Mountain West Conference: Week 10
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 10:30 am CT
Army West Point Black Knights at Air Force Falcons
Army West Point Black Knights
ARMY VS. AIR FORCE
Week 10 finds the Army Black Knights squaring off in their first Commander-In-Chief series game of 2021 against the Air Force Falcons. Set as the Inaugural Lockheed Martin Commanders’ Classic, presented by USAA, it will also mark as the first time since 1965 for the Black Knights and Falcons to meet at a neutral site. The 56th meeting in the history between the two teams, dating back to 1959, will be played in the newly opened Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. With Army at the top of the nation for an opponent’s total time of possession, the rushing game will be in the spotlight with Air Force and the Black Knights, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, in total earned yardage per game. Rich Waltz and Aaron Taylor are set to make the call on CBS, with Rich DeMarco and Dean Darling set on the national radio call for Army Sports Network and the Varsity Network App. Kickoff at Globe Life Field is slated for 11:30 a.m. ET.
THE KNIGHT SHIFT
After seven games of action in 2021, the Army Black Knights are No. 2 in the NCAA for most rushing first downs.
In the 52-21 win against UConn in Week 3, RB Tyrell Robinson and RB Brandon Walters became the first duo to record a 50 yard-plus rush in the same game since 2016. The last Black Knight duo to hit the mark was QB Ahmad Bradshaw (65 yards) and RB Tyler Campbell (70 yards) at North Texas in 2016.
THE RUSHING RANK
Despite having less games played into Week 10, the Black Knights still remain in the Top 3 for most rushing yards (2,186). Army also ranks No. 2 in average rushing yards per game (312.3). Army has also retained a Top 5 ranking for total rushing touchdowns (26).
With the Black Knights recording 12.0 total sacks on the opponent through the first five games played of 2021, it marks as the most recorded in the first third of a season in Academy history since 2000. Since 2000, OLB Andre Carter’s 8.5 total sacks through seven games accounts for the third-most in Academy history for total sacks at midway point of a single season.
NO FLY ZONE
Since 2000, S Marquel Broughton’s two interceptions matches as the most for a Black Knight to snare in the first three weeks of action over the past seven seasons (B.Jackson, 2015). Only DB Donovan Travis snared more over the same time span (3, 2009).
THE SHORT GAME
In the opening week of 2021, the Army Black Knights halted Georgia State to only 22 total yards of offense in the first quarter. It sits as the fewest yards allowed in the opening quarter of a single game over the past six seasons. The 2020 top-ranked defensive unit held offenses to under 50 total yards in the first quarter three times last season.
Army has created takeaways on three opponent opening drives in 2021, marking as the second consecutive season to reach the feat. The Black Knights have also snared the ball on the opponent’s opening drive in back-to-back games to open the 2021 season, marking as the second time-to do so since 2000. The last time occurred in 015. Army has created takeaways on the opponent’s opening drive in 3 games in 2021. Since 2015, the Black Knights have killed 15% of all opponent opening drives by creating a takeaway (13) – the most in all of college football. The rest of the NCAA has only averaged nearly 5% over the same time frame (4).
ON OUR TIME
Midway through the 2021 season, the Army Black Knights defensive unit still remain ranked at top of the NCAA in time of possession on both sides of the ball.
In the first two weeks of action, the Black Knights held their opponents to only 17:53 and 20:22 in the first two weeks of 2021, which fell under the 2020 season average where the Black Knights were ranked the nation’s top defense.
After six weeks of action and ranked No. 1 in the NCAA for three consecutive weeks on the opponent’s total time of possession (146:42), the Black Knights sit at the top of the nation for fewest total defensive snaps played (5,512) through the 95 games played since Head Coach Jeff Monken joined in 2014
Air Force Falcons
• Air Force and Army are meeting for the 56th time overall and fourth time at a neutral site. Air Force leads the series, 37-17-1. The Falcons are 22-4 at home, 14-12 at Army and 1-1-1 in neutral site games.
• The 2021 season marks 50th year of Commander-in-Chief’s trophy competition. The Falcons have a series-best 63-36 overall record and 20 titles. There have been four ties in the series, the last coming in 1993. Air Force could secure a record 21st title and its first since 2016, with a win this week. Army would secure no-worse than a tie with a win this week.
• Air Force and Army are the top two rushing teams in the NCAA. The Falcons lead the nation with a 318.4 average while Army is second at 312.3.
LOCKHEED MARTIN COMMANDERS’ CLASSIC VS. ARMY
The Lockheed Martin Commanders’ Classic between Air Force and Army is the first college football game at Globe Life Field. The two-year agreement begins this week
with Air Force as the home team. Army will be the home squad for the return meeting on November 5, 2022. The Texas Rangers will host and operate the games with marketing assistance from Dallas-based LST Marketing. Globe Life Field is the home of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers, which played 30 games in the park without fans in the abbreviated 2020 season. The facility then hosted 16 MLB neutral site postseason games in the National League Division (3) and Championship (7) Series and the World Series (6). Games in the final two playoff rounds were played in front of approximately 11,500 fans per game, the maximum capacity allowed by MLB. Designed with a retractable roof to be a premier multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue, Globe Life Field was the home of more than 60 high school graduations in May and June and most recently hosted the 10-night Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from December 3-12 with sellout crowds of 14,500 per performance.
The Globe Life Field seating capacity for the Lockheed Martin Commanders’ Classic is expected to approximate the 40,518 figure for baseball. The 1.8 million square foot facility includes sports lighting as well as broadcast locations that are specific to football.
Playing in Texas
• Air Force will be playing in Texas for the first time since playing New Mexico (L 45-40) in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. Air Force has played in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, four times, most recently in 2015 vs. California (L 55-36). The Falcons also played in the Armed Forces Bowl in 2012, 2008 and 2007.
• Air Force set a bowl ticket sales record in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl, selling over 12,000 tickets.
• The attendance in all four Armed Forces Bowls was 38K-plus.
Globe Life Field Facts
• Globe Life Field is a baseball park in Arlington, Texas. Since 2020, it is the home ballpark of the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball (MLB).
• Globe Life Field was originally scheduled to open on March 23, 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season was delayed for several months. Globe Life Field opened for a high-school graduation on May 29, 2020.
• On July 24, 2020, the Rangers hosted their first regular-season game against the Colorado Rockies. The Rangers played two exhibition games against the Rockies on July 21 and 22 at Globe Life Field.
• Air Force and Army are meeting for the 56th time overall and fourth time at a neutral site
• Air Force leads the series, 37-17-1
• The Falcons are 22-4 at home, 14-12 at Army and 1-1-1 in neutral site games
• Air Force won the last neutral site meeting, a 14-3 win in 1965 in Chicago, IL
• Air Force is 34-15 in Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy games vs. Army dating back to 1972
• The Falcons are 21-3 at home and 13-12 at Army in CIC games
• Army defeated Air Force, 10-7, last season in Michie Stadium
• The teams first played to a 13-13 tie in Yankee Stadium in New York in 1959
(Dec. 19, 2020) Army defeated Air Force, 10-7, Dec. 19 in West Point to close the regular season for both teams. The Black Knights opened the scoring with a field goal from Quinn Maretzki to take a 3-0 lead, which stood up until halftime, as the Falcons missed a pair of short field goal attempts. The Falcons took the lead late in the third quarter when Haaziq Daniels hit Kyle Patterson with a 10-yard touchdown pass to give Air Force a 7-3 lead. Army scored on a Jakobi Buchanan one-yard run with 1:13 left in the game to take a 10-7 lead. The Black Knights secured the win with an interception on Air Force’s next drive on a tipped pass. Army finished with 290 total yards and had an advantage in plays, 73-40, and time of possession, 37:26 to 22:34. Air Force finished with 261 total yards. Brad Roberts rushed for 83 yards to lead the team. Daniels added 61 yards. Will Trawick led the defense with a career-high 14 tackles to lead six Falcons in double figures in tackles.
LOOKING AT ARMY
Army is 4-3 overall … The Black Knights have lost three straight aŌ er opening the season with four consecuƟ ve wins … Army was idle last week coming off a 70-56 loss at home to naƟ onally-ranked Wake Forest … Army is second in the naƟ on in rushing with a 312.3 per-game average … Army leads the naƟ on in Ɵ me of possession with a 38:39 average … ChrisƟ an Anderson leads the team in rushing with 427 yards and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry and 85.4 yards per game … the Black Knights have played fi ve quarterbacks and they have combined to hit 31-52 passes for 614 yards with seven touchdowns and three intercepƟ ons … Isaiah Alston leads the team in receiving with 10 catches for 216 yards and three touchdowns … Marquel Broughton and Arik Smith lead the team in tackles with 39 each … Andre Carter II leads the team with 9.0 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks for 44 yards … Army is coached by Jeff Monken, who is in his eighth season.
NCAA’S TOP TWO RUSHING ATTACKS FACE OFF
Air Force and Army are the top two rushing teams in the NCAA. The Falcons lead the nation with a 318.4 average while Army is second at 312.3. They are the only teams nationally averaging over 300 yards per game.
The 2021 season marks 50th year of Commander-in-Chief’s trophy competition. The trophy goes annually to the winning academy with the best record in the round-robin competition. The winning team goes to the White House to receive the trophy from the President of the United States. The Falcons have a series-best 63-36 overall record and 20 titles. There have been four ties in the series, the last coming in 1993. The Falcons opened the season series with a 23-3 win at Navy Sept. 11. The Falcons can win a record 21st trophy title, the their first since 2016, with a win over Army this week. If the Falcons win it, each Academy would have a title in the last three years. An Army win this week would put the Black Knights in the driver’s seat to win its second straight and fourth in the last five years.
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 1:30 pm MT
Colorado State Rams at Wyoming Cowboys
Colorado State Rams
NOTING THE RAMS
• Colorado State enters year two – and the first true full season – under head coach Steve Addazio who was named the program’s 23rd head coach on Dec. 12, 2019. Addazio is in his 11th year as an FBS head coach in 2021 with the Rams after seven seasons at Boston College (2013-19) and two seasons at Temple (2011-12). He is only the second Colorado State head coach (Earle Bruce) to have won a bowl game as a head coach with another school.
• Addazio has been a head coach in five bowl games and led his teams to six bowl games. He has coached in more bowl games as a head coach than all other CSU head coaches except Earle Bruce (10 prior to CSU).
• Colorado State returned all but one starter from the 2020 squad and has a roster which includes 33 senior, fifth-year or beyond players.
• Tight end Trey McBride, fresh off a 2020 All-American season, elected to return to Colorado State in 2021 and is bringing NFL scouts to campus on a weekly basis. McBride appeared on Todd McShay’s Big Board as the top tight end and No. 27 overall prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.
• Senior Ryan Stonehouse, a two-time All-American (2018, 2020), is currently the NCAA’s all-time career leader in punt average with a 47.6 mark. The three-time All-Mountain West performer is aiming to finish his career above 46.31.
• SACK MASTERS: Colorado State enjoyed an offseason of highlights at the professional level as former Ram Shaq Barrett – the NFL’s leading sacker in 2019 – won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, and Al Baker (1974-77) was unofficially named the NFL’s single-season sack record holder based on a review of film by Pro Football Reference for his 23 sacks in his rookie season.
• Speaking of sacks, Colorado State returns every contributor from a defensive front that led the nation in tackles for loss per game last season, including All-Mountain West First Team performer Scott Patchan who ranked No. 6 nationally in the category a season ago. The Rams were the most improved defensive line in the nation in 2020.
NOTING THE GAME
• Saturday’s game marks the 113th playing of the Border War between Colorado State and Wyoming where the teams battle annually for the Bronze Boot, held by Colorado State prior to the game for the first time since 2016.
• There is a one-win discrepancy in the series. Colorado State does not count the first meeting in 1899, a 12-0 victory for Colorado Agricultural College, due to the game’s eventual forfeit.
• Every year since 1968, the victor of the Border War has taken home the Bronze Boot, a boot worn in the Vietnam War by Captain Dan J. Romero who was part of the Colorado State ROTC from 1967-1969. The Boot was restored for the first time in its history prior to the 2021 season.
• The Border War is the longest continuous rivalry west of the Mississippi River. Since the induction of the Bronze Boot into the rivalry game, the Cowboys own a 28-25 advantage in the series. However, the Rams are 16-12 since the start of the Sonny Lubick era in 1993.
Wyoming vs. Colorado State Preview
• This Saturday’s meeting between Wyoming and Colorado State will be the 113th in the series that dates back to 1899 — three centuries of Border War games.
• Since 1968, the two teams have battled for the “Bronze Boot” traveling trophy. This year marks the 54th game in that portion of the series. Wyoming leads 28-25 in the Battle for the Bronze Boot. •The two teams will be meeting for the 76th consecutive season since the end of World War II. Since 1946, Wyoming leads 43-32-0. The overall series is led by Colorado State 59-48-5.
• The annual running of the game ball between the two campuses will take place Friday, Nov. 5 with the Colorado State ROTC detachment running the game ball from Fort Collins to the state line on US Highway 287. A brief ceremony will be held at Noon at the Wyoming-Colorado border on 287 and then the Wyoming ROTC detachment will run the game ball into Laramie
2021 Wyoming Offensive Balance — 50 Percent Rushing and 49 Percent
Passing: Through the first eight games of this season, Wyoming’s offense has begun to develop the balance it has been striving for in terms of rushing yards and passing yards. Here are some comparisons on how the Cowboys have generated offense this season.
• Wyoming has generated 1,343 rushing yards and 1,312 passing yards in 2021.
• That equates to 50.6 percent of total yards are rushing yards and 49.4 percent passing yards.
