San Diego State Aztecs (0-0) vs New Mexico State Aggies (0-1)
When: Saturday, September 4th. Kick-off at 7:30pm PT
Where: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA
How To Watch: CBS Sports Network
Head-To-Head: NM State and SDSU have met 12 times since 1936. The Aztecs are 10-1-1 in those games, 7-0 at home, winning the last 8 in a row since 1969. They last met in 2019 when SDSU won 31-10. The Aztecs are looking to add to their 11-game at-home win streak against non-conference opponents as well as going for a 10th straight home opener win.
KEY TO VICTORY FOR SDSU
Despite playing at their “home away from home” at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, which is 113 miles away from campus, the Aztecs look to extend their at-home win streak against New Mexico State. The biggest question for San Diego State this year was who would be starting quarterback. When fall camp began, Head Coach Brady Hoke was torn between who would start behind center.
With returners Jordon Brookshire and Lucas Johnson on Hoke’s mind for the starting role during camp, Hoke said he and offensive coordinator Jeff Hecklinski were “comfortable with where [the quarterback rotation] is at.” Now, with the season opener around the corner and after convincing Coach Hoke, Brookshire is the starter. He will need to be at his best for SDSU to claim victory.
In this season opener, although it may be sloppy, Brookshire is certainly looking to impress. And impress he must do in order to keep the starting role and begin the season with a bang. Communication between Head Coach Brady Hoke and the offense will be key in limiting the sloppiness as well as Brookshire completing passes early, maintaining a rhythm. This will fuel the motivation needed for this game and set the tone for the rest of the season.
The Aztecs will need to utilize their explosive run game as well. Pre-season second-team all-mountain west running back Greg Bell will be a player to watch in this one and will be key in keeping the NM State defense on their heels. Bell will be used in the backfield as an explosive playmaker, running the ball and receiving the ball. Execution of plays on early down’s and playing aggressive defense will be the key to victory for the Aztecs.
KEY TO VICTORY FOR NM STATE
Despite a season opening loss to UTEP, the Aggies are respectively coming off a cancelled year in 2020, which was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the fact that New Mexico State is an FBS independent. It’s easy to blame the opening day loss on inexperience and not having confidence in the roster. New Mexico State Junior Jonah Johnson got the start against UTEP, putting together a few solid drives that entered the red zone, although only completing 8 of 24 passing attempts. He will have to step it up and limit mistakes in order to be successful against San Diego State.
A key to victory for the Aggies is stepping up on defense. SDSU will come out firing on offense, as did UTEP. Reading the offense and putting pressure on QB Jordon Brookshire will help limit the damage. If the Aztecs experience any kind of stress from the Aggies’ defense there is a chance they will make mistakes. Getting stops early on drives and maybe a turn over or two will keep NM state in competition.
On top of pressuring SDSU on defense, the Aggies will then need to capitalize on offense. If Top-11 Impact JUCO Transfer QB Jonah Johnson gets the start, he must not repeat the mistakes he made against UTEP which consisted of throwing two interceptions, one of those being in the endzone. He will have to limit mistakes and utilize offensive weapons to be successful in this one.
New Mexico State’s defense is coming off a rough season opener against UTEP last week allowing 30 points on 452 yards of offense. SDSU will look to do the same this Saturday, utilizing all offensive weapons, setting the tone for the season and prove they are a top team in the Mountain West. I expect San Diego State to have the upper hand on both sides of the ball, but whichever team makes the most mistakes will take the L.
Although this game is being played 2 hours from campus, I see the Aztecs getting their 12th at-home non-conference win and 10th straight at-home season opener win. New Mexico State will be no match for SDSU’s offense.
Score: SDSU 27, NM State 10