SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (2-0) vs UTAH UTES (1-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 18th. Kick off at 4:00pm.
WHERE: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA
HOW TO WATCH: CBS Sports Network
HEAD TO HEAD: The last time the Aztecs faced Utah, the Utes won a close one, 38-34 on November 20th, 2010. Utah has won the last 5 meetings in a row, dating back to 2006.
Coming off a tough loss to BYU last week, losing 26-17, Utah went from being ranked #21 in the Nation to being unranked per AP top 25. The Utes are hoping to stay on the right side of the .500 mark getting to 2-1.
SDSU is coming off a monster win against Arizona, 38-14, and will look to keep the undefeated (2-0) record and the 12 non-conference game win streak alive.
KEY TO VICTORY FOR SDSU
The Aztecs certainly have momentum coming in to this one after finding exceptional 1st half success against PAC-12’s Arizona Wildcats last week. Quarterback Jordon Brookshire passed for 183 yards and 2 touchdown’s, finding senior wideout Daniel Bellinger 3 times for 113 yards and a TD. Senior running back and the Aztecs’ pride and joy, Greg Bell, rushed over 100 yards again (second time in two games) with a TD on just 17 carries.
The Aztecs’ run game has been the key to victory up until this week. After averaging 267 yards per game in the first two games of the season, everyone knows they can run the ball. Greg Bell is a beast and will see a lot of touches against Utah.
This week, the key to victory is defense. With a great start (2-0) against non-conference opponents this season, the Aztecs are looking to stay that way going into conference play. On the bright side, the Aztec defense hasn’t allowed their opponent to rush over 100 yards total in the first two games. Utah likes to run the ball and can also pass it effectively, similar to the SDSU offense. Aztecs will have to read the offense quick and early to stay on top of things in this one.
Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer will need to come out firing, often and accurately. Last game he threw for 147 yards on 15/26 passing with 1 touchdown and an interception. If SDSU can find ways to pressure Brewer and cause mistakes, they will be able to capitalize and outscore the Utes. It could be a high scoring game, so aggressive, yet smart defense will be the key to victory for the biggest game of the year for the Aztecs so far.
KEY TO VICTORY FOR UTAH
Last game against BYU was a game Utah needs to flush and then reconnect to their roots. Utah is a solid football team, which was put on display in their season opener against Weber State, putting up 40 points. They’ll have to step it up on the road against SDSU.
Key to victory for the Utes; limit mistakes and utilize the passing game. The Aztecs have allowed 505 passing yards this season (2 games) so QB Charlie Brewer will need to utilize that weakness and find targets downfield. Big plays will be huge for Utah as they will need confidence and momentum boosts throughout the game.
Utah will have to find ways to be creative and keep the Aztecs guessing. One touchdown in 3 quarters is not going to cut it against good teams. The Utes will need to be more aggressive on offense and get better on third down. Against BYU, they converted just 2 of 9 third downs. If Utah can find their rhythm and get going on offense, they can be back to that #21 in the nation potential.
The SDSU run defense is tough to get by and will be challenging for the Utes, although I see a big game coming for freshman running back Micah Bernard, who rushed for 146 yards and a TD against BYU. If Utah can find their way to the endzone on the ground and through the air, they will walk away with their second win of the season and 6th in a row against SDSU.
Utah will be SDSU’s hardest test yet as they are favored by 9. Though coming off such a monster win against Arizona, and Utah coming off a tough loss to BYU, I think SDSU has a good chance.
If Utah can connect through the air and find the endzone more than once per half, on top of stopping SDSU’s gritty offense, they’ll win this matchup.
Utah allowed 231 yards on the ground to BYU. The Aztecs are 49-2 when rushing for more than 200 yards, which they have done in the first two games of the season, both ending in W’s. I would expect the Aztecs to rush for 200 yards for the third time in three games.
If Utah can’t get going on offense early and allows more than 200 rushing yards, SDSU will run away with a 3-0 record by the end of the night on Saturday, winning their 13th consecutive non-conference matchup.
SCORE: SDSU 30, Utah 24