• The Cowboys have only 31 yards more in rushing yards than in passing yards this season.
• Wyoming has had more passing yards than rushing yards in six games and has a 3-3 record in those games.
• UW has had more rushing yards than passing yards in two games and has a 1-1 record in those games.
• The Pokes have gained over 340 yards in five games this season and have a 4-1 record in those games. The only one of those games they lost was when they accounted for a season high 400 yards at San Jose State.
Cowboy Defense Scoring Points of Their Own, Tied for Sixth in the Nation for Most Defensive TDs Scored in 2021: Wyoming’s defense has not only been effective in stopping opponent offenses this season, but the Cowboy defense has generated points of its own this season. Wyoming has scored three defensive touchdowns this year — one at Northern Illinois and two against Ball State. The Pokes are tied for No. 6 in the nation in defensive touchdowns scored with three TDs — tied with Auburn, Georgia, Iowa, Pittsburgh and South Carolina. Only Ohio State (6), UTSA (5), Hawai’i (4), Nevada (4) and Middle Tennessee (4) have more. Chad Muma intercepted a pass against Northern Illinois and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown for Wyoming’s first defensive TD of the season. In Wyoming’s win vs. Ball State, nickel back Keyon Blankenbaker intercepted a pass in the first quarter and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, linebacker Muma recorded his second “Pick Six” of the season on a 45-yard interception return for a TD. The two “Pick Sixes” in one game was the first time Wyoming had done that since 2016 against Eastern Michigan (Marcus Epps and Logan Wilson)
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 2:00 pm MT
Utah State Aggies at New Mexico State Aggies
Utah State Aggies
/// KICKOFF COVERAGE ///
• Utah State’s 6-2 start this year is its third-best over the last 43 years dating back to 1979, trailing only the 2012 and 2018 teams that both went 11-2 and finished the season nationally ranked. • Utah State is bowl eligible for the ninth time in the last 11 years after playing in just six bowl games in its first 119 years. USU played in five-straight bowl games from 2011-15 and won three-straight from 2012-14, both of which are school records. All-time, USU has played in 14 bowl games.
• Utah State’s improvement from last year to this year is one of the best in the nation as the Aggies were 1-5 last season and are currently 6-2 this year. Only Michigan State (2-5 in ‘20 to 8-0 in ‘21), Northern Illinois (0-6 in ‘20 to 6-2 in ‘21), Baylor (2-7 in ‘20 to 7-1 in ‘21) and Michigan (2-4 in ‘20 to 7-1 in ‘21) have had better turnarounds this year than Utah State.
• Utah State has now won at least six games for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons after winning six or more games just three times in its previous 30 seasons. Overall, it is the 38th time in school history that USU has won at least six games. Furthermore, it is the 40th time that USU has won at least four conference games, including its sixth time in its nine years in the Mountain West. There have only been 25 Aggie teams that have won seven or more games in a single season.
• Senior WR Deven Thompkins ranks first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in receiving (137.4 ypg), first in the MW and second in the nation in all-purpose yards (164.5 ypg), second in the MW and sixth in the nation in receptions (7.9 pg), and third in the MW and 25th in the nation in receiving touchdowns with six (0.75 pg).
• Utah State ranks among the top 50 teams in the nation in 21 statistical categories, including ranking second in the Mountain West and 15th in the nation in total offense at 475.4 yards per game. USU also ranks 11th in the nation in tackles for loss (6.9 pg), 12th in the nation in passing offense (316.2 ypg), 19th in the nation in kickoff returns (26.5 ypr), 21st in the nation with nine passes intercepted (1.0 pg), and 31st in the nation in third downs converted at 45.4 percent (64-of-141).
UTAH STATE PLAYS AT NEW MEXICO STATE IN SATURDAY AFTERNOON GAME
• Utah State (6-2, 4-1 MW) plays its final non-conference game of the season at New Mexico State (1-7) on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FloSports with Adam Young (play-by-play), Danny Knee (analyst) and Megan McCormich (reporter) on the call.
• FloSports is an over-the-top subscription sports broadcaster and streaming service that is available on Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV. The FloSports apps are free to download and include both free and premium (FloFilms and most live events) content.
SCOUTING UTAH STATE
• Utah State is 6-2 on the season and 4-1 in Mountain West play following its 51-31 home win against Hawai’i last weekend. USU is led by graduate junior QB Logan Bonner, who is 150- of-249 (.602) passing for 2,127 yards (265.9 ypg) with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Graduate junior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. has rushed for 477 yards on 96 carries (5.0 ypc/79.5 ypg) with four touchdowns. And, senior WR Deven Thompkins has caught 63 passes for 1,099 yards (17.4 ypr/137.4 ypg) and six touchdowns. Defensively, graduate senior ILB Justin Rice has 70 tackles, which includes 9.5 tackles for loss, to go along with three interceptions and one forced fumble. USU is averaging 31.4 points and 477.1 yards of total offense (160.9 rushing, 316.3 passing), and allowing 29.0 points and 435.1 yards of total offense (180.1 rushing, 255.0 passing).
UTAH STATE NATIONAL TRENDS
• Utah State is one of 36 teams in the nation that has won at least six games this season, including one of five Mountain West teams. USU is also one of just 21 teams in the nation riding at least a three-game winning streak, which is tied for the 13th-longest in the nation.
UTAH STATE IS 3-0 ON THE ROAD THIS SEASON
• Utah State has won each of its first three road games for the first time since the 1978 team also won its first three road games, while its three-game road winning streak is its longest since the 2018 team won four-straight road games. In its three road games this year, Utah State is averaging 34.3 points and 503.0 yards of total offense (181.3 rushing, 321.7 passing), and is 27-of-51 (.529) on third down conversions and 6-of-9 (.667) on fourth down. Furthermore, Utah State is plus one in the turnover battle in road games this year with five takeaways and four turnovers, and has a 37-10 scoring advantage in the final 15 minutes of those three road games.
UTAH STATE HAVING SUCCESS ON FOURTH DOWN
• Utah State has converted 13-of-22 (.591) fourth downs and has scored points on each of those 13 drives with 10 touchdowns and three field goals. Overall, USU is seventh in the nation in fourth-down attempts and tied for eighth nationally in fourth-down conversions.
UTAH STATE WINNING THE CLOSE GAMES
• Utah State is 4-0 on the season in one-score games and has won those four contests by a total of 13 points. The school record for one-score wins in a season is five set in 2011, as that team posted a 5-5 record in one-score games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF UTAH STATE’S SCORING DRIVES
• Utah State has 18 scoring drives of at least 10 plays, including a season-long 18-play drive against BYU. By comparison, USU had a total of 13 drives of 10-plus plays in 2019.
• Utah State has 21 scoring drives of at least 70 yards, including a season-long 92-yard drive at Air Force. By comparison, USU had 32 drives of 70-plus yards in 2019.
• Utah State’s Blake Anderson is one of 19 first-year head coaches at the FBS level in 2021. Anderson and Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin are the only first-year head coaches to have at least six wins this year as both are currently 6-2 at their respective schools. Furthermore, Anderson was one of only two first-year head coaches, along with South Alabama’s Kane Wommack, to start the season 3-0.
• Anderson’s start to the 2021 season marks just the fourth time in school history that a firstyear head coach has led the Aggies to a 6-2 record or better. In Phil
Krueger’s first year in 1973, USU began the year with a 7-2 record. In Tony Knap’s first year in 1963, USU began the year with an 8-1 record. And, in Fred Walker’s first year in 1907, USU went 7-0 on the season.
• Anderson was just the third coach in school history, and first since E. Lowell Romney in 1919, to win his first three games at USU. The only other head coach to accomplish this feat was Fred M. Walker, who led USU to a 7-0 record in 1907.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The last time Utah State played at New Mexico State in 2011, USU was riding a four-game winning streak after starting the season with a 2-5 record. Following its win at NMSU, USU secured its first winning season since 1996 as it played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and ended the year with a 7-6 record. It was USU’s first bowl game since 1997. Since that 2011 season, USU has played in eight bowl games with three 10-win seasons.
• Utah State has four players from the 2011 team that are members of the current coaching staff in Chuckie Keeton (running backs coach), Al Lapuaho (defensive ends coach), DJ Tialavea (tight ends coach) and Jumanne Robertson (analyst)
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO STATE
• New Mexico State is 1-7 on the season following its 48-34 loss at Hawai’i two weekends ago. The Aggies are led by junior QB Jonah Johnson, who is 166-of-297 (.559) passing for 1,677 yards (239.6 ypg) with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Redshirt freshman RB Juwaun Price leads the team in rushing with 451 yards on 83 carries (5.4 ypc/56.4 ypg). And, senior WR Jared Wyatt leads the team with 37 receptions for 421 yards (11.4 ypr/52.6 ypg). Defensively, junior LB Chris Ojoh has a team-best 45 tackles, which includes 5.0 sacks and 9.0 tackles for loss. As a team, New Mexico State is averaging 24.4 points and 381.6 yards of total offense per game (276.0 passing, 105.6 rushing), and allowing 38.5 points and 462.0 yards of total offense (276.3 passing, 185.8 rushing). New Mexico State returns five starters (O-4, D-1) and 44 lettermen from the 2019 and 2020 teams. NMSU went 2-10 in 2019 and 1-1 in a shortened 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Doug Martin is 53-124 in his 16th season as a collegiate head coach and is 24-71 in nine years as the head coach at New Mexico State.
UTAH STATE AND NEW MEXICO STATE SERIES HISTORY
• Utah State leads the all-time series against New Mexico State 31-8, which includes a 16-3 road record. USU has won eight of the last 11 games played in the series, including three of the last four on the road. USU won the last meeting between the two teams with a 60-13 home win in 2018. USU also won the last meeting between the two teams in Las Cruces with a 24-21 win in 2011. The last time NMSU defeated USU was in the 2017 Arizona Bowl, 26-20, in overtime. NMSU’s last home win against USU was when it posted a 20-17 victory in 2009.
UTAH STATE vs. NEW MEXICO STATE SERIES SIXTH-LONGEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY
• Utah State and New Mexico State will be meeting for the 40th time this weekend in what is currently tied for the sixth-most played series in school history, trailing Utah (112), BYU (90), Colorado State (77) and Wyoming (70), and tied with Idaho (39) and San José State (39).
• Utah State’s 31 victories against New Mexico State are the fourth-most against any opponent in school history, trailing the 40 wins versus Wyoming, the 37 victories against BYU and the 36 wins against Colorado State.
UTAH STATE AND NEW MEXICO STATE AS CONFERENCE FOES
• Utah State and New Mexico State spent 26 years as league foes as both were members of the Big West Conference from 1985-2000, members of the Sun Belt Conference from 2002- 03, and members of the Western Athletic Conference from 2005-12. In the Big West, USU held a 15-1 series advantage against NMSU, while the two teams split its two games as members of the Sun Belt. As members of the WAC, USU had a 6-2 series advantage. Utah State is also 9-2 all-time against New Mexico State in non-conference games, which includes an 0-2 record in bowl games.
UTAH STATE VERSUS THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
• Utah State is 45-21 (.682) all-time against Division I teams from the state of New Mexico with a 31-8 record against New Mexico State and a 14-13 record versus New Mexico.
New Mexico State Aggies
RESTED AND READY TO GO The open week came at the perfect time for the Aggies, as multiple players were nursing nagging injuries. Both safety Dalton Bowels (upper body) and Trevor Brohard (knee) missed the game against Hawai’i with minor injuries. Both Brohard and Bowels are questionable for the Aggies contest aginast Utah State this week. After recording his first career touchdown against Nevada, WR PJ Johnson III also missed the Aggies contest at Hawai’i due to injury.
DIXIE LAND DELIGHT ESPN and the SEC have designated next Saturday’s (Nov. 13) matchup at No. 3 Alabama as an 11 a.m. kickoff on SEC Network. The Aggies and Crimson Tide are meeting for the second time in three years.
AFTERNOON DELIGHT The Aggies will finally play a contest before 5 p.m. in the afternoon. Seven of the Aggies first eight contests have kicked off at 6 p.m. or later, including two primetime 7:30 p.m. kickoffs. The Aggies could potentially play all afternoon games for the remainder of the season, as next Saturday’s contest has been selected for an 11 a.m. (CT)/10 a.m. (MT) kick. The Aggies season finale against UMass will kick off at 1 p.m. The lone contest without a start time is the Aggies’ Nov. 13 match up at Kentucky.
NM State senior WR Jared Wyatt and sophomore Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda continue to form a formidable one-two punch for the Aggies. The Aggies top-two receivers thus far the duo have combined for 67 receptions, 894 yards and six touchdowns. Since returning from COVID protocols Garcia-Castaneda has recorded 458 total yards (6 games), and has five touchdowns (4 receiving, 1 passing). Garcia Castaneda caught a career-best seven passes for 106 yards and two scores against SJSU. He became the first wide out since Izaiah Lottie to catch a pair of touchdowns in a game. Lottie achieved that feat back on Sept. 16, 2017 against Troy. Wyatt has also had a strong last five games. After recording a career-best nine receptions for 114 yards and a score against Hawai’i in the matchup in LC, Wyatt hauled in six passes for 52 yards against SJSU and had six catches for 64 yards and a score at Nevada . He and Garcia-Castaneda are the first set of teammates since Nov. 2017 to record back-to-back 100 yard games. Wyatt and Garcia-Castaneda are on pace to both eclipse 500 yards receiving this season. They would become WR duo to have 500+ yards receiving since Jonathan Boone and OJ Clark had 715 yards and 512 yards respectively in 2018.
