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San Diego State Football: Keys to Beating Utah State Football

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The San Diego State Aztecs host the Utah State Aggies in what could be a preview of the Mountain West title game.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

WEEK 8: Utah State Aggies (4-2, 3-0 MW) vs San Diego State Aztecs (4-3, 3-0 MW)

WHEN: Friday, October 23, 7:30 PM PT

WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

TV: ESPN2

COACHES: Matt Wells, Rocky Long

SERIES RECORD: 10-1 San Diego State, 12th meeting all time

The Aggies come into San Diego riding high after beating Mountain division favorite, Boise State. The victory has given the Aggies an inside track to winning the Mountain division and also an undefeated record in Mountain West play. The Aztecs also have the inside track to winning the West division after stringing together victories against the weaker Wes division, making for an interesting game at Qualcomm Stadium. The game is now what a possible preview of the Mountain West title game.

Keys to Victory

Battle of Defenses

San Diego State and Utah State tout stout defenses. San Diego State almost blanked the Spartans last week, and Utah State forced Boise State to turn the ball over eight times. San Diego State is the 13th best defense in the NCAA while Utah State is 20th.

It’s going to be up to San Diego State to defend against a mobile quarterback, something they haven’t seen yet in 2015. Kent Myers took over for the injured Chuckie Keeton and not only can Myers pass, he’s been able to rush. Against Colorado State, he threw for 137 yards, one touchdown and ran for 191 yards and one touchdown. Without Dakota Turner and Randy Ricks for the Aztecs, it’s going to be key on defense they stop the quarterback.

Run Now, Pass Later

San Diego State has picked up the ground game, and it’s looking brighter every game for Donnel Pumphrey. Ever since conference play began the Aztecs have rushed over 200+ yards and Pumphrey has averaged 141 yards in that time span.

It’s obvious that Maxwell Smith needs to be 100% game manager. The good thing is that he's been excelling in playing his part. Currently he has gone101 attempts without throwing an interception. His last interception-- September 12 at Cal. Though he hasn’t thrown over 200 yards during his time at San Diego State, he last two games he’s completed over 70% of his passes. And his favorite receiver? — Pumphrey with 18 receptions, 247 yards, and one touchdown.

Next Man Up

The biggest hole right now for San Diego State is on defense as Dakota Turner and Randy Ricks are likely to be out for the season. Ryan Dunn and Jordan Watson, both sophomores haven't had much experience this season but are going to be in the rotation for the up-coming game. Sophomore safety Trey Lomax might be available for San Diego State by game-time, which would be an upgrade over Kameron Kelly who made some mistakes at the game against San Jose State. The defense is a strong unit, but it’s going to come down to the rest of the roster to step up for the consistent guys on the sideline.

Prediction

This game is a true defensive battle, but San Diego State has the edge with their running back. Utah State hasn’t given up a 100-yard rusher since Utah’s Devontae Booker. Though different running backs, Pumphrey and Chase Price will be a 1-2 punch to the Utah State defense. Myers will rush over 100 yards because San Diego State is down a few good men on defense. But keep this stat in mind, San Diego State has been picked the underdog the last two games. On Friday, the better defense will prevail.

San Diego State 21, Utah State 17