A down, but not out, San Diego State (9-3, 6-2 MW) football team packed their bags for a return trip against the surging Wyoming Cowboys (8-4, 6-2 MW) in the cold.
Surging might not be the right descriptor as the Cowboys were soundly beat last week by New Mexico (36-56). Just like the gritty little Aztecs who are coming off a blow out home loss by Colorado State (63-31). Let’s lay it out there that by saying both teams were already looking towards the rematch in Laramie.
No one really has the answer as to why and how both teams lost horrendously, but what’s tangible is that the Aztecs are still favored by 6.5 on the road against a team that held Christian Chapman out of the end zone for a game-winning 2-point conversion.
The Aztecs are in for another dogfight, so here are their keys to victory.
Defense needs to step up
Rocky Long knows how good Josh Allen is, but still the Aztecs had no answer to shut him down. Allen was the biggest threat to the defense two weeks ago, so tomorrow might be Ronley Lakalaka’s day to step up and shine.
As a unit they have to get off the field. The Cowboys held on the ball for over 36 minutes during their last meeting and the Aztec defense didn’t look as tough as they did at sea-level.
QB1 plays like a QB1
The 2nd year QB, Christian Chapman has to step up this time. He earned his keep last year during the MWC championship game, but this time his mobility and arm might be the deciding factor in this game. He’s been slept on in most of our keys to victory, but this is the game where Chapman has to play like a solid Division-I QB.
He needs to channel former Utah Ute and current NFL QB Alex Smith to make the throws and scramble when needed. The Wyoming defense shut down the running game and the offensive line couldn’t get their blocks. It’s going to be huge here for the QB to be the playmaker because Donnel Pumphrey might see his numbers dive below 100 yards again.
Put the team on your back Special Teams
Rashaad Penny proved why teams shouldn’t kick to him. The Cowboys got the memo late, but kicked to Juwan Washington and also got burned. Clearly, the kick returners kept the Aztecs within victory.
After last leaving Laramie with a 2-point differential, every extra point and field goal has to count. Don’t forget that Coach Long won’t be hesitant again to attempt another 2-point conversion. HINT: Look for Long’s guys to find a way to feed the ball to Pumphrey, if the situation arises. Either way, it’s going to come down on tallying the small things on special teams to win.
The Aztecs defense will be gassed from chasing Josh Allen east-west and north-south. The difference will be that Chapman makes some clutch plays with his feet and the defense finds a way to take the ball away from Wyoming. Pumphrey won’t get off the ground and Penny and Washington might be rotated in more frequently. It’s another shoot out in Laramie, and somehow the Aztecs come up short.
San Diego State 28, Wyoming 31.