Location: Snapdragon Stadium – San Diego, CA
Date/Time: Saturday, November 12th @ 7:45 PM PDT
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1 | KTRB 860 AM
Head-to-head history: San Diego State (5-4, 3-2 MW) holds the edge 23-2-20 over San Jose State (6-2, 4-1 MW) with Brent Brennan led teams 1-5 since 2017.
There’s no point spreads or over/unders worth bringing up this time - except it’s so close, it should be considered even.
So, let’s focus on the color that will make this the Mountain West game to watch this weekend.
One team will either unexpectedly dominate or this mid-November dual will be what most expect as a scrumbastic battle.
“Man, it’s November!” said Brennan. “I think every game will be a four quarter game. That’s how our conference is because everyone’s pretty close.”
“It’s also awesome to play games in November that matter, which hasn’t always been the case for us.”
San Jose State’s last two weeks were tough, hard, dog fights as Brennan describes, especially as home games that were supposed to be “easy?”
But don’t ask Brennan why the last few games weren’t blowouts, as he’ll politely and matter-of-factly debase your quasi-football mind for asking every week.
“A chance to go on the road to play a team as good as San Diego State with such a good history and our epic battles,” said Brennan excitedly. “Ev-er-y year seems like an absolute dog fight with these guys.”
- A 16-13 loss in 2018 at Qualcomm Stadium that the 1-11 Spartans weren’t supposed to be competitive in
- In 2019, a 27-17 loss at CEFCU Stadium
- A big 28-17 win in 2020 in Los Angeles with backup QB Nick Nash
- A double OT 19-13 loss to a 25th-ranked Aztec team
If the Spartans can finally start fast Saturday night, meaning a scoring drive of some type in their first and or second opening drives, it can say three things:
- Chevan Cordiero is able to be Chevan Cordiero a lot longer
- A running game can be exposed earlier on vs. later in games after the defense is buttered up by Cordiero
- The Aztec defense is in for a night
“I think anybody would want to start fast, but sometimes that doesn’t happen,” said Brennan. “We’ve had games where we’ve started fast and others where it just hasn’t.”
Diagnosing why the Spartan offense sometimes takes a while to get out of the mud is as perplexing as figuring out how they were able to sustain high output games for all four quarters.
“Sometimes what causes the slowness can be several things,” said Brennan. “The wrong depth of a receiver or the wrong block or we don’t see the right hole or something really small that stalls out those early drives.”
Adjusting to the punches thrown at you is the ability to adjust on-the-fly by the entirety of the team and coaches is something unsung. In the color theme of this preview, let’s consider it its own thing of unseen, unknown art and beauty.
“I do think the conversations in the headset are always positive between all the coaches in what they’re saying and what they’re seeing,” said Brennan on the synergy that needs to happen behind-the-scenes. ”We’re getting good solutions as the game goes on and it’ll be another incredible test this week.”
If the assumption of starting fast comes to fruition, it also assumes the Spartan secondary can clamp down, while being strategic in run support - as the last two games saw two opposing receiving corps go well over 200 yards, where those throwing yards negated incredible Spartan defensive efforts.
San Diego State offensively has a similar identity to the Spartan offense led by great dual-threat quarterbacks. The Aztecs running game is also potent, but the confidence is with the Spartan defense to keep the Aztecs well enough at bay.
If the assumptions all fall into place, we should see a good Spartan win. If they don’t, it will be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants dog fight of a night.