Week 1 Game: San Diego State Aztecs vs. New Hampshire Wildcats
Date: Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Radio: ESPN 1700 AM, 105.7 MAX FM
San Diego State vs. New Hampshire Breakdown
During their fifth season under head coach Rocky Long, the Aztecs finished 2015 with an 11-3 record and made a powerful statement in its 42-7 Hawaii Bowl dismantling of Cincinnati.
A big reason for their success was the two-headed running back hydra of Donnel Pumphrey and Chase Price, who collectively rushed for 2,661 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. San Diego State's rushing offense put up 233.29 yards per game on the ground because of them. Price is gone, but Pumphrey is back and ready to rock.
It doesn't seem as though New Hampshire will be ready to shut down the Aztecs' star ball carrier. The Wildcats gave up about 200 yards rushing per game last year. On the other hand, San Diego State and its No. 7-ranked rushing defense from 2015 will return seven starters and look to keep the Wildcats off the board.
New Hampshire: Not to be Overlooked
The Aztecs have worked their way into the national conversation with SI, ESPN and USA Today Top-25 preseason rankings (like a basketball team that doesn't play defense, AP doesn't track West Coast football). The preseason will determine a lot for SDSU. While many are considering this game a non factor as they anticipate the matchups against Cal and Northern Illinois, Coach Rocky Long has no disillusions about what it would mean not to take this week's game seriously- or to consider it a given.
He knows a loss would be downright catastrophic.
"You think those New Hampshire guys are coming out here and are going to just let us win? That's a joke," Long said about this game. "They're coming out here to shock the world and beat us. Anybody that presents that deal that the game is easy has never played and has never coached."
Aztec seniors still recall the shocking loss to Eastern Illinois to start 2013 at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego State entered the game two-touchdown favorites against the FCS team, but caved while being outscored 21-3 in the second half of a 40-19 loss.
"We kind of looked past Eastern Illinois, getting ready for our games after that, thinking we were just going to show up and blow them out," senior linebacker Calvin Munson said. "They came in here more prepared than we were and they beat us."
Long will continue to bang the pay-attention drum.
"If they want to believe that this game will be easy, we'll be in trouble," he said.
There's the undercurrent of importance about 1-0.
San Diego State Offensive Stats
Passing Offense: 142 ypg (No. 119 in the nation)
Rushing Offense: 233.29 ypg (No. 14 in the nation)
Total Offense: 375.3 ypg (No. 85 in the nation)
Scoring Offense: 32.1 ppg (No. 46 in the nation)
New Hampshire Offensive Stats
Passing Offense: 211.83 ypg
Rushing Offense: 146.9 ypg
Total Offense: 358.8 ypg
Scoring Offense: 23.92 ppg
San Diego State Defensive Stats
Passing Defense: 178.6 ypg (No. 10 in the nation)
Rushing Defense: 108.71 ypg (No. 7 in the nation)
Total Defense: 287.3 ypg (No. 5 in the nation)
Scoring Defense: 16.4 ppg (No. 6 in the nation)
Turnover Margin: 1.57 tpg (No. 1 in the nation)
New Hampshire Defensive Stats
Passing Defense: 191.33 ypg
Rushing Defense: 199.3 ypg
Total Defense: 390.7 ypg
Scoring Defense: 22 ppg
Turnover Margin: 0.67 tpg
Spread: San Diego State -32.5
San Diego State vs. New Hampshire Prediction
Pumphrey will be returning kickoffs in special teams, and will get a lot of touches, making the most of every single one of them. The senior running back will put up at least 150 yards and possibly four total touchdowns in this one. San Diego State will smack New Hampshire in the mouth with the ground game and put the Wildcats on lockdown on the other end.
Final Score Prediction: San Diego State 52, New Hampshire 16