This has been a long time coming. The last time the San Diego State Aztecs were ranked in the AP Top 25 was in 1995, and they were ranked 25th. That makes this appointment 21 years in the making, and everybody in the NCAA agrees it is much deserved.
San Diego State is on a 13 game winning streak spanning back to the start of 2015 in-conference play. The Aztecs ran the table winning by an average 24.8 points; won the MW Championship against a very formidable Air Force, and then dismantled Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl 42-7. The Aztecs did not find themselves in the top 25, due to lackluster pre-season play last year.
This year is a different story. SDSU shut out New Hampshire, and then proceeded to end the 5-year deficit against P5 teams with a hard fought win against the stunned California Golden Bears. This weekend, the Aztecs took control of its match against Northern Illinois who were a quarterback down, but who have also managed a 35-2 at-home record since 2011.
The Aztecs made it 35-3, and during the game emotions ran high. Several Huskies were injured including one player who had to be carted off on a stretcher. Personal fouls were frequent, and Northern Illinois gave up unnecessary yardage.
Next week the Aztecs meet up with South Alabama for some unfinished business. During the 2015 season, the Aztecs lost in overtime to the Jaguars, and it was considered a bad loss. This coming week, the Aztecs will likely make their mark against the team that got the best of them just a year ago, aiming to win with a vengeance.
For in-conference play, the Aztecs have a fairly manageable season with, for the second year in a row, no pairing against Boise State. Unimaginable as it is, many predict the two will meet for the MW Championship, possibly both undefeated. Boise is presently the only team in the Mountain West that can potentially upset a healthy San Diego State.
While many attribute this season's success in part to the phenom Donnel Pumphrey, the Aztecs have been scoring with offense, defense and special teams. And, it's fair to say that all teams on this talented Aztec program are getting the job done. While Pumphrey uses gifted visability; is able to cut back like very few players ever have, and has incredible eye-foot coordination, the offensive line has often paved the way for him to run down the middle.
Christian Chapman has emerged as a talented Quarterback. Other mature players including Rashaad Penny, Damontae Kazee, Nico Siragusa and Calvin Munson have all given this team a sharp edge.
How long can San Diego State hold onto its new Top 25 status? While it is possible that they will go for quite some time before any decisive losses occur, it's safe to say they could keep status throughout the season.
As for next season, San Diego State will have a competent quarterback, another strong defensive line, respectable special teams, and an influx of new talent- with several 4-star prospects hailing from Texas. They will also have a new freshman running back from Las Vegas whose background parallels Donnel Pumphrey.
For now, though, the Aztecs will relish its deserved top 25 ranking, and be recognized as one of this year's elite programs. Hats off to Rocky Long and the San Diego State coaching staff, and the players who have played their hearts out.
There's a lot of football to be played yet. So far SDSU is making all of the right moves to position itself for a NY6 bid.
Here are the complete rankings and the USA TODAY poll does not have San Diego State ranked, and Boise State is still receiving votes in both polls.