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San Diego State vs. Nevada: What are the Aztecs keys to beating the Wolf Pack

San Diego State hosts Nevada in the final game of the football regular season. The Wolfpack has their work cut out for them taking on the West-division winning Aztecs, who is currently undefeated in conference play.

Donnel Pumphrey running behind blocker Dakota Gordon against UNLV.
Donnel Pumphrey running behind blocker Dakota Gordon against UNLV.
Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

WEEK 12: Nevada Wolf Pack (6-5, 4-3 MW) vs San Diego State Aztecs (8-3, 7-0 MW)

WHEN: Saturday, November 28, 7:45 PM PST

WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA


COACHES: Brian Polian, Rocky Long

SERIES RECORD: 4-2 San Diego State, 7th meeting all-time

The 2015 regular season comes to an end at San Diego. The Aztecs are still undefeated in conference play and face a tough Nevada team looking to ensure another football game past Saturday. San Diego State will honor their fifteen seniors on Saturday night in which will likely be the final home game for the Aztecs. The Wolf Pack knows they have their work cut out for them as the Aztecs have made it look easy through conference play, continually dominating on both sides of the football.

Keys to Victory

Create Turnovers First

This San Diego State defense has been unstoppable through conference play and hasn’t faced an offense that they couldn’t stop. Though Nevada will be no exception to that rule, their defense has been -11 in turnovers this season compared to San Diego State's -17 in turnovers. Damontae Kazee has a good size of those turnovers himself holding six interceptions and forcing two fumbles. On the Nevada defense Dameon Baber also has claimed six interceptions and Ian Seau has forced 4 fumbles. San Diego State is number 1 in the nation in turnover ratio, so it continues to be important that San Diego State create turnovers on defense and protect the ball on offense.

Shut Down the Run

Nevada has a decent one-two running back combination in James Butler and Don Jackson, but San Diego State hasn’t given up a single 100+ yard rusher in conference play. Neither aren’t as talented as San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin and San Diego State is just too dominant on the line and at the linebacker level. They've shut down a lot of runners sine finding a groove in conference play and linebacker Calvin Munson and DL Alex Barrett are a big part in the front seven.

Don’t Slow Down Now

The Aztecs have locked in their spot in the Mountain West Championship Game, likely to be held at Colorado Springs, CO, so this has the markings of a trap game for San Diego State. However, they look like the dominant team everyone had them pegged for in August. The running game continues to be dominant with Donnel Pumphrey closing in on school records and Maxwell Smith doing his best to manage the offense through conference play. The Aztecs must stay hungry through the rest of the season and bowl season to continue their winning streak.


The Wolf Pack might find a way to match the Aztecs’ intensity and they’re going to do their best to exploit a solid defense. But San Diego State has won five straight games by at least 23 points, so it's a matter of when their offense runs out of gas trying to keep up with Pumphrey or Munson, Kazee, and Barrett on the defensive side of the ball. San Diego State is too dominant for the Wolf Pack to handle on Senior Night. Maxwell Smith throws for two touchdowns, Pumphrey goes over 120 yards with a touchdown, and Kazee earns another pick.

Nevada 17, San Diego State 37