San Diego State vs Northern Illinois
This Saturday the Aztecs come home to San Diego County Credit Union Stadium (completely open to suggestions on a abbreviation or nickname) to play host to the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Northern Illinois comes in to town at 2 - 1 on the season and in 1st place in the Mid American Conference. Here are some brief notes to help keep you in the know for the game.
Results so far this season.
Week 1: 23-20 loss vs Boston College
Week 2: 38-10 win vs Eastern Illinois
Week 3: 21-17 win at Nebraska
Week 4: Bye
The obvious game on that list is the win at Nebraska which, even if you want to try and make a case for this being a down year for the Huskers, is a huge win. That coupled with a bye last week means that NIU is has momentum and rest, a combo that will make this a hard fight for the Aztecs.
Their run game is their strong suit, averaging 160 yards per game as a team this season, and will probably be their go to with all the success that SDSU’s secondary has had this season. Look for #23 Jordan Huff to take most of the carries, he has been their workhorse so far this season. They have had a lot of success with running to get in the red zone then passing for scores for far this season.
A key for Aztecs fans to focus on is the ability to shut down the run on 1st and 2nd downs and force long 3rd down conversions, forcing NIU into long pass plays should be a sign of things going the Aztec’s way. We have begun to see how good Trey Lomax, Tariq Thompson, Kameron Kelly and the entire secondary is a open field tackling so look of rather names to be called in helping shut down the run in creative and interesting ways.
Defense has been the Huskies’ biggest asset so far this season, including a pair of interceptions returned for scores in the first half vs Nebraska. The cornerbacks for NIU are fast, with good hand and field vision. The players to look out for are cornerbacks #7 Jawuan Johnson and #19 Shauwn Lurry, who will be used to try and match up against MIkah Holder.
Where things begin to get a bit more optimistic for Aztec fans is in the run game, according to about every statistic available on ESPN the Huskies has a very nationally average run defense, and that is after 3 weeks of facing people who are not currently getting Heisman attention. So it should stand to reason that SDSU’s fans should look for a heavy dose of the run early and often. The big question for SDSU fans will be who do they target in the passing game, will the Tight Ends continue to be the play action knock out punch we have seen so far this year or will there be a more Holder-centric game plan.
With SDSU now ranked 19th in the nation this game is equally about winning or losing for the Aztecs as it is about how they win. They will be expected to play, and win, like a top team in the nation who has one of the most productive backs in the game on their team.
Game time is 7:30 P.M. PST and it will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.