BROHARD OR GO HOME
Junior captain Trevor Brohard has taken his game to the next level this season. The Los Lunas native has recorded at least eight tackles in three of the four games he has played in this season. Since returning from COVID protocols (four games), Brohard has recorded 29 tackles (7.3/game) and 2.5 tackles for loss. Despite missing the two games, Brohard has recorded 40 tackles in his five games played, and the LB has at least eight tackles in four of those five games. Brohard missed the Aggies last contest against Hawai’i due to a knee injury.
OJOH FINDS HIS MOJOH AGAINST MW
Eastern Washington transfer Chris Ojoh has played his best football this season against the Mountain West. The LB has recorded 8.5 tackles for loss in six games against the MW and all five of his sacks. Ojoh recorded his first-career multiple-sack game against Hawai’i on sept. 25 and can become the first Aggie since Rashie Hodge Jr. (2019) to record 10 TFLs. Ojoh’s next TFL will be his 10th.
STRIKING A WAVE Sept. 25 was a very special night, as during the second quarter, the Aggies passed the ceremonial tee from Striking the Wonder Dog to his “brother” Wave. Striking served as the Aggies official tee retriever for nine seasons after the retirement of Smokey the Wonder Dog in 2012. Saturday’s contest against Utah State will be Wave’s first official game as the Raising Canes tee retrieval dog.
COMING UP THE MOUNTAIN Saturday’s contest against Utah State marks the seventh and final contest against the Mountain West Conference. The Aggies have already faced San Diego State (Sept. 4), New Mexico (Sept. 11), Hawai’i (Sept. 25, San Jose State (Oct. 3) and Nevada (Oct. 10). Saturday’s contest is the fifth and final game
in a stretch of five straight games versus the Mountain West.
WELCOME BACK After playing four of the first five in the State of New Mexico, the Aggies have not played a game in NM since Sept. 25. All three of the Aggies road contests in October were on
SEE YOU SOON The Aggies and Rainbow Warriors played a home-and-home this season. After hosting Hawaii on Sept. 25, the Aggies made the return trip to Honolulu on Oct. 23. After not meeting for nearly a decade, the Rainbow Warriors and Aggies are scheduled to clash four more times over the next five seasons, and five times between now and 2028. The Aggies will host Hawaii next season (2022) and in 2024, and will travel to the islands during the 2023 and 2025 seasons. The Aggies 2020 match up at Hawaii has been rescheduled to the 2028 season (Sept. 30, Week 5).
OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN(S) The 2021 NM State football team has selected Trevor Brohard, Sage Doxtater, Alex Escobar and Donavan King as 2021 captains. Escobar was also put on full scholarship prior to the Aggies opener against UTEP. STEELE LIKES THE AGGIES Led by redshirt senior Sage Doxtater, the Aggies placed five members of the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent team. Doxtater was joined on the first team by running back/return man Juwaun Price, while Eli Johnson, O’Maury Samuels and Trevor Brohard round out the Aggies five selections.
SAGE ADVICE Redshirt senior Sage Doxtater declined an opportunity to return to his native Canada and play for the Canadian Football League, and will instead return for his fifth season in Las Cruces. A projected Day Three selection in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft, Doxtater was selected by the Toronto Argonauts in the second round of this years CFL Draft. The Ontario native rounded out his busy offseason by getting
married back in June.
BACK TO NORMAL? After seeing its entire 2020 slate canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Aggies played just two spring games against Tarleton and Dixie State at the Sun Bowl in El Paso. The Aggies 12 game 2021 schedule includes seven road games (San Diego State, UNM, San Jose State, Nevada, Hawai’i, Alabama and Kentucky). Starting with Saturday’s Battle of I-10, the Aggies will welcome South Carolina State, Hawai’i, Utah State and UMass to Las Cruces this fall.
NOTABLES: LAST GAME (HAWAI’I)
• Running back Juwaun Price became the first Aggie RB since Jason Huntley (UTEP, 2019) to record multiple rushing touchdowns. In that contest (Nov. 23), Huntley ran for 191 yards and three scores. Price averaged 9.4 YPC vs UH.
• WR Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda recorded his third consecutive contest with at least 75 yards receiving at Hawai’i. After being limited to just 18 yards in the first match up, Garcia-Castaneda caught six balls for 82 yards. The Californian now has five games with at least 75 yards, the most since OJ Clark in 2019. If Garcia-Castaneda eclipses 75 yards Saturday he would become the first Aggie since Jaleel Scott in 2017 to have six games with at least 75 yards.
• Kicker Ethan Albertson kicked a career- best 44 yard field goal two weeks ago at Hawai’i. With his two makes, Albertson is now 10-of-14 on field goal attempts this season. With another made field goal, Albertson would be the first kicker since Dylan Brown in 2017 to make more than 10 field goals. Brown made 13 that season.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES (Utah State):
• Following his former HC at Arkansas State, QB Logan Bonner has handled the lions share of the QB duties. Bonner has completed 150-of-249 passes (60.2%) for 2,217 yards and 17 touchdown passes.
• Florida native Deven Thompkins is a major weapon for Blake Anderson and the Utah State Aggies. Thompkins has at least 60 yards receiving in each game this season, and has six total 100 yard receiving games. Thompkins has recorded at least 100 yards receiving in four consecutive games and has six TDs.
• Not to be out done are Derek Wright and Brandon Bowling. The duo have combined for 449 and 420 yards respectively and nine touchdowns.
• On the ground, the Aggies have turned to the two-headed monster of Calvin Tyler Jr and Eleyon Noa. Tyler Jr is Utah State’s leading rusher (477 yards) this season, but has not played in the last two contests. In his place, Noa has taken off, rushing for 97 yards on 26 carries two weeks ago at Colorado State and for 111 yards and a touchdown last week against Hawai’i.
• Defensively, Utah State is led by linebacker Justin Rice. On the year, Rice has a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and 70 tackles.
AGGIE ADDITIONS HC Doug Martin made four staff additions in the offseason. Kevin Maurice joined the Aggies staff back in April and oversees the inside wide receivers/tight ends. Maurice spent the last three seasons at Eastern Washington where he served as the Eagles running back coach. In addition to Maurice, the Aggies and Martin added three new graduate assistants for the 2021 season: Torrey Gill, Eric Osborne and Quinn Thomas.
Gill will work with the NM State offense working primarily with the Aggies wide outs and joined the Aggies after a successful two-year stint at Tabor College. Gill played at Tabor College, where he was a two-time all-conference selection and served as a grad assistant at Tabor. The third Aggie addition, Osborne, joined the Aggies after spending the last two seasons working at Eastern New Mexico University where he worked with both the defensive line and linebacker. At NM State, Osborne will serve one of two Aggies defensive graduate assistants, and will work primarily with the Aggies linebacker unit. NM State’s fourth and final addition is former Walsh College wide receiver Quinn Thomas. Thomas also served as an offensive graduate assistant for the Cavaliers. At NM State, Thomas will serve as the Aggies second defensive GA, and will work with the defensive backs.
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 4:00 pm PT
Boise State Broncos at Fresno State Bulldogs
Boise State Broncos
The Boise State football team will travel to square off against Fresno State, ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press Poll this week, the first time this season the Broncos will play back-to-back games on the road. The Broncos and Bulldogs are slated to kick at 5 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium, Saturday (Nov. 6), and the game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports Network.
BACK-TO-BACK ROAD GAMES For just the fourth time since joining the Mountain West in 2011, and for the first time since 2019, the Broncos will play back-to-back conference games on the road in consecutive weeks. The Broncos also did it in 2011, 2014 and 2015. The Broncos won both games in both 2011 and 2019, and went 1-1 in 2014 and 2015, dropping the first game in 2014 and the second game in 2015.
The Broncos lead the all-time series, 15-7, and are 5-5 at Bulldog Stadium. Since joining the Bulldogs in the Western Athletic Conference for the 2001 season, Boise State is 15-4 against Fresno State, including a mark of 5-3 in Fresno. In Mountain West games, the Broncos are 5-3 against the Bulldogs, and have met three times in the MW Championship Game (2014, 2017 and 2018). This week’s match-up is the first between the Broncos and Bulldogs since the 2018 Mountain West Championship Game, which Fresno State captured, 19-16, in overtime (Dec. 1, 2018). It will also be the Broncos’ first visit to Bulldog Stadium since Nov. 25, 2017, when Fresno State defeated Boise State (28-17) in the regular-season finale. The Broncos defeated the Bulldogs a week later in the 2017 MW Championship Game (Dec. 2).
GAMES AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Boise State is 16-21 all-time against ranked opponents, including a road victory earlier this season over 10th-ranked BYU (27-17; Oct. 9). This will be the third game the Broncos have played against a ranked opponent this season, and the seventh time that Boise State has faced a ranked Bulldog squad. The Broncos are 3-3 in such games against the Bulldogs, and 1-1 this season against ranked opponents.
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD
Boise State has won 13-consecutive conference road games, dating back to a Nov. 25, 2017 loss to Fresno State (28-17).
THE MIDDLE EIGHT
When Boise State wins the middle eight, it wins the game. In the Broncos’ four wins, during the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half, the team has outscored its opponents, 34-3. In the team’s four losses, the Broncos have been outscored 39-7 in the middle eight.
Boise State always plays for its city, but following a tragic shooting at a Boise mall on Oct. 25, it means more. Starting with last week’s game against Colorado State and continuing through the remainder of the season, the Broncos will honor their community and those affected with a City of Boise helmet sticker.
Three of the Broncos’ four wins in 2021 have come against teams that are already bowl eligible, tied with Miami and Mississippi State for the most such wins nationally. Boise State has wins against UTEP, Utah State and BYU. Three of the Broncos’ losses have also come at the hands of teams that have already reached bowl eligibility – Oklahoma State, Nevada and Air Force.
Fresno State Bulldogs
• Fresno State and Boise State are set to play for the Milk Can Trophy on Saturday.
• The teams will play for the 23rd time on Saturday.
• Boise State leads the all-time series, 15-7.
• Fresno State Athletics is celebrating its centennial year and the 2021 football season is the 100th season of competition in program history.
• Fresno State and Boise State will meet for the 23rd time on Saturday. The ‘Dogs trail the all-time series 15-7 and are 4-5 in Fresno.
• The Bulldogs and the Broncos have not met since the 2018 Mountain West championship game, a game that became and instant classic in Fresno State history.
• For the second-straight week, the Bulldogs will be playing for hardware. Fresno State came away with the Old Oil Can following its 30-20 win at then-No. 21 San Diego State last week. This week, it is the battle for the Milk Can – the rivalry trophy shared with Boise State since 2005.
• With Fresno State’s 30-20 win at then-No. 21 San Diego State last weekend, the Bulldogs find themselves back in the AP Top 25 this week, checking in at No. 25. Fresno State moved in to the rankings, and knocked San Diego State out. The Bulldogs are the lone representative from the Mountain West in the polls this week.
• Fresno State has defeated two ranked teams in the same sesaon for the first time since 2004.
• Fresno State is 4-0 at home this season with wins against UConn (Aug. 28), Cal Poly (Sept. 11), UNLV (Sept. 24) and Nevada (Oct. 23).
• For the first time since 2018, the Fresno State football team has won both the Mountain West Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, the conference office announced on Monday. Jordan Mims was named the Offensive Player of the Week while Evan Williams was named the Defensive Player of the Week.
• With a win against Nevada on Oct. 23, Fresno State became bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.
• Fresno State’s 2021 team captains are quarterback Jake Haener, running back Ronnie Rivers, defensive end David Perales and linebacker Tyson Maeva.
• QB Jake Haener has 10 career 300-yard passing games, in just 14 career games. The senior passed Kevin Sweeney (1983-86) on the all-time list and is tied for third in program history with 10 300-yard passing games in a career.
• Haener’s six 300-yard passing games this season ties for third in program history, in a single season. David Carr holds the record with 11 in 2001.
• Fresno State is No. 4 in the FBS in fumbles recovered this season (10). The Bulldogs have recovered at least one fumble in each game on the year, with a season-best two at then-No. 13 UCLA.
• In the last three games, Fresno State has totaled seven interceptions with four against Wyoming, one against Nevada and two at San Diego State. Fresno State’s eight interceptions is its most since 2019 when the ‘Dogs had 11.
• Senior linebacker Tyson Maeva will face his former team on Saturday. Maeva played for the Broncos from 2016-18.
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS
Boise State is 4-4 (2-2 MW) this season, while being 3-1 on the road. Boise State has won 12-consecutive conference road games, dating back to a Nov. 25, 2017 loss to Fresno State (28-17). The Broncos are coming off a 28-19 win over Colorado State. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier threw three touchdown passes and Boise State erased a 13-0 first-quarter deficit to knock off The Rams. Despite going 2-3 to open the season for the first time since 2001, the Broncos were able to pick up a notable win over then-ranked No. 10 BYU on Oct. 9 (26-17). Boise State is led by first-year head coach Andy Avalos. Avalos was previously the defensive coordinator for the
Fresno State and Boise State will meet for the 23rd time on Saturday. The ‘Dogs trail the all-time series 15-7 and are 4-5 in Fresno. Fresno State has won the last two contests played in Bulldog Stadium. The last time the Bulldogs and Broncos played in Fresno, Fresno State came away with a 28-17 victory (2017). Matching up as conference opponents for 18 of the 22 previous meetings, Fresno State and Boise State were both members of the WAC for 10 games (2001-10) and the Mountain West for the last five regular season conference games and the 2014, 2017 and 2018 Mountain West championship games. After winning the series’ first three games (1977, 1984 & 1996), the ‘Dogs have won four of the last 19 meetings, with all three wins at home (2005, 2013, 2017 & 2018).
