WHEN: Saturday, October 3, 7:30pm
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
TV: CBS Sports Network
RADIO: 105.7 FM The Max and AM 1700
COACHES: Tim DeRuyter, Rocky Long
SERIES RECORD: 27–23-4, 55th meeting
It’s a welcome sight for Rocky Long to enter Mountain West play against Fresno State. Both teams are struggling and haven’t beaten a team since they opened the season. Fresno State and San Diego State's wins have come against FCS teams in Abilene Christian and San Diego. The Battle for the Oil Can has come at the right time for both teams to possibly right the ship.
Fresno State has been lit up by their last three opponents (Ole Miss, Utah, and San Jose State), whereas San Diego State has played more competitively in their losses (Cal, South Alabama, and Penn State). In this iteration of the Battle for the Oil Can, San Diego State is favored by 9.5 points. In a really down year in the Mountain West, especially in the West division, the Aztecs could pull together some wins and still win the division. They must start with Fresno State tomorrow.
Keys to the Game
Stop making dumb mistakes.
Not including the game against San Diego, the 2015 Aztecs are -4 in turnovers. The Aztecs have made mistakes at inopportune times such as the case last week when a defensive lineman picked up a fumble and took it to the house. The offense has never really found its rhythm and consequently because of mistakes the Aztecs give the ball right back to their opponents.
Blocking for an effective run game
San Diego State needs to find a way to rush. It’s hard to see this team be successful with their best player, and the conference's best player, rushing for under 100 yards a game. Through four games last year Donnel Pumphrey rushed for 467 yards and nine touchdowns. This year through four games, Pumphrey has only 305 yards with 3 touchdowns and going over the century mark once during the South Alabama game.
Make Big Plays
Rashaad Penny has been stellar this season taking two kicks back for touchdowns. Last week against Penn State he had one rush for 55 yards and never got his number called on offense after that. The kicks that Penny returns not only become instant touchdowns but they give great field position to a struggling Smith. Surprisingly, Special teams play has been the lone bright spot for Rocky Long.
Fresno State has faced beatdowns from Power-5 schools and one from in-state rival, San Jose State. Getting beat by Ole Miss was one of the worst performances this year by a Mountain West school. San Diego State hasn’t fared too much better, but Penn State and Cal didn’t put up 73 points. On game day, the offenses for both teams will finally move the ball and actually look like a Division I program, but San Diego State's offensive line will get enough push for Pumphrey and the backs. This is the game where San Diego State finally gets the message and makes mistake-free football.
Fresno State 20 , San Diego State 34