Since 2008, Utah State (3-5, 1-3 MW) had San Jose State’s (3-5, 2-2 MW) number. 10 straight losses to the Aggies finally ended Saturday night.
In San Jose’s dominant 42-21 victory, the Spartans were able to pound and shock the Aggies with 251 rushing yards, which helped give SJS a huge time of possession advantage. It also helped neuter one of the most potent offenses in the country in Utah State.
Spartan OC Kevin McGiven said he wanted the Spartan running game to be dominant. It was.
After last week’s performance, this time the running game was a three-headed beast led by Kairee Robinson (102 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown), Quali Conley (74 yards on 15 carries and two rushing touchdowns) and QB Chevan Cordeiro (53 yards on 10 attempts). Isaac Jernagin also chipped in 26 ground yards.
McGiven also wanted the passing game to be deliberate. It was.
The calm, cool and collected Cordeiro was highly efficient: 15-20, 119 yards passing and three touchdown passes.
In the first-half, Cordeiro and team started fast with a 14-0 lead, but two fumbles deep in USU’s red zone had the game tied at half-time 14 all.
The Spartans electrified the game in the second-half
The Aggies immediately stalled to start the second-half, as it was the Spartan defense that applied a brutal shock therapy session that continued to take away the explosiveness of the Aggies.
SJS was basically doing everything they wanted to do.
Holding the Aggies to 104 yards rushing, a scattered 160 yards receiving and 21 points was sorely beneath USU’s game averages. USU’s offense didn’t go anywhere: four yards of total offense in the third quarter and 74 yards total offense in the second-half.
USU thought they could run against the supposed worst defense in the MW, but by the time they realized they couldn’t, their passing game also disappeared. It wasn’t until late in the fourth when the Aggies found some success again. But the late, long Aggie scoring drive was for naught.
Before the Aggie’s only second-half score, the Spartans saw converted linebacker Charles Rogers take his first offensive touch as a fullback - a pass in the flat from Cordeiro for a 10-yarder into the end zone. The influence of the run game and the particular power formation sucked up the Aggies giving Rogers the daylight.
Apropos to end the game, Robinson’s one-yard touchdown dive with two minutes left doubly sealed the deal and rejuvenated the idea that core power football is the identity of San Jose State going forward.
The Spartans will still need every ounce of mojo headed to Hawaii where the intangibles matter as much as the numbers and logic do.
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