The Bulldogs and the Broncos have not met since the 2018 Mountain West championship game, a game that became and instant classic in Fresno State history. With the 2018 Mountain West Championship game in the balance in overtime on a snow covered field, running back Ronnie Rivers skated in from one-yard on an option pitch from senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion for a touchdown to give Fresno State a 19-16 win over Boise State, its third Mountain West title, and avenged its 2014 and 2017 championship game road losses to BSU in its fourth overall championship game appearance. The loss was just the ninth for the Broncos at Albertsons Stadium since 2000 and their first overtime loss at home since 2007. It was Fresno State’s first win on the blue turf and first win at Boise State since 1984. Mykal Walker was named the Defensive MVP, finishing the night with 11 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery that led to the game’s opening touchdown
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 5:00 pm MT
UNLV Rebels at New Mexico Lobos
UNLV (0-8/0-4) will play on a Saturday for the first time in three weeks when it travels to New Mexico (3-5/1-3) … The game will be shown by Stadium and available online at unlvrebels.com and on various Sinclair stations, including Cox channel 90 in Las Vegas … The Rebels are coming off a 51-20 loss at in-state rival UNR while the Lobos had the week off … All eight opponents who have played UNLV in 2021 currently boast a winning record and combine for an eye-popping mark of 49-17 … Earlier this year the Rebels played three consecutive games vs. ranked teams for the first time in school history and four of the seven FBS teams who faced UNLV have spent time in the AP Top 25 … Currently standing 27th in the nation with 93.6 YPG, Charles Williams comes in with the most career net rushing yards gained on the FBS level (3,689) among all current players. Liberty’s Joshua Mack has more career yards but a majority of them were gained on the FCS level before transferring to his current school. Williams needs 45 yards to pass Tim Cornett (2010-13) and become UNLV’s career rushing king … After adding a pick on Friday in Reno, DB Phillip Hill is tied for second in the Mountain West with three interceptions, which is one more than UNLV had as a team during the shortened 2020 season. The Rebels now have six interceptions overall this fall.
REBELS vs. LOBOS NOTES…
Despite UNLV and New Mexico both calling Las Vegas home last season during the pandemic, the teams have not played each other since 2018 … UNM’s 50-14 win in the most recent meeting, which took place at now-closed Sam Boyd Stadium, tied the all-time series at 12-12 … UNLV has taken six of the last nine vs. UNM, including the last two staged in Albuquerque … Eight of the last 14 games played between these two programs have been decided by seven points or less … These schools played five straight seasons (1978-82) when UNLV first thought itself headed to the Western Athletic Conference … Ironically, the teams never met while both actually were members of the WAC (1996-98) … UNLV’s second-year running backs coach Scott Baumgartner, who is in his first season also serving as the Rebels’ special teams coordinator, was a member of the Lobos’ staff from 2013-19.
The Rebels have lost five games this season by one score … WR Steve Jenkins shined at Mackay Stadium for the second straight trip, finishing with 12 receptions for 133 yards in Reno on Friday. It was his second 100-yard game of the season and second at UNR after a 140-yard, two-TD performance in 2019. The dozen catches on Friday tied for the third-most in school history and were the most by a Rebel since Phillip Payne had 13 vs. Southern Utah in 2011. Jenkins leads the team in catches (32), yards (420) and touchdown receptions (4) … UNLV has two of the top tacklers in the MW this fall as Austin Ajiake is 22nd in the nation with 9.2 TPG while fellow-LB Jacoby Windmon is tied for 25th at 9.0 … The Rebels rank 19th nationally in Red Zone Offense at 91.7 percent (22-24). The team’s only misses inside the opponent 20-yard line this season came at UTSA when UNLV failed to convert on a fourth-and-one at the Roadrunner 20 and then when the clock ran out to end the SJSU game … On the other side, UNLV ranks 51st in Red Zone Defense, with opponents converting to points at an 80.5% clip … UNLV PK Daniel Gutierrez set the school record by making his 15th and then 16th consecutive field goal vs. SJSU, besting Jim Cook’s long-standing mark of 14 straight set in 1987, before his fourth-quarter attempt was blocked to end the historic streak. Gutierrez had made at least one field goal in every game this fall before he did not attempt one last week at UNR … UNLV started a different quarterback in the first three games of the season (all of whom were making their first collegiate start) before Doug Brumfield took the opening snap at Fresno State for his second start. Former TCU transfer Justin Rogers started the season-opener before Brumfield relieved him in the second half. Brumfield then started at ASU before being knocked out with an injury. That necessitated true freshman Cameron Friel making his collegiate debut vs. Iowa State in Game Three — the first true freshman to start at QB for UNLV since Omar Clayton in 2007. Against SJSU, Friel became the first Rebel QB to play an entire game snce Max Gilliam went the distance vs. Fresno State in Game Three last season … UNLV, in fact, has had four QBs complete passes this fall as the ISU game also saw the Rebel debut of walk-on grad transfer Tate Martell, a summer addition who starred at Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School before signing with Ohio State and then transferring to Miami … Friel’s 64.5 completion percentage is on track to break Clayton’s school record by a freshman (61.1 in 2007) … UNLV has
not returned a punt for a touchdown in 20 years — the longest drought in the nation. The last Rebel to do it was Troy Mason, who went 52 yards vs. San Diego State on Oct. 13, 2001, at Sam Boyd Stadium … UNLV’s roster includes nine Super Seniors made possible when the NCAA did not count 2020 against player eligibility because of COVID-19. The unusual group of Rebels includes four sixth-year players and one — offensive lineman Clayton Bradley, who transferred to Las Vegas as a sixth-year graduate of USC a year ago and chose to play one more fall — who is one of 18 players lining up for their SEVENTH season across the FBS this fall
New Mexico Lobos
The Opening List
Single digits are fun. If it’s your birthday and it’s a single digit, you are probably getting cake (if your parents truly loved you they would get you ice cream cake, but we digress) and some fun toys. If you are counting down until seeing a loved one, single digits is even better, and if you are a defense and counting up the points allowed in a game, well, single digits is impossible to beat. Such was the case on Saturday, October 23, when the Lobos held Wyoming to a single digit score, allowing just a second quarter field goal in a 14-3 win. The win was something of an anomaly on a couple of fronts. The 3 points allowed was the first time that the Lobos had held ANY team in single digits since a 66-0 win over Mississippi Valley State on September 5, 2015, the season opener that year. It was the first time allowing single digits to an FBS team since a 21-9 win at UTSA on October 4, 2014 (thank you missed extra point). However, it was the first time allowing single digits in a Mountain West game since October 18, 2008, when UNM bludgeoned San Diego State 70-7, the final of Rocky Long’s 65 wins at UNM, and also the last time UNM beat SDSU. However, while the Lobo Football record book lists the top-10 highest scoring games in school history, where did Saturday’s game rank among the lowest scoring games in Lobo Football history? Now, there were some funky scores and very un-modern football played way back when in the infancy of college football (and the infancy of the state of New Mexico), so here are the lowest combined scoring games for Lobo Football since 1958, which is considered the dawn of modern college football in a very low-scoring Opening List.
Flipping the Script
When Danny Gonzales took over the New Mexico Lobos, he inherited a team on a 15-game Mountain West losing streak. Thankfully the football gods were kind to Gonzales and made things easy for him to end that streak. Did you seriously believe that? NOTHING was easy. UNM opened the 2020 season without the benefit of any real practice (the team could only practice in pods of five, which made life tricky to say the least). The team than couldn’t play the opener, and then had it’s home game with San Jose State moved five days prior to the game to San Jose. Then while sitting on the Tarmac to go the San Jose, it was announced that UNM would relocate to Las Vegas for an indefinite amount of time (which turned out to a very definite 43 days). The team lost five more conference games to have a 20 game conference losing streak. Since then? The Lobos under Danny Gonzales are 3-3 in conference games. That 3-3 mark is the same or better than every team in the division except Air Force and Boise State, which are both 4-2. Even better, Gonzales has won three conference games in the last six. Prior to his arrival, UNM had won three conference games from November 19, 2016 to November 30, 2019, a span of 26 games (meaning UNM was 3-23 in that time frame and 3-28 until winning the final two of the 2020 season).
The Legend of QB5
It’s at this point we should explain why Isaiah Chavez has the nickname of “QB5”, especially since he wore 13 last year and then changed his number to 6 this year.
At the start of the 2020 season, the Lobos had three quarterbacks back that had started at least one football game in 2019: Brandt Hughes, Tevaka Tuioti and Trae Hall. Hughes was the 2019 opening day starter, but he was injured before we ever got going for 2020. For arguments sake, he and Tevaka were QB1 and QB2. Tevaka got hurt in game two, so that meant Trae Hall was up (QB3). Hall got hurt in game 5, putting the ball in Connor Genal’s hands (QB4). Genal got hurt in game 6, and Isaiah Chavez, the lone hombre left that was a quarterback on the roster, was in as QB5. He led UNM to its first win of the year with a 44-yard touchdown pass, and then he started the finale, and won that one as well. This year, he missed about six weeks with an injury, and in that time, Terry Wilson started six games and Trae Hall moved to receiver
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 7:00 pm PT
San José State Spartans at Nevada Wolf Pack
San José State Spartans
San José State head coach Brent Brennan: In his fifth season as the Spartans’ head coach. Has a major college coaching record of 20-34, all at San José State. Brennan returned to San José State for 2017 after six seasons as a receivers coach at Oregon State. He was a Spartan assistant coach during the 2005 through 2010 seasons. He is 1-3 as a head coach against Nevada. Since 1990, Brennan is just the second San Jose State football head coach to amass 20 head coaching victories with the Spartans. The late Dick Tomey (1938-2019) led San Jose State to 25 wins in 60 games during the 2005 through 2009 seasons. Brennan was named the 2020 Lombardi Foundation College Football Coach of the Year, Mountain West Coach of the Year and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 5 Coach of the Year. He is the first San Jose State football coach to be named a national coach of the year and the first Spartan to earn Mountain West Coach of the Year honors and receive first-place votes in balloting for the Associated Press Coach of the Year. He received three first-place votes in the 2020 Associated Press Coach of the
Year balloting. Brennan’s early coaching career included serving as a graduate assistant at the University of Hawai’i for the 1998 football season.
Nevada head coach Jay Norvell: In his fifth season as the Wolf Pack head coach. Has a head coaching record of 31-24, all at Nevada. He is 3-1 as a head coach against San José State.
Series history: Nevada leads the series, 22-10-1. San Jose State won last year’s meeting, 30-20 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Originally a home game for the Spartans, the game was moved to Las Vegas due to Santa Clara County COVID-19 protocols in November and December 2020. Nevada’s last victory in the series was a 41-38 decision in 2019 in Mackay Stadium. The Wolf Pack has wins in its last nine games played in Reno. San Jose State’s last win at Mackay Stadium was a 49-30 victory on October 21, 2000 when the Spartans scored seven rushing touchdowns. Prior to the 2020 win over Nevada, San Jose State’s last win over the Wolf Pack was a
14-10 triumph in 2016.
First winning streak in 2021: San Jose State heads into the Nevada game with its first winning streak of the season after defeating UNLV, 27-20, on October 21 in Las Vegas, and holding off Wyoming, 27-21, on October 30, at CEFCU Stadium in San Jose. The last time San Jose State had a three-game winning streak was in 2020 when the Spartans won their first seven games en route to a Mountain West championship. Aiming for two over .500: San Jose State heads into the Nevada game with its fourth opportunity to go two games over .500 for the season and ensure at least a .500 mark in Mountain West action. The last time San Jose State had a three-game winning streak was in 2020 when the Spartans won their first seven games en route to a Mountain West championship. Assuring a .500 Mountain West record: The Nevada game marks the first of three San Jose State opportunities to finish a Mountain West schedule with a .500 record or better for the fourth time since joining the conference in 2013. The Spartans are 3-2 in conference competition heading into the Nevada game and have Utah State and Fresno State at home to close out the conference schedule.
San Jose State vs. Nevada in the NCAA record book: San Jose State’s 64-45 win over Nevada on November 10, 2001 was the highest scoring game in the 121-year history of the series dating back to 1899. The one NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) record that remains from a game that featured 1,640 yards of total offense by the two teams (San Jose State, 849; Nevada, 791) is:
Most Receiving Yards Gained Without Scoring A Touchdown
Nate Burleson, Nevada, 12 receptions, 326 yards.
Ties to both schools: San Jose State wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Eric Scott was Nevada’s wide receivers coach from 2017 through 2020 and added the responsibilities of recruiting coordinator in 2018.
San Jose State wide receiver Charles Ross was a member of the 2019 and 2020 University of Nevada football teams. Ross redshirted his first season. In 2020, he played in eight games for the Wolf Pack and caught four passes for 37 yards.
Nevada defensive back A.J. King is the son of former San Jose State running back Art King (1980-83). As a senior in 1983, Art King was third on the Spartans in rushing with 236 yards and one touchdown on 50 carries and fourth in pass receiving catching 32 passes for 434 yards and two touchdowns.
Ground game picking up: San Jose State rushed for a season-high 238 yards on 37 carries in its 27-21 win over Wyoming. The Spartans now have back-to-back 200-plus yard rushing games and have three games this season rushing for 200 or more yards. After averaging just 76.7 rushing yards per game and scoring three touchdowns in
four September contests, San Jose State averaged 180.6 rushing yards per game and ran for eight six-pointers in five October encounters. The last time San Jose State had at least three 200-plus rushing yardage games in one season was in 2016. The 2015 season was the last time the Spartans gained at least 200 yards on the ground four times in one season. Pass rush gaining steam: In San Jose State’s first six games, the Spartans were credited with 11 quarterback sacks. San Jose State doubled its season total to 22 in the last three games with three sacks each in the San Diego State and Wyoming home games and a season-high five at UNLV. Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall are one-two on the Spartans in quarterback sacks with 6.0 and 4.0, respectively. Season-high two pass interceptions vs. Wyoming: The recent Wyoming win marked the first time in 2021, San Jose State came up with two pass interceptions in a game. Linebacker Tysyn Parker and safety Jay Lenard each had one interception and each interception resulted in a subsequent field goal by kicker Matt Mercurio. San Jose State enters the Nevada game with three pass interceptions on the season.
