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SJSU Preview: Why the Spartans are heavy favorites over the Aztecs

Odds favor a change of the guard

San Jose State v Hawai’i Photo by Darryl Oumi

Date/Time: Saturday, November 18, 2023 – 7:30 PM PST

Location: CEFCU Stadium | San Jose, CA

Broadcast: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 860 KTRB AM

Head-to-Head: In 46 games over an 88-year span, San Diego State (3-7, 1-5 MW) leads the series 24-2-20 over San Jose State (5-5, 4-2 MW). Spartan head coach Brent Brennan is 1-5 vs. the Aztecs.

With the regular season down to its last two games for San Jose State, there’s a consensus and gut-feeling the Spartans should give the business to the Aztecs this time around.


From the surface, it’s simple.

The last place Aztecs are suffering. Their first losing season since 2009 is inevitable. Their fair-weather fans are abandoning them. Their coach is unexpectedly retiring. They’re at the bottom-tier of most statistical categories.

The Aztecs are wounded and spiraling, while the Spartans are surging and demolishing worthy opponents the last four games 171-63 to put it lightly.

But Brennan and company knows better. Anything cornered and wounded is doubly dangerous. The Aztecs relishing the roll of spoilers will certainly be the best consolation.

In what we know of Brennan, DC Derrick Odum and OC Kevin McGiven, the Spartans have to leave SDSU in its wake for their own good and for the Aztecs, really.

Just as the beloved Spartan brotherhood is highly sewn into the fabric of Brennan’s program – SJS has to also show that an absolute, collective killer instinct is something they can turn on full-tilt at will, regardless of anything on the other side.

For SDSU, there’s a generation or two that’s never experienced all that goes with losing. Or maybe it’s a blip in their timeline and they’ll be back with a vengeance next year. Odds are against something long-term being built overnight. Sometimes an organization needs its medicine just like how the Spartans took theirs.

You’ve lost that loving feeling

In the cycle of gridiron life, the Spartans certainly know that losing feeling. That cycle of life is simply part of the big picture.

As SDSU has been highly successful for years, they may in fact be headed in a down cycle while San Jose State is trending big the other way with a very different team from just a season ago - mostly organically.

Even what the Spartans are attracting from the portal is based on SJSU’s reputation preceding them - a big sign that Brennan’s program at the core is the reason.

To spell it out, the core is all the parts of being human that nurtures and develops talent, growth and goodness. Blech, right? Perhaps, but in the end you have people that win at life, which is of far greater significance - as corny is it sounds to write and to fathom for others.

“I do this job because I love the relationships with the players and the involvement in their lives,” said Brennan. “They’re at this crazy and exciting time of their college years and the growth they go through and that’s what I enjoy – seeing them improve, graduate or even get an internship.”

Brennan certainly knows the pains and emotions of the downside and upside. With MWC covering his program since the beginning, we can confirm it’s all authentic through all the thick and thin. His heart and purpose are on his sleeve, so-to-speak.

“All that other stuff is a part of it,” said Brennan on the negativity one can experience. “If you’re in any kind of leadership role, there’s people lining up to give you a hard time and that’s just the way it is.”

With the rumblings read and heard around Aztec-land, they’re leaking whatever culture, togetherness and brotherhood that matched that San Diego weather. If SDSU’s administration is righteous in some sense, they’ll know what human values are needed first.

Spartans always have their guards up

If there’s one thing echoed from Brennan or any players that have taken the podium or from field interviews or from even body language, there’s always positivity and improvement to constantly seek out regardless of the wins and especially, the terrible losses.

Against San Diego State, the preparation is as if the Spartans are always competing against another ranked team – for the respect of yourself and your opponent.

“It’s a constant work in progress and you’re constantly still looking for an edge,” said Brennan on how schemes and plays are always a living-breathing effort.

“You never really know what you’re going to get from your opponent, because they’re watching all your film and they might present you with something you haven’t seen yet, which is always part of the chess game,” added Brennan.

“Anything that gives you a chance,” continued Brennan.

With the seniors last hoorah at CEFCU and with Brennan never letting the Spartans rest on their laurels, chances are supposed to be great that San Jose State pulls out a good win Saturday night.

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