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First Spartan home game in a month has uncertainties

Week 5: San Jose State looks to bounce back big over New Mexico State

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Southern California photo by: Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Location: CEFCU Stadium – San Jose, CA

Date/Time: Saturday, October 2nd @ 7:30 PM PDT

Broadcast: NBC Sports & Mountain West Network

Radio: KTRB (860 AM, San Francisco) & Sirius XM Radio Channel 382

Head-to-head: San Jose State holds a significant 17-3 record advantage over the independent Aggies of New Mexico State.

Often mistaken for the Lobos, this Aggies team is currently a four touchdown underdog against the Spartans this Saturday. Either way, that spread says a lot.

What to expect of the Spartans

The question on the back of so many minds is the health of Spartan signal-caller Nick Starkel after being knocked out of the game last week with what looked to be a shoulder injury.

A huge majority of San Jose’s offense runs through him and without Starkel, the Spartans could conceivably be grounded.

Even if the Spartans can just pull off a win where they are hugely favored, it may just be disguising the problems until they hit like competition.

Beyond Starkel, the QBs behind him are green. Nick Nash was the next QB in line with real game experience, but he’s now learning to be a game-experienced receiver.

True freshman Walker Eget and redshirt freshman Natano Woods had expected shaky showings in the Western Michigan loss. The only upside there was getting real-time game experience.

It will be interesting to see what OC Kevin McGiven rolls out and interesting if this may be the type of game to experiment rather than risk Starkel if he happens to be questionable to return.

The Spartan defense, on the other hand, is the only reliable thing to count on through the first four games. Their expectation against the Aggies should be of the “pin-the-ears-back” variety.

Who are the Aggies of New Mexico?

The 1-4 Aggies are also juggling a quarterback injury bug.

The expectation is to see backup QB Dino Maldonado as the Aggie starter. Maldonado threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a win over South Carolina State last week.

The Aggies normal starting QB Johah Johnson is noted as a possibility this week. Johnson has a wrist injury.

New Mexico’s Weston Eget is a promising QB under Aggie head coach Doug Martin. Eget has been nursing a knee injury, but Martin isn’t completely ruling anything out.

Eget’s brother is Spartan, Walker Eget, who was 1-8 in a backup role last week in the loss to Western Michigan.

An Eget brother face-off is a perfect Cinderella story that plays well on both sides, especially since this potential scenario will to be televised on NBC Sports.

Key metrics in a Spartan win

Though the win expectation is high and even if Starkel can play, the focus has to be on offensive line play, a run game and a mostly penalty-free game.

  • A good O-line day is no sacks allowed on Saturday
  • A good run day is 150 yards individually or collectively
  • A mostly penalty-free day is less than a handful at most

If the Spartans lose or even win a close game over the Aggies, the skeptics may well be right that this San Jose season will not be a repeat of their 2020 championship season.

The reality is the Spartans have more athletes to win this Saturday.