Nevada Wolf Pack
NEVADA HOSTS DEFENDING MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPION SAN JOSE STATE
Nevada (6-2, 3-1), following a 51-20 win over rival UNLV, hosts rival San Jose State (5-4, 3-2) for a 7 p.m. (PT) kickoff at Mackay Stadium. Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on FS2 with Adam Alexander (play-by-play) and Devin Gardner (analyst) on the call. The Wolf Pack faces the Spartans for the 34th time in matchup history. The Pack looks to secure a big home victory and remain squarely in the Conference Championship hunt with each of the top-3 teams in the West Division having one loss. QB Carson Strong has thrown for over 400 yards in back-to-back games to lead the nation’s 3rd-best passing attack. The Wolf Pack Radio Network will call the game as well on 94.5 FM with John Ramey (play-byplay) and Mike Edwards (analyst) in the booth, with the 60-minute pregame show to begin at 6 p.m. PT
Nevada and San Jose State will meet for the 34th time in series history on Saturday. Nevada holds a 21-10-1 series edge over the Spartans, winning 10 of the last 12
meetings. San Jose State snapped the Pack’s three-year winning streak over the Spartans in 2020 after defeating Nevada 30-20 in San Jose. Nevada’s 62-7 victory over the Spartans in 2009 is the series’ largest margin of victory.
NEVADA LOOKING FOR SEVENTH 2021 SEASON WIN
Nevada opened its 2021 season with a 22-17 victory over the California Golden Bears in Berkeley on Sept. 4. Prior to the win over Cal, Nevada’s last road win at a Power 5 team also came at Cal when Nevada defeated the Golden Bears 31-24 on Sept. 1, 2012. After Cal opened the game with a 14-0 lead, Nevada scored 22 unanswered points to lead the remainder of the game. Carson Strong threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, posting his ninth 300- yard passing game of his career. Kicker Brandon Talton recorded his 12th multi-FG game of his career after going 3-for-4 for Nevada. Romeo Doubs finished with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, Cole Turner led all Pack receivers with seven catches (for 75 yards), and WR Tory Horton led the Pack with 94 receiving yards on three catches. Elijah Cooks recorded his first touchdown since the 2020 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Jan. 3, 2020. The Pack defense came up clutch to secure Nevada’s victory. Cornerback Isaiah Essissima, a transfer from Wake Forest, made his first interception in a Nevada jersey in his Wolf Pack debut, stopping a late fourth-quarter Cal drive with a pick. Sam Hammond and Daniel Grzesiak tallied sacks for the Pack, including Hammond’s 13-yard loss which resulted in a missed Cal field goal attempt.
JoJuan Claiborne led the Pack defense with 10 tackles (eight solo), and shared a tackle-for-loss. Nevada handled business on Sept. 11 in its first home game of the 2021 season. The Pack defeated Idaho State, 49-10. Carson Strong powered the Pack offense, throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Strong completed 34 of 43 passes, including two touchdowns to Elijah Cooks, who finished with seven receptions for 89 yards. Devonte Lee recorded a 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth. Cole Turner had a touchdown catch. Backup quarterback Nate Cox stepped in the game in the fourth quarter, delivering a 43-yard touchdown to Harry Ballard.
Nevada dropped its first game of the season to No. 25 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Sept. 18. Despite the 38-17 final score being in favor of the Wildcats, the Pack and Kansas State began the fourth quarter tied at 17. WR Romeo Doubs made 7 catches for 121 yards for a season high in yardage. His previous season-best was 83 yards on six receptions against Cal on Sept. 4. It marked his most receiving yards since he gained 133 yards on 5 receptions at Hawai’i on Nov. 21, 2020.
Nevada secured its first conference win of the season in Boise, Idaho, on Oct. 2. The Pack defeated the Broncos, 41-31, in a packed Albertson’s Stadium. Carson Strong threw for 263 yards and a touchdown while running back Toa Taua rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Nevada snapped its six-game losing streak to the Broncos, dating back to 2010.
Nevada last won in Boise in 1997. Tristan Nichols forced a fumble on Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier. Then, five plays later, Taua punched it into the end zone from 12 yards out to give Nevada a permanent lead. Placekicker Brandon Talton had a strong game, going 4-for-4 in field goal attempts and 3-for-3 on PATs.
Nevada picked up its fourth win of the season after cruising to a 55-28 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday. Carson Strong threw a career-high six touchdown passes — four in the second quarter — and Nevada cruised to a 55-28 win over New Mexico State on Saturday night.
Strong, who did not play in the fourth quarter, finished 25-of-32 passing for 377 yards with one interception. His six touchdown passes were one shy of Nevada’s single-game record, and were the most by a Wolf Pack quarterback since Mike Maxwell twice tossed seven touchdowns in a game, against UNLV and Louisiana-Monroe, in 1995.
Nevada took the opening kick of the second half and Turner’s 3-yard scoring catch capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive that made it 38-3. Strong connected with Henry Ballard for a 33-yard touchdown about four minutes later and cornerback BerDale Robins ripped the ball from New Mexico State’s Jared Wyatt and raced 25 yards for a score to give Nevada a 52-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Carson Strong passed for 395 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns and Nevada pulled away after halftime to beat Hawaii 34-17 in Mountain West Conference play on Saturday. The Wolf Pack (5-1, 2-0) scored first on a Brandon Talton 23-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, but the lead lasted just one play after Dae Dae Hunter took a first-down handoff and raced 75 yards to the end zone for Hawaii (3-4, 1-2). Nevada went up 10-7 on Toa Taua’s 6-yard TD run with 12:58 left in the second quarter, but again the lead lasted one play after Hunter took a first-down handoff 81 yards for a TD. The Wolf Pack answered with a 10-yard TD run by Taua for a 17-14 lead. Both teams added field goals before halftime.
Strong took over in the third quarter for Nevada, throwing scoring passes of 28 yards to Romeo Doubs a 3-yarder to Tory Horton as the Wolf Pack upped their advantage to 34-17 with 2:25 left in the period. Strong completed 34 of 54 passes. Cole Turner had a career-best 12 catches for 175 yards.
Fresno State defeated the Pack 34-32 on Oct. 23. Down 34-26, Nevada’s Carson Strong threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Cole Turner to cut the deficit to two points with two seconds left, but the 2-point conversion attempt was caught out of the back of the end zone. The Wolf Pack recovered the onside kick but time expired in the scramble for the ball. Nevada football became bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season with a 51-20 win over UNLV on Friday.
Carson Strong threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, Nevada’s defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns and the Wolf Pack defeated UNLV. Strong hit all-conference receivers Romeo Doubs and Cole Turner with early touchdown passes as Nevada (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West) scored on its first four possessions. He completed passes to nine receivers.
Tight-end Turner dove away from tight coverage to make a 4-yard touchdown catch in the end zone as Nevada marched its opening possession 73 yards in five plays. Doubs made a leaping catch for a 28-yard score and a 20-0 halftime lead.
ANOTHER STRONG SHOWING
Junior QB Carson Strong threw 417 yards, which are the second-most he has thrown this season, and four touchdowns in Nevada’s win over UNLV. Strong’s 8,076-career passing-yards are 7th in Nevada football history. His 62-career passing-touchdowns are tied for 5th all time with Mike Maxwell (62, 1993-95).
Strong is 4th in passing yards per game (360.4), 4th in passing TD (24), 5th in passing yards (2,883), and 20th in passing efficiency (158.5) in the FBS (1st in Mountain West).
Strong has completed 71.1 percent of his passes (253 for 356) which is 7th in the nation and 1st in the Mountain West.
TE Cole Turner is 5th in the nation and 2nd in the Mountain West with 8 receiving touchdowns, which also leads the Wolf Pack. WR Romeo Doubs is 16th in the nation in receiving yards per game (92.6). Doubs has 2,861-career receiving yards which is 9th in program history.
TALTON NABS MW PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Brandon Talton moves into third in program history with 53 made field goals after going 3-for-3 on field goals against UNLV. Talton kicked a 52-yard field goal which is the longest this season and second longest of his career (56, 2019). It marked the fourth perfect kicking-game of the season for Talton. UNLV’s win also secured Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week for Talton. Talton is 3rd in the nation in made field goals (17), 3rd in the nation in field goals per game (2.12).
DON’T THROW NEAR HENLEY
Senior linebacker Daiyan Henley leads all FBS linebackers in interceptions this season with four. Henley’s four interceptions are tied for second nationally. He is one interception behind Jaylen Foster of South Carolina (5) for first in the nation.
NEVADA BECOMES BOWL ELIGIBLE FOR FOURTH-CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Nevada is bowl eligible for the fourth straight year under Head Coach Jay Norvell after moving to 6-2 on the year with a 51-20 victory over UNLV to retain the Fremont Cannon. The Mountain West Conference has bowl tie-ins with the Los Angeles Bowl (12/18), Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (12/22), New Mexico Bowl (12/18), Arizona Bowl (12/31), SoFi Hawai’i Bowl (12/24), and the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl (12/21). Nevada defeated Tulane 38-27 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to move to 2-1 in Bowl Games under Coach Norvell, after finishing third in the MWC with a 6-2 conference record in 2020. Bowl announcements will take place on Sunday, Dec. 5, and broadcast information for the selection show with more information will be shared prior to that date.
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 8:00 pm PT
San Diego State Aztecs at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
San Diego State Aztecs
SCENE SETTER (as of Sunday, Oct. 31)
Having matched its best eight-game record of the last 46 seasons, San Diego State (7-1; 3-1 Mountain West) plays the second of four consecutive games against the West Division of the Mountain West when it faces Hawai’i (4-5; 1-3 MW) in the final college football game on Saturday night in Honolulu.
San Diego State has responded from its last five conference losses with a double-digit victory in its next conference game (total score in those five games: San Diego State 138, Opponents 50. The Aztecs have not dropped consecutive league tilts in the same season since 2018.
San Diego State is a perfect 3-0 on the road this season. The Aztecs modest road win streak is tied for the 10th-longest active streak nationally (national leader: Ohio State, 12).
Since Oct. 10, 2015, San Diego State’s road record of 25-9 (73.5 percent) is the seventh best record in the nation.
San Diego State and Hawai’i are meeting for the 36th time, with the Aztecs owning a 22-11-2 advantage. SDSU, which won 34-10 last season in Carson, California, has won seven of the last nine games played between the teams.
San Diego State is one of only 18 schools nationally with one loss or less (six undefeated teams and 12 1-loss teams).
The Aztecs suffered its first loss in 322 days on Saturday as Fresno State defeated SDSU, 30-20 at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first 26 minutes of the game. The Aztecs chipped away at the deficit and climbed within 10 points on two occasions.
San Diego State’s four-week run in the AP Top 25 Poll was snapped this week. Nonetheless, the Aztecs, who have appeared in the poll in four of the last six seasons (2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021) continue to receive support, coming in at No. 32 with 50 points. SDSU is 28th in the coaches poll with 65 points.
San Diego State features one of the nation’s top defenses. The Aztecs are 6th in rushing defense (92.0), 7th in team passing efficiency (105.65), 12th in scoring defense (17.5), 12th in third down conversion percentage (29.4), 13th in total defense (304.9), 19th in sacks (2.88) and 21st in passes intercepted (9).
Offensively, the Aztecs average 200.8 yards per game on the ground (31st nationally) and own a 52-2 record the last 54 times they have rushed for at least 200 yards. Since 2014, San Diego State is 55-13 and has won seven consecutive games when it commits one turnover or less.
San Diego State has one of the best special teams units in the nation. The unit ranks 6th nationally according to ESPN efficiency ratings, is 2nd in blocked punts (3), 18th in kickoff returns (26.79) and sports the nation’s No. 1 punter in junior Matt Araiza. The AP mid-eason All-American and the leading candidate for the Ray Guy Award, Araiza is ahead of the NCAA FBS single-season record pace, averaging 52.2 yards per punt and has already tied the NCAA record for most 60-yard punts in a season (14)
San Diego State, which was picked to finish third in the West Division of the Mountain West this season, is 3-1 as an underdog this year and is 12-7 straight-up as an underdog since Oct. 17, 2015.
Junior defensive end Cameron Thomas has the best defensive rating in the nation (per PFF) among players with 375 snaps. He has the most quarterback hits in the nation (15), is second in the country in quarterback pressures (44) and leads the team in tackles for loss (12) and quarterback hurries (13).
Senior left tackle Zachary Thomas ranks fifth nationally among tackles in Pro Football Focus blocking grades (min. 400 snaps). In 469 snaps this season, Thomas has allowed no sacks, no QB hits and has not committed a penalty.
Defensively, San Diego State has been one of the top units nationally for the better part of a decade. In the 15 games in which Kurt Mattix has served as defensive coordinator (since the start of 2020 season), San Diego State ranks nationally tied for second in rushing touchdowns allowed (7), third in rushing yards allowed per game (89.7), third in total defense (281.6), fourth in pass efficiency defense (109.0), fifth in yards per rush (2.8) and fifth in scoring defense (16.8).
Searching for the formula to a San Diego State victory? Look no further.
San Diego State is 52-2 the last 54 times it has rushed for 200 yards. The Aztecs have surpassed 200 yards rushing in the first five games this season.
