It is typical for writers at the San Diego Union Tribune, Mountain West Connection, and the Daily Aztec to have somewhat inflated expectations for San Diego State football. These eternal optimists often attempt to offset dismal reviews provided by the major sports columnists and reporters who frequently forecast crash-and-burn scenarios for Mountain West teams, with the notable exception of Boise State.
When Sports Illustrated shares the optimism of die-hard Aztec supporters, and proposes the possibility for San Diego State to make a bid for a New Years Six bowl, it's an indicator that the tide of sentiment is changing. It also supports what Aztecs fans believe: this is San Diego State's year.
The Aztecs check in at No. 24 in SI's 2016 college football preseason Top 25 rankings. Fellow Mountain West Conference Boise State checks in at #25. Let's take a moment to appreciate three extraordinary things. First, SDSU is part of SI's Top 25. Secondly, SDSU ranks higher than Boise State. Thirdly, TWO Mountain West teams made SI'S Preseason Rankings.
What are other coaches saying about the #24 Aztecs? "Think Stanford on offense. What they want to do is bludgeon people; you are going to see a lot of two-tight-end, two-back sets. The passing game, led by quarterback Christian Chapman, is average, but it doesn't need to be great. The problem is running backs Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny are so good that they can take it to the house at any time."
Winning against Cal will likely secure SDSU's place in the Top 25 going into conference play.