smith has accuracy problems, but he trusts Holder to haul in the passes and find the end zone. The work he's put in the spring and early season has paid off and will only continue to get better through the end of this season.

The Championship is Won With Donnel Pumphrey

This team is hurting everyone else on their paths to victory. The Aztecs have won six straight games with 10 or more points and it’s no surprise during that same time the Aztecs have at least made 47 attempts at the rush. It is clear that the Aztecs run and they run it well with Pumphrey and Chase Price trading shots at opposing defenses. Pumphrey is the guy the Aztecs have lean on and he will help bring the Mountain West Championship home to San Diego.


UNLV will do their best to make this a game in the first quarter, but like last week with Wyoming, San Diego State’s defense will shut them down. The Aztecs defense is playing out of their minds right now, playing sharp and able to take on whoever comes out on top of the Mountain division. San Diego State wipes the floor with UNLV and sets up camp for a probable return for the Las Vegas Bowl later in December.

San Diego State 42, UNLV 7