#22 SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (6-0, 2-0) VS AIR FORCE FALCONS (6-1, 3-1)
WHEN: Saturday, October 23rd. Kick off is at 4:00pm PT.
WHERE: Falcon Stadium, USAF Academy, CO.
HOW TO WATCH: CBS Sports Network
HEAD-TO-HEAD: SDSU has won the last 8 meetings in a row, dating back to 2010. The Aztecs and Falcons last met on Oct. 12th, 2018, when SDSU won 21-17. Overall, Air Force has won more games with a 19-17 record against the Aztecs.
San Diego State is looking to start 7-0 for the first time since 1975 and third time in program history, and as well as a 3-0 start in conference play.
The Air Force Falcons are off to a good start to the year, looking to improve to 7-1 overall and 4-1 with a win over the Aztecs.
This game will be a test for SDSU as the Air Force should be their toughest matchup since Week 3 against Utah. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Air Force has a 54.9% chance of winning this one compared to SDSU’s 45.1% chance. One of the biggest challenges and games of the year for the Aztecs will go down in Colorado Springs Saturday night.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR SDSU
If there was a game for the San Diego State defense to allow the fewest rushing yards, this would be the game. Ranked in the Top 3 of rushing defenses in the country, the best in the Mountain West, SDSU will have to at least neutralize Air Force running back Brad Roberts.
Roberts leads the Mountain West in rushing with 116.9 yards per game, 4.6 yards per carry and 818 yards total on 178 attempts. Stopping, or at least neutralizing Roberts will be a key to victory for the Aztecs.
Not too far behind Roberts on the rushing leader board is SDSU running back Greg Bell. Bell, the Southern California native is ranked 3rd amongst Mountain West running backs with 80.7 yards per game, 4.9 yards per carry and 565 yards total on 115 attempts.
This game will be a battle of the running backs; Greg Bell and the rest of the running back core including special teams return man Jordan Byrd will have to find some holes early and score often.
The Aztecs are 52-2 in their last 54 games when rushing for 200 yards. Getting those 200 yards, whether it be from the running back core or from either scrambling QB (Lucas Johnson, Jordon Brookshire), will be huge in trying to get another Mountain West win.
Special teams will also play a factor in this one, with Mid-season All-American selection Matt Araiza likely to play a key role yet again. Deep punts and automatic field goals amd extra points will be another key to victory as it has all year for the Aztecs. Look out for Araiza in this one.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR AIR FORCE
Brad Roberts. That’s the key. The Junior running back has rushed for over 100 yards in all but 2 games this year. He has scored multiple touchdowns in 3 of the 7 games played, at least one score in 5 of the 7 games. In his last three games, including a huge win over Boise State last week, Roberts has rushed for 420 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The obvious key to victory for the Falcons is Roberts rushing for over 100 yards again, but they have to do it against an Aztec defense that allows 54.6 rushing yards a game.
Both teams are rather similar on offense. A decent quarterback with a stellar running back. Air Force may not be as good on defense, so that will be another key to victory against the undefeated Aztecs.
It is crucial for this defense to step it up because the Falcon offense is off the charts. In fact, Air Force has gained the most yards on offense in the conference with 2,355 yards overall and 336.4 yards per game. They’ve also scored the most touchdowns with 27.
The Air Force rushing defense isn’t too far behind the Aztec rushing defense as they are ranked 2nd, allowing 91.3 yards per game on the ground. With both run defenses being brick walls, look for both quarterbacks resorting to the air. This may cause mistakes, so capitalizing on those and having strong defense for both sides will be the key to victory.
Despite Air Force being the favorite, the Aztecs have a slight upper hand with their run defense. Although both sides are good, SDSU has proven they will stop anyone on the ground.
With that said, Brad Roberts will be the defining moment if the Aztec run defense is for real. Expect him to either have another 100 yard game or be shut down.
SDSU is playing for their first 7-0 start since 1975, a feat that certainly looks accomplishable with this matchup against Air Force. All quarterbacks, Jordon Brookshire/Lucas Johnson of SDSU and Haaziq Daniels of Air Force will likely have to change their game plan if their respective star running backs get shut down.
Brookshire, the likely starting QB for SDSU has thrown for 521 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Haaziq Daniels for Air Force has thrown for 553 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Both squads are very similar, so this matchup can go either way.
SDSU 24, Air Force 21