Friday night was a major test for San Jose State, and it passed with flying colors.
The Spartans took care of business with a 32-21 win over New Mexico. It marked SJSU’s third win on the season, and it’s now halfway to bowl eligibility.
SJSU jumped out to a commanding 26-0 lead. It was the most unanswered points the team has scored since a 30-0 run against Colorado State last season.
The Lobos made a push with a touchdown in each of the final four quarters, but it wasn’t enough. Behind four Matt Mercurio field goals and 405 yards through the air from Josh Love, the Spartans proved that they are ready to compete in the Mountain West.
Here are some takeaways from Friday night.
This defense can take the ball away at will
As of the writing of this article (right before football has kicked off Saturday morning,) San Jose State leads the nation in interceptions with 11. The Spartans had 13 all last season. It’s an absolutely incredible turn-around for a defense that many (myself included) expected to be among the worst in the MW this season.
Its four interceptions and two fumble-recoveries contribute to coach Brent Brennan’s biggest goal of the season: be top-25 in the nation’s turnover margin.
It seems to be paying off. Once again, at the time of this writing, SJSU is No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin at +11.
The long-ball came in clutch
One of Josh Love’s best attributes is his deep-ball. He has an absolute cannon. But you can only take advantage of that if your receivers can get open down the field.
Boy, did they ever.
The Spartans torched the Lobos all night with the deep passing-attack. Tre Walker proved why he’s so valuable to the Spartans as a deep-threat with his seven catch, 130 yard performance.
Bailey Gaither even got in on the action and returned to his pre-Achilles tear form. His 80-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter blew the game wide-open and became the highlight of the night.
Love needs help if he’s going to get this team to a bowl. The receiving corps did all it could Friday night to help get them there.
A bowl game isn’t only in sight, but it looks attainable
Raise your hand if you had SJSU in a bowl before the season started? Stop lying, no you didn’t.
With three wins and seven games remaining, a bowl appearance looks more and more possible each week.
Don’t get me wrong, the second half is absolutely brutal for the Spartans. They’ll have to upset one of Army, Boise State, San Diego State and Fresno State to get in. And that’s assuming the Spartans take care of business against Nevada and UNLV.
But for the first time in a long time as SJSU, there is hope. There’s excitement around this football team, and legitimate optimism.
Let’s see if they keep on rolling.