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San Diego State vs. Wyoming game preview: Aztecs key to beating the Cowboys

West-division leading San Diego State fresh off the bye hosts a Wyoming team looking for a victory.

A victorious San Diego State at Fort Collins, is ready to take on Wyoming at home.
A victorious San Diego State at Fort Collins, is ready to take on Wyoming at home.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

WEEK 11: Wyoming Cowboys (1-9, 1-5 MW) vs San Diego State Aztecs (6-3, 5-0 MW)

WHEN: Saturday, November 14, 7:30 PM PST

WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

TV: CBS Sports Network

COACHES: Craig Bohl, Rocky Long

SERIES RECORD: 18-16 Wyoming, 35th meeting all time

San Diego State fresh off a bye week hosts Wyoming for the homecoming game. A struggling Wyoming team comes to San Diego with nothing to lose, but on the other sideline the host team will see the postseason with a victory tonight. San Diego State has mowed through the conference on a five-game winning streak and looks to extend that until the Mountain West Championship game in December. The Cowboys will do everything in their power to stop the run and upset the West-leading Aztecs.

Keys to Victory

Come Strong from the Bye

Coach Rocky Long knows that even though they’ve had ample time to rest, the bye week pauses their momentum and intensity. He might've run practice this week like a normal week, but tonight the game might move faster than they remembered. It’s a delicate balance of allowing rest and then bringing the team back to speed. With Wyoming’s season-starting quarterback, Cameron Coffman, coming back from an injury, San Diego State must come back strong and retain their focus.

Making Plays on Defense

San Diego State’s 3-3-5 defense has been a monster in Mountain West play creating 13 turnovers and not allowing over 400 yards of total offense. This defense is the 11th best defense in all of FBS in yards allowed (297.7) and the last game at Colorado State was the first game in conference play where the Aztecs both gave up over 100 passing yards and 100 rushing yards. This defensive unit is making strides to be a a memorable defense in SDSU history.

If You Can’t Pass, Then Run

Maxwell Smith knows the deal and at this point of the season he must protect the football. Though he and his offense has not allowed a turnover through the last three games, Smith has not thrown more than 15 times since starting conference play. The flip side to that is that he hasn’t thrown an interception since week 2. Factor in their excellent running game, and that number isn’t as horrid. Donnel Pumphrey is on tear in conference play rushing averaging 145.2 yards, 1.8 touchdowns. With a rested week, a healthy Pumphrey should continue the Aztecs’ push for a conference championship.

Prediction

Wyoming’s 1-9 record might deceive the nation, but they have some talent especially in running back Brian Hill. The San Diego State defense will allow him to run a bit over 100 yards, but Hill will accrue that in garbage time. Wyoming is -10 in turnovers this year and with a hungry San Diego State defense that capitalizes on mistakes, there’s no chance Wyoming stays in this game. Pumphrey goes for 200 yards and Rocky Long should feel proud of his work during the bye week.

Wyoming 10, San Diego State 31