The Aztecs are 71-15 since 2011 when committing one turnover or less, something SDSU has done in 23 of its last 29 games.
San Diego State’s 29 turnovers since the start of the 2019 are tied for the 8th fewest in the country (Kent State leads with 21).
SDSU had an advantage in time of possession in 20 of the last 29 games. Since 2011, the Aztecs are 30-7 when possessing the football for at least 35 minutes.
The Aztecs are 62-3 since 2011 when holding the opposition to 17 points or less. SDSU has held 16 of its last 23 opponents to 17 points or less.
The Aztecs are 33-7 since 2011 when allowing less than 150 passing yards.
San Diego State is 52-5 the last 57 times it has held the opposition to a 33.3 percent or less mark on third down.
Since 2009, San Diego State’s record broken down by opponent passing efficency: less than 110: 61-8; between 110-150: 39-24; greater than 150: 5-23.
Since the start of the 2015 campaign, SDSU is 39-2 when holding its opponent to a passing efficiency rating of below 110. SDSU has done that in five of eight games this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS / OVERALL TRENDS
The Aztecs have are 39-2 the last 41 times when owning a turnover advantage.
San Diego State is 19-2 the last 21 times it has an advantage in field position.
Since the start of the 2015 season, San Diego State is tied for the most kickoff returns for touchdowns (13) with Kansas State.
Since the start of the 2020 season, San Diego State has eight non-offensive touchdowns, tied for fourth nationally (Alabama and Houston, 10).
This season, the Aztecs have four non-offensive touchdowns (two punt return, kickoff return, interception return). That is tied for 7th, two behind Houston, Middle Tennessee, Ohio State and UTSA (6).
THE 7-1 START
San Diego State is enjoying its third 7-1 start in the last six seasons.
This is the eighth time in the Division I era that the Aztecs have won at least seven of their first eight games of the season.
San Diego State’s 7-0 start this year was its first in the last 46 seasons (since 1975).
In the Division I era, this is the first time SDSU has opened a season 7-0 with a pair of victories over teams from a Power 5 Conference.
With a victory Saturday, San Diego State will match its best start in the last 52 seasons.
THIRD QUARTER WARRIORS
Through eight games, San Diego State has outscored the opposition, 82-17, in the third quarter.
In fact, the Aztec have allowed only 16 points and one offensive touchdowns in the third quarter of its last 11 games dating back to last season.
The two third quarter touchdowns the Aztecs have allowed points this season came on a 27-yard fumble return against New Mexico and a controversial touchdown by Air Force. That is the only third quarter offensive TD allowed by SDSU in its last 11 third quarters.
BULLET NOTES – OFFENSE
San Diego State returns eight starters on offense this season – senior running back Greg Bell, senior tight end Daniel Bellinger, junior right guard William Dunkle, senior left guard Chris Martinez, junior wide receiver Jesse Matthews, senior wide receiver Kobe Smith, senior left tackle Zachary Thomas, and senior center Alama Uluave.
Jeff Hecklinski is in his second season as offensive coordinator at San Diego State. Hecklinski was on Hoke’s original SDSU staff in 2009 and 2010 as the assistant head coach, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He was also with Hoke at Michigan (2011-14) and Ball State (2004-08). He replaced Jeff Horton, who now serves as the associate head coach and running backs coach.
Of all FBS schools that have played at least 63 games since 2015, San Diego State is fourth in fewest turnovers with 87 (LSU is first with 81).
Full bios of selected offensive players:
– RB Chance Bell – pgs. 40-42
– RB Greg Bell – pgs. 42-43
– TE Daniel Bellinger – pgs. 43-44
– QB Jordon Brookshire – pgs. 45-46
– RB Jordan Byrd – pgs. 47-50
– RG William Dunkle – pgs. 47-50
– QB Lucas Johnson – pgs. 56-57
– WR Jesse Matthews – pgs. 61-63
– WR Kobe Smith – pgs. 71-72
– LT Zachary Thomas – pgs. 74-76
The Aztecs are 43-4 the last 47 times they have scored at least 30 points. SDSU has won its last nine games when scoring at least 30 points.
Since Oct. 3, 2015, San Diego State is 52-9 when scoring at least 20 points.
SDSU is 24-6 since 2011 when getting at least 36 minutes of time of possession.
Since the beginning of 2014, SDSU is 55-13 when committing one turnover or less (seven straight wins) and 12-16 when having two or more turnovers in the game. San Diego State has one turnover or less in 20 of its last 26 games.
San Diego State has one turnover or less in 41 of its last 56 games.
SDSU is 46-9 in the last 55 games when owning an edge in time of possession.
RB Greg Bell is tied for 10th in the Mountain West in total touchdowns (6).
C Alama Uluave has played the most offensive snaps (535) on the season.
According to Pro Football Focus, RG William Dunkle has allowed just five pressures (no sacks) on the season in 204 passing opportunities.
Among offensive linemen, Dunkle has the second-highest run block grade (93.9, min. 375 snaps) and the fifth-highest overall grade (90.6, min. 375 snaps). Both marks lead the Mountain West as well.
According to Pro Football Focus, LT Zachary Thomas has not allowed a quarterback sack or hit in 188 opportunities on the season and just five hurries.
Z. Thomas also has not committed a penalty in 469 offensive snaps.
Z. Thomas is graded as the ninth-ranked offensive lineman in the Mountain West by Pro Football Focus (88.6, min. 300 snaps) (No. 2 in Mountain West) and No. 13 run blocker (87.9, min. 300 snaps.
San Diego State is 52-2 the last 54 times it has rushed for at least 200 yards and is 49-1 in its last 50 regular-season games when rushing for 200-plus yards.
San Diego State has a 100-yard rusher in 46 of the last 83 games since 2015 (58, 100-yard rushers total). Since Jeff Horton arrived as the running back coach in 2011, SDSU has a 100-yard rusher in 80 of the 135 games and 96, 100-yard rushers overall.
San Diego State had two 100-yard rushers at New Mexico State (Jordan Byrd – 118 and Chance Bell – 116) on Sept. 14, 2019 for the 30th time in program history. The Aztecs are 29-1 in those occasions, including a 19-game win streak.
San Diego State ran for at least 200 yards in each of the first five games this season, which was its longest streak since the final five games of the 2017 season.
The Aztecs had back-to-back games with at least four rushing touchdowns (Sept. 25 vs. Towson and Oct. 9 vs. New Mexico) for the first time since the 2015 season (Nov. 21 at UNLV and Nov. 28 vs. Nevada).
RB Greg Bell ranks in a tie for third in the Mountain West in total rushing attempts (137, T-24th in FBS), fourth in rushing attempts per game (17.13, 27th in FBS), rushing yards (668, 40th in FBS) and rushing yards per game (83.50, 44th in FBS), tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns (6, T-59th in FBS) and seventh in rushing yards per carry (4.88).
G. Bell became SDSU’s 80th different 100-yard rusher with 111 yards vs. UNLV in the 2020 opener on Oct. 24.
G. Bell ran for 161 yards against New Mexico State on Sept. 4, 2021, the sixth most in an Aztec season opener, trailing only the likes of David Turner (239 in 1976), Marshall Faulk (220 vs. USC in 1992 and 181 vs. CSUN in 1993), Rashaad Penny (197 vs. UC Davis in 2017) and Ronnie Hillman (189 vs. Cal Poly in 2011).
G. Bell’s 161 were the most by an Aztec since Rashaad Penny had 221 vs. Army West Point in the 2017 Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23).
G. Bell became the first Aztec in program history to start his Aztec career with three straight 100-yard rushing games to begin the 2020 season (ended up with four straight).
G. Bell is one of 10 Aztecs in program history with at least four consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
G. Bell is one of 15 Aztecs in program history with at least eight 100-yard rushing games.
G. Bell has nine 100-yard rushing games in 19 career Division I games, including eight times at San Diego State in 15 games.
G. Bell already ranks 24th in SDSU program history with 1,305 rushing yards in just 15 games.
QB Jordon Brookshire ranks in a tie for 10th in the Mountain West in rushing touchdowns (4).
Byrd had a 73-yard touchdown at Utah State on Oct. 31, 2020, the longest by an Aztec since Rashaad Penny’s 81-yard touchdown run against Army West Point in the 2017 Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23).
If you take away the five times QB Jordon Brookshire has been sacked (for 34 yards), he has rushed 23 times for 141 yards (6.1 avg.) and four touchdowns.
Brookshire’s four rushing touchdowns rank in a tie for 23rd in the country among quarterbacks (second in MW).
Brookshire rushed 23 times for 38 yards in his first career start against Colorado State on Dec. 5, 2020, which matched Kevin O’Connell (vs. San José State on Sept. 24, 2005) for the most by an Aztec quarterback since at least 1996.
If you take away the five times QB Lucas Johnson has been sacked (for 43 yards), he has rushed 22 times for 150 yards (6.8 avg.).
Johnson ran for 87 yards against Utah, the most by an Aztec quarterback since Ryan Katz had 89 at Fresno State on Sept. 29, 2021 and the fourth most in a game since at least 1996. Including in the 87 rushing yards was a career-long 54-yard rush, which was the longest by an Aztec quarterback since Katz had a 67-yarder at Fresno State on Sept. 29, 2012 and third longest since at least 1996.
Johnson’s 10.0 YPC average led the country among quarterbacks (min. 8 att.) in 2020.
Since the start of the 2015 season, San Diego State has thrown 35 interceptions. That is tied for the fewest picks in the nation over that span (min. 45 GP). In contrast, Texas State has thrown 96 interceptions over that span, which is the most since 2015.
QB Jordon Brookshire earned his first career start against Colorado State on Dec. 5, 2020, completing 14 of 24 pass attempts for 130 yards and a touchdown without throwing an interception. Brookshire became the fifth quarterback to win his starting debut over the last six chances (SDSU quarterbacks were 1-13 in the previous 14 debuts prior to this stretch).
Brookshire is 5-1 as the SDSU’s starting quarterback.
Among freshmen in SDSU single-season history in 2019, WR Jesse Matthews ranked second in receptions (48) and third in receiving yards (633).
Matthews had the fifth-most catches (48) in the country without a dropped pass in 2019 (according to Pro Football Focus).
WR Kobe Smith had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games in 2019, the first Aztec to do so since Ezell Ruffin had three straight in 2013.
Smith and Matthews are two of 41 players in program history with at least three 100-yard receiving games.
Among the tight ends in the Mountain West, Bellinger ranks fourth in receiving yards (216) and receptions (16), and tied for eighth touchdowns (1).
Against Arizona on Sept. 11, Bellinger became the first Aztec tight end to break 100 receiving yards since Gavin Escobar had 108 vs. UNLV on Oct. 27, 2012. His 113 yards were the most by an Aztec tight end since Escobar had 117 against North Dakota on Sept. 15, 2012.
Bellinger became the 87th different Aztec to record a 100-yard receiving game
Bellinger’s 73-yard catch from Brookshire against Arizona was the longest by an Aztec tight end since at least the 1996 season, the seventh longest in the country this year by a tight end and the longest by an Aztec since Ryan Agnew connected on a 74-yarder to Jesse Matthews in the 2019 New Mexico Bowl.
WR Elijah Kothe caught four passes for 105 yards (all in the first half) against Fresno State on Oct. 31, making him the 88th different Aztec with a 100-yard receiving game.
QB Lucas Johnson was 2-for-3 with two touchdown passes at San Jose State on Oct. 15, 2021. He became just the 13th FBS quarterback since 1996 to only throw touchdown passes for his completions (min. 2 completions).
BULLET NOTES – DEFENSE
Kurt Mattix is in his second season as defensive coordinator at San Diego State. He previously served as defensive coordinator at Eastern Kentucky and worked with Hoke at Michigan. Mattix was named a nominee for the Broyles Award for the top assistant coach last season.
San Diego State’s returns eight starters off a team that finished third in the nation in total defense (283.50) and 11th in scoring defense (17.75) a year ago. Starters that are back for the Aztecs are senior defensive tackle Jonah Tavai, senior defensive end Keshawn Banks, junior defensive end Cameron Thomas, senior linebackers Andrew Aleki and Caden McDonald, senior safety Trenton Thompson, senior cornerback Tayler Hawkins and junior safety Cedarious Barfield.
Full bios of selected defensive players:
– DE Keshawn Banks – pgs. 38-39
– CB Tayler Hawkins – pgs. 55-56
– LB Caden McDonald – pgs. 63-64
– S Patrick McMorris – pgs. 64-65
– LB Michael Shawcroft – pgs. 64-65
– DT Jonah Tavai – pgs. 72-73
– DE Cameron Thomas – pgs. 73-74
– S Trenton Thompson – pgs. 76-77
SDSU has the fifth-best scoring defense since the 2014 season (18.4) and the sixth-best total defense (308.8) n SDSU had gone 29 straight games keeping its opponents under 450 yards of total offense until Fresno State totaled 485 against the Aztecs on Oct. 30. It was the longest active streak in FBS at the time.
San Diego State has held its opponent to single digits 18 times time since 2015 (83 games).
San Diego State has forced at least one turnover in 21 consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in the country, only trailing Marshall (22).
The Aztecs have allowed just 369 points over the last 94 quarters (3.93 points per quarter) (does not include overtime periods).
SDSU has allowed just 443 points over the last 29 games (15.3 ppg).
San Diego State has held its opponent scoreless on its opening possession in eight straight games and 62 times in 83 games since 2015.
This year opponents have had 109 drives where they tried to score on SDSU’s defense (excludes kneel downs to end half/game). The Aztecs have forced three-and-outs (or less) in 50 of those drives (45.9 pct.). SDSU is averaging 6.25 three-and-outs per game.
The Aztecs are allowing 4.34 yards per play, which ranks fifth in the country.
Opponents punt 0.11 times per offensive play against the Aztecs, which ranks first in the country (only includes games between FBS opponents).
San Diego State is allowing just 0.265 points per play against FBS teams, which ranks 12th in the country.
Opponents average 3.3 punts per offensive score, which ranks as the second-lowest mark in the country (only includes games between FBS opponents).
SDSU’s FBS scoring defense ranks (only includes games between FBS opponents) by quarter: 1st – T-21st (3.42); 2nd – T-7th (3.71); 3rd – T-7th (2.43); 4th – T-39th (5.43) – and by half: 1st – T-5th (7.14); 2nd – 9th (7.86).
CB Tayler Hawkins had played in 47 straight games, the longest streak on the team, before missing the Towson game on Sept. 25 with an injury.
Hawkins and S Trenton Thompson have each played 51 games, which is the most on the team.
LB Caden McDonald has played in 42 straight games, the longest streak on the team.
McDonald has started 25 straight games, the longest streak on the Aztec defense and tied for the longest on the team.
DE Keshawn Banks and DT/DE Cameron Thomas have the most starts among active Aztecs (28).
Thompson has played the most defensive snaps (543) on the team.
C. Thomas ranks second in the Mountain West in tackles for loss (12.0, 9th in FBS) and is 10th in tackles for loss yards (40, T-67th in FBS).
According to Pro Football Focus, C. Thomas is graded out as top defensive player in the country (90.5, min. 400 snaps).
C. Thomas also has the most quarterback hits (15) and second-most quarterback pressures (sacks/hits/hurries) (44).
Over C. Thomas’ last 11 games (three last year and eight this year), he has totaled 69 tackles (37 solo), 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
LB Michael Shawcroft and LB Segun Olubi each rank in a tie for third in the Mountain West in forced fumbles (2, T-27th in FBS). Shawcroft is also tied for fourth in forced fumbles per game (0.29, T-31st in FBS), while Olubi is tied for seventh in forced fumbles per game (0.25, T-42nd in FBS).
Olubi forced two fumbles in the opener against New Mexico State, which is tied for the most in a game in school history and the most in a FBS game this season. The feat has now happened 14 times in program history.
CB Noah Avinger, CB Dallas Branch, LB Garret Fountain and S Patrick McMorris rank in a tie for 67th in FBS in fumble recoveries (1).
CB Noah Avinger started the opener against New Mexico State, becoming the first true freshman Aztec cornerback to start since Leon McFadden in 2009 and just the third true freshman to start on defense since 2009 (also S Tariq Thompson in 2017).
Avinger was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Week on Sept. 27 for his play against Towson (Sept. 25) when he came up with three tackles (two solo), including 0.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a pass breakup in just his second career start as a true freshman. The interception led to a Jordan Byrd rushing touchdown to put the Aztecs up, 35-14, early in the third quarter. The interception was one of the keys to a third quarter that saw SDSU outscore Towson, 24-0, and limit the Tigers to just four total yards. In all, Towson had just 13 yards of total offense against San Diego State in the second half. The ½ tackle for loss and pass breakup were also the first of his career.
Opponents have rushed 255 times with only four attempts longer than 20 yards (1.7 pct.).
SDSU’s rushing defense rankings: T-5th in rushing touchdowns allowed (4), 6th in rushing yards allowed per game (92.0) and 8th in rushing yards per attempt (2.89).
Opponent rush average vs. SDSU by quarter: 1st – 3.2; 2nd – 3.1; 3rd – 2.0; 4th – 3.2 – and by half: 1st – 3.2; 2nd – 2.7. n SDSU held six straight opponents to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time in its Division I era (since 1969) before allowing 117 to San Jose State on Oct. 15. The six straight games of holding its opponent under 100 rushing yards was the longest streak in the country at the time.
SDSU opponents have just 45 rushing first downs this season against the Aztecs on 255 rushing attempts and only four touchdowns, the first which came in the first overtime against San Jose State on Oct. 15. The rush came on the 171st rushing attempt against San Diego State this year.
The Aztecs allowed a rushing touchdown with 3:59 left in the fourth quarter the following game (Oct. 23) at Air Force, the first one given up by SDSU this season in regulation. San Diego State had gone 33 quarters without allowing a rushing touchdown until that score dating back to last season.
DE Cameron Thomas leads the team with 32 tackles on rushing plays.
SDSU’s 122 interceptions since the 2014 season are the most in the country, while its 14 interceptions returned for a touchdown ranks in a tie for eighth.
Opponents are averaging 5.55 yards per pass attempt (5th in FBS).
S Trenton Thompson ranks third in FBS in both passes defended (INT + PBU) per game (1.63, 2nd in MW) and total passes defended (13, 2nd in MW), and is tied for third in total pass breakups (11, 2nd in MW). Thompson also is tied for eighth in the MW in interceptions (2, T-46th in FBS) and tied for 10th in interceptions per game (0.25, T-64th in FBS).
CB Tayler Hawkins ranks third in the Mountain West in passes defended per game (INT + PBU) (1.14, T-23rd in FBS), and is tied for fifth in total passes defended (8, T-23rd in FBS), tied for sixth in pass breakups (6, T-51st in FBS), tied for seventh in interceptions per game (0.29, T-46th in FBS) and tied for eighth in interceptions (2, T-46th in FBS).
According to Pro Football Focus, Hawkins owns the seventh-best coverage rating in the country among defensive backs (and No. 1 in the Mountain West) (89.5. min. 200 snaps). Hawkins also has the sixth-lowest pass efficiency in the country when targeted (No. 1 in the Mountain West) (60.87, min. 200 snaps).
S Patrick McMorris ranks in a tie for sixth in the Mountain West in pass breakups (6, T-51st in FBS), and is tied for ninth in both passes defended per game (INT + PBU) (0.88, T-45th in FBS) and passes defended (7, T-45th in FBS).
LB Andrew Aleki ranks in a tie for second in the Mountain West in interceptions returned for a touchdown (1, T-3rd in FBS).
CB Noah Tumblin’s four pass breakups in the opener against New Mexico State are tied for the third most in a game in FBS this season and tied for the fifth most in a game in school history (an Aztec has only recorded games with at least four PBUs 16 times in program history).
Thompson has two games with four total pass deflections, which are tied with Tumblin (among others) for the fifth most in a game this season.
Tumblin leads the Aztecs with 22 tackles on passing plays.
According to Pro Football Focus, DT Jonah Tavai ranks in a tie for second in the Mountain West in hurries (25) and a tie for eighth in total quarterback pressures (sacks/hits/hurries) (40).
According to Pro Football Focus, DE Keshawn Banks ranks in a tie for third in the Mountain West in quarterback hits (9), a tie for eighth in quarterback hurries (22) and a tie for 10th in quarterback pressures (sacks/hits/hurries) (32).
BULLET NOTES – SPECIAL TEAMS
ESPN Efficency ratings rank the San Diego State special teams unit as the sixth best in the nation.
Since the start of the 2015 season, San Diego State has 13 kickoff returns for touchdowns, tied for the most in FBS play over that time. To put that stat into perspective, 23 other teams have played at least 60 games over that span and do not have a single kick return touchdown.
The Aztecs also have five 100-yard kickoff return touchdowns since 2015, tied with Western Michigan for the most in FBS play over that span.
SDSU had a non-offensive touchdown in each of the first four games of the season.
SDSU’s four non-offensive touchdowns are tied for the seventh most in FBS play this season.
For his career, K Matt Araiza ranks fourth at SDSU in field goal percentage (.759) (min. 25 att.) and sixth in field goals (41).
Araiza made a field goal in 17 straight games to begin his career before not attempting one at Nevada on Nov. 21, 2020.
Araiza has multiple field goals in 14 of his 29 career games.
Araiza leads all FBS players in punt average (52.18), punts inside the 20-yard line (27), punt yards per game (332.63) and punt yards (2,661), and is tied for first in PAT percentage (100.00), third in kickoff average (64.95, 1st in MW), fourth in net punt average (45.25, 1st in MW) and punts per game (6.38, 2nd in MW), tied for fourth in total punts (51, 2nd in FBS), 11th in kickoff touchback percentage (83.33, 1st in MW) and tied for 12th in kickoff touchbacks (35, T-1st in MW). Is also third in the league in made PATs (28, T-39th in FBS) and attempted PATs (28, T-45th in FBS), fifth in field goals attempted (14, T-30th in FBS) and field goals attempted per game (1.75, T-30th in FBS), sixth in kickoff yards (2,728, 51st in FBS), kicking points (55, T-55th in FBS) and total kickoffs (42, T-57th in FBS), tied for seventh in field goals made per game (1.12, T-54th in FBS), eighth in points per game (6.88) and total points (55), and ninth in made field goals (9, T-58th in FBS) and field goal percentage (64.29).
Araiza’s 52.18 punt average is the best in FBS history and 1.2 yards longer than Texas A&M’s Braden Mann in 2018 (50.98).
Araiza has the longest punt this season (86 yards), fifth longest (81), the 10th longest (77), the 14th longest (75) and the 19th longest (72).
Araiza already has five career punts of at least 70 yards out of 56 punts, which is two more than Michael Hughes (230 career punts) for the most in school history.
Araiza has five punts this year of at least 70 yards, the most in the country (three are tied for second with two 70-yard punts).
Araiza set a school record with a 56.78 punt average against New Mexico State on Sept. 4 (nine punts for 511 yards), breaking the previous record by almost two yards (Mike Saxon, 54.83 on six punts at Brigham Young on Oct. 22, 1983), and was the second-highest FBS single-game average this season (min. 5 punts) and the third-best mark in league history (min. 5 punts).
Since 1996, an FBS player has had at least nine punts in a game 2,116 times. Araiza’s 56.8 average against New Mexico State is the second-highest average (min. 9 punts) in the last 26 seasons, only trailing a 57.7 average by Wake Forest’s Dom Maggio against Clemson on Nov. 16, 2019.
Araiza had six 50-yard punts (at 39 feet elevation) against New Mexico State, which were one short of the NCAA record of seven (according to NCAA record book), set by Colorado’s Mark Mariscal vs. USC on Sept. 14, 2002 at 5,328 feet elevation in Boulder, Colorado.
Araiza was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 27 for his play against Towson (Sept. 25) when he punted three times for 197 yards and a 65.7 average with two inside the 20-yard line, making both of his field goal attempts (48 and 36 yards) and all six PATs, tying a career high with 12 points, kicking off eight times with six going for touchbacks and logging
solo tackle on one of his kickoffs. In the punting game, where he had a long of 72 yards, Araiza’s 65.7 punt average was the highest in an FBS game since at least 1996 (min. 3 punts), more than a yard ahead the No. 2 player on the list (Florida Atlantic’s Dalton Schomp (64.3) against Old Dominion on Nov. 19, 2016) and almost four yards further than the top MW performer in a game in league history (Colorado State’s Pete Kontodiakos (61.8) against Hawai’i on Oct. 27, 2012). The 65.7 average on three punts easily eclipsed his school-record average of 56.8 against New Mexico State on Sept. 4, 2021, but he didn’t reach the minimum (4 punts) allowed to count for the program record. Off his punts, Towson had an average starting fielding position of its own 13.3-yard line as he ended up with a 59.0 net punt average.
Araiza won the MW Special Teams Player of the Week award again on Oct. 18, when he was arguably the key player in San Diego State’s 19-13 win over defending MW champion San José State in double overtime. Scored seven of SDSU’s 19 points with two field goals and a PAT, including a career-long 53-yard field goal in the second quarter, which is tied for the sixth-longest field goal in program history and tied for the 11th longest in the country this season (T-1st in MW). Also punted seven times for a 52.9 average with a career-long punt of 86 yards, which is the second longest in school history, the longest in a FBS game this season and the fourth longest in MW history. He set a career high with four fair catches off his punts and tied a career high with four punts inside the 20-yard line as the Spartans averaged starting at the 19.7-yard line off his seven punts. Araiza also kicked off three times for a perfect 65.0-yard average with three touchbacks.
Araiza was named the MW Special Teams Player of the Week the following week on Oct. 25 for his play in a 20-14 win at Air Force. Punted five times for a 54.8 yard average and 50.8 net punt average with a long of 81 yards. What’s amazing about his 54.8 yar average is that one of his punts was inside Air Force territory (for 29 yards). If you take away that punt, he averaged 61.3 yards per boot. Matched a then career high with four punts inside the 20-yard line. Had a long of 81 yards, which was the longest in the nation for that week and tied for the fifth-longest punt this season. Also was 2-for-2 in field goal attempts, including a 51-yarder, and 2-for-2 in PATs for eight of SDSU’s 20 points in the game. Also kicked off five times for a perfect 65.0 average with five touchbacks.
Since at least 1996, Araiza has two games with at least an 80-yard punt and a 50-yard field goal. It has only happened one other time in a FBS game (Utah’s Louie Sakoda at Wyoming on Oct. 11, 2008).
Araiza set a school single-season record with 22 field goals in 2019, surpassing John Baron II’s 21 in 2016, and tied for fifth in field goal percentage (84.62).
Among freshmen kickers in the country in 2019, Araiza ranked first in field goals (22), and was third in field goal percentage (84.62) and eighth in points by kickers (94).
Araiza was one of only five kickers in FBS play in 2019 to make at least one field goal in every game (min. 12 games).
KR Jordan Byrd ranks second in program history in kick return average (26.3) and fourth in kick return touchdowns (2).
Byrd ranks seventh among active FBS players in kick return average (26.3, min. 35 KR).
Byrd leads the Mountain West in kick return average (33.09, 2nd in FBS), punt returns (16, T-9th in FBS) and combined kick return
yards (448, T-11th in FBS), and is second in punt return average (5.25, 38th in FBS), tied for second in kick return yards (364, T15th in FBS), sixth in kick returns (11, T-45th in FBS) and seventh in punt return yards (84, 49th in FBS).
Byrd returned a kickoff 100 yards or a touchdown against Utah on Sept. 18 to become the fifth Aztec in program history with a 100-yard kickoff return (has happened eight times overall) and first since Rashaad Penny against Nevada on Nov. 18, 2017.
Byrd’s 63.0 kick return average is the second highest in a FBS game this season (min. 2 KR) and the fourth highest by an Aztec since at least 1996 (min. 2 KR). Byrd now has two of the four-highest kick return averages in a game by an Aztec since at least 1996 (min. 2 KR) (74.0 vs. Colorado State on Dec. 5, 2020 (No. 1) and 63.0 vs. Utah on Sept. 18, 2021 (No. 4)).
Byrd is one of only 13 FBS players with a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown this season.
PR BJ Busbee returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown against Colorado State on Dec. 5, 2020, the first by an Aztec on a nonblocked return since Rashaad Penny on Nov. 18, 2017. Busbee’s 90-yard punt return was the longest by an Aztec since Damon Gourdine’s school-record 98-yard return on Oct. 24, 1998 vs. Utah, the second longest in Mountain West history, the second-longest punt return in FBS play last season and tied for the third longest in program history. Busbee finished with a 29.0 punt return average for the game, which was the second-highest average by an Aztec since at least 1996 (min. 3 PR) and the eighth highest in a FBS game last season (min 3 PR).
Byrd (93-yard kick return) and Busbee (90-yard punt return) helped San Diego State become the first team with a kickoff return and punt return in the same quarter (second) on Dec. 5, 2020 vs. Colorado State since Oct. 31, 2015 vs. Tennessee (third quarter at Kentucky).
SDSU scored two non-offensive touchdowns in the 2020 Colorado State game for the eighth time since 2015.
The Aztecs have returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown three times in the same game in the last 26 seasons (since 1996).
San Diego State’s 267 kickoff/punt return yards in the Colorado State game were the most in a FBS game last season and the most by an Aztec team since at least 1996.
RB Kaegun Williams was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 4 for his play in a 38-14 win at Arizona, when he blocked a punt in the first quarter, which was scooped up by Tyrell Shavers and returned 27 yards for a touchdown, to put the Aztecs up, 21-0, and proved to be the game-winning score. In addition to playing on all four special teams units – kickoff, punt, kick return and punt return – Williams also ran nine times for 42 yards (4.7 avg.) with a long of 23 yards and caught a 13-yard pass.
Trenton Thompson and Tyrell Shavers rank in a tie for fourth in program history in blocked kicks (2).
Shavers has two blocked kicks this year, one off Brad Burton’s school record of three set in 1989.
Shavers is tied for the FBS lead in blocked kicks (2) and is tied for third in punt return touchdowns (1, T-1st in MW).
Thompson is also tied for third in punt return touchdowns (1, T-1st in MW).
Williams is tied for 11th in FBS in blocked kicks (1, T-2nd in MW).
Shavers has returned two blocked punts for touchdowns over his career (also had one at No. 6/5 LSU while with Alabama on Sept. 26, 2020.
Araiza leads the special teams unit with four tackles. He is tied for the team lead in kick return tackles (2) with Mekhi Shaw, and is tied for first in tackles on the punt return unit (2 with Isaiah McElvane, Patrick McMorris and Segun Olubi).
Saturday is the 36th meeting between the schools with SDSU owning a 22-11-2 advantage.
The Aztecs have won seven of the last nine games in the series.
San Diego State snapped a two-game losing streak in the series with a 34-10 victory last season in Carson, California.
The Aztecs have won 16 of the last 20 outings in the series dating back to 1990.
SDSU met Hawai’i 19 straight years from 1980-1998 when the Aztecs were still in the WAC. In WAC play, the Aztecs owned a 12-5-2 record. This marks the 10th consecutive season the teams have met as members of the Mountain West (SDSU has won seven of those nine meetings).
Since 1990, the Aztecs are 16-4 against the Warriors and have outscored them by a 740-369 (37.0-18.5) margin.
San Diego State has won 11 of the last 15 games in the series. In those 11 wins, SDSU has a total of 13 turnovers and owns a plus13 turnover margin. In the four losses, the Aztecs have a total of five turnovers.
The Aztecs have rushed for at least 100 yards in 18 of the last 19 meetings (failed to rush for 100 yards in 2019) with 13 200-yard rushing games during that span.
In the 29 meetings in the Division I era, the average game time temperature is 74.1 degrees.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Saturday’s game will mark UH’s first home game with a maximum capacity crowd of 100% since the start of the pandemic. Two weeks ago, a maximum 1,000 spectators were allowed inside 9,000-seat Clarence T.C. Ching Complex.
The match-up is the 36th meeting between the teams with San Diego State holding a 21-12-2 advantage. The Aztecs have won 16 of the last 20 in the series.
SDSU leads 11-7-2 in games played in Honolulu however UH won the last meeting in 2019, 14-11, which clinched the West Division title.
Hawai‘i’s win in 2018, snapped a six-game losing streak in the series. UH won back-to-back games in the series in 2018 and ’19.
The teams have met every year since 2012 as members of the Mountain West, which the Aztecs have won seven of the nine match-ups.
UH (4-5, 1-3 MW) dropped its fourth road game of the season last week following a 51-31 loss to Utah State in Logan, Utah.
The Aztecs (7-1, 3-1 MW) suffered their first loss and slipped out of the top spot in the West Division after a 30-20 home loss to Fresno State last Saturday. Entering the game, SDSU was ranked No. 21 in Associated Press poll.
UH is 3-1 at home this season with its only loss a 17-13 defeat to San Jose State. SDSU is 3-0 on the road, including back-to-back one-score Mountain West wins at SJSU (2OT) and Air Force.
SDSU’s defense ranks 12th nationally, allowing only 17.5 points and 304.9 yards of total offense per game.
UH has rushed for 200+ yards four times this season, all resulting in wins, including three times at home. Under head coach Todd Graham, the Warriors are 6-0 when eclipsing 200+ rushing yards in a game.
UH has out-scored its opponents 55-10 in the first quarter in its four home games, compared to being out-scored 65-20 in the first quarter on the road.
In the last three games, UH has a combined six touchdowns of 60 yards or longer, including three defensive TDs.
UH quarterback Chevan Cordeiro is 64 rushing yards away from 1,000 in his career. When he reaches that mark, he will become just the third UH signal caller joining Michael Carter and Glenn Freitas to reach that mark.
UH placekicker Matthew Shipley has a streak of 10 straight field goals made and is 11-of-12 on the season. The sophomore connected on a career-long 49 yarder last
week versus Utah State.
LAST MEETING VS. SAN DIEGO STATE
SDSU 34, UH 10 — Nov. 14, 2020
Dignity Health Sports Park; Carson, Calif.
SDSU defeated Hawai‘i for the first time since 2017 and for the seventh time in the last nine meetings.
The Aztecs led 28-0 at halftime.
The Aztecs gained 326 of their 356 yards on the ground, including 160 yards and two touchdowns from Greg Bell, who racked up 120 yards and both TDs in the first half alone.
UH recorded 14 tackles-for-loss, one shy of the school-record 15 in a 2003 win over Alabama.
The 30 passing yards by SDSU was the least allowed by UH since a 2016 win over Air Force.
SDSU parlayed a pair of UH second-quarter turnovers into touchdowns, including a 71-yard interception return late in the half.
HAWAI‘I IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST
Hawai‘i is in its 10th season in the Mountain West and owns a 24-52 (.316) all-time mark — 13-26 at home and 11-26 on the road.
Since the conference moved to two divisions in 2013, UH is 14-24 against the West and 5-17 versus the Mountain.
UH captured a share of the West Division title in 2019 and made its first-ever appearance in the MW Championship game, eventually falling at Boise State.
UH will play three of its four rivalry trophy games this season, having already lost its opportunity to regain the Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy after a 17-13 setback to San José State on Sept. 18.
UH will look to regain the Paniolo Trophy when it meets Wyoming, Nov. 27 in Laramie. UH currently holds possession of the Island Showdown Trophy, which it competes for against UNLV and will meet in Las Vegas, Nov. 13.
Over the last two decades, when UH’s offense generates 500+ yards of total offense, it usually results in a victory.
Since 2000, UH is 72-10 when generating 500+ yards of total offense.
Under coach Todd Graham, UH has reached 500+ yards four times, all resulting in victories. 500+ Yards of Total Offense Under Todd Graham
Date Opponent Yards Result
10/24/20 at Fresno State 552 W, 34-19
11/7/20 New Mexico 503 W, 39-33
12/12/20 UNLV 530 W, 38-21
9/4/21 Portland State 573 W, 49-35
OTHER TEAM NOTES
The late Colt Brennan had his #15 jersey retired on the Oct. 23rd game versus New Mexico State, which commemorated the legacy of UH’s first and only Heisman Trophy finalist. Brennan joins Tommy Kaulukukui (#32) – the school’s first-ever All-American – as the only other player in program history to have his number retired.
UH’s 27-21 win over No. 18 Fresno State snapped a 13-game losing streak against nationally ranked teams that stretched over a decade.
UH dropped its first season opener since 2016. UH had previously won four straight season openers and five in the last six years.
UH’s 34-point loss to UCLA was the largest margin of defeat in a season opener since 2012 at USC (49-10) and its 269 yards of offense was its least in a season opener since 2013 (231 yards vs USC).
UH’s first win at its new home, the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex, was against Portland State which coincidentally was the same opponent for its first win at its old home, Aloha Stadium.
Under head coach Todd Graham, UH is 3-6 in road/neutral site games including a 1-4 mark in MW road games.
UH’s win over Portland State was its 18th consecutive over a FCS opponent dating back to the 2001 season.
UH has won seven consecutive home-openers dating back to 2015.
A total of 16 members of the 2021 team currently hold bachelor degrees.
RUNNING WITH THE ’BOWS
UH’s run and gun offense has heavily relied on the run game this season with an average of 157.7 rushing yards per game.
UH’s per game average is the highest by a Hawai‘i team since 1995 (224.0 ypg), when the team ran the run-oriented triple-option.
UH has rushed for 200+ yards four times this season, all resulting in wins, including three times at home.
In two seasons under head coach Todd Graham, UH is 6-0 when eclipsing the 200+ mark.
Jacksonville transfer Calvin Turner, Jr. is the team’s most versatile athlete and this season has lined up at slot receiver, running back, wildcat quarterback, and returner on kickoffs and punts.
Recognized twice by ESPN — a circuitous 34-yard run in the first quarter against Portland State — ranked No. 1 on ESPN’s Top 10 college football plays of the week and a 14-yard scoring run in a win at New Mexico State — in which we reversed field 20 yards on a jet sweep and eluded numerous would-be tacklers — ranked No. 3 in
ESPN’s Top Plays of the day.
Posted his second 100-yard receiving game this season and third of his career with eight catches for 110 yards and a one TD against Utah State.
Scored three TDs (2 rushing, 1 receiving) against Oregon State, marking the fourth multi-TD game of his UH career and the second time he scored three TDs in a game (also vs. Boise State).
The senior has scored in seven of nine games this season and has a team-leading 10 touchdowns. In his UH career, he has at least one touchdown in 14 of 18 games played.
Leads the team in receptions (52), receiving yards (624), touchdowns, and all-purpose yards (1,167); and third in rushing yards (299).
ONE PARSON PARTY
With starter Dae Dae Hunter nursing an injury, backup running back Dedrick Parson has taken advantage of the opportunity for his two starts against New Mexico State and Utah State.
The Philadelphia, Pa., native rushed 25 times for 161 yards and three TDs against NM State while also leading the team with six receptions for 54 yards for a total of 215 all-purpose yards.
Went over 100 yards receiving (115) for the first time in his UH career against USU and scored his first receiving touchdown with a 29-yard catch from Cordeiro in the second quarter.
Played two seasons for Howard University, where he accumulated 1,553 rushing yards, 409 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns in 20 career games.
BACK IN THE SADDLE
After missing the last three games, Chevan Cordeiro returned as the team’s starting quarterback last week at Utah State.
The Honolulu native finished 23-of-39 for 296 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
This season, has thrown for 1,706 yards and 10 touchdowns and eclipsed 300-yards in a game twice — 366 at Oregon State and 305 versus Portland State.
Cordeiro now has 5,080 career passing yards, which ranks No. 8 all-time in school history and 6,016 career total offense yards, which ranks No. 7 all-time.
Last season he finished with 483 rushing yards and became the first UH quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Michael Carter in 1991.
Eclipsed 200+ passing in 13 of 15 games since the start of 2020.
Brayden Schager started three games at quarterback and is one of just nine true freshmen nationally to start in 2021.
The Dallas, Texas native is 2-1 as the starter with wins in his starting debut over nationally ranked Fresno State and against New Mexico State.
Schager became the fifth straight UH quarterback to win in his starting debut and the second straight freshman (Chevan Cordeiro) to do so.
Finished 11-of-27 for 116 yards and two TDs against Fresno State and was 25-of-29 for 219 yards against NM State.
Against the Aggies, connected on 16 consecutive passes and completed 86.2% of his attempts, not far off from the school record for completion percentage (minimum 20 attempts) held by Sean Schroeder (87.9%, 29-of-33, at Navy, 2013).
ALL DAE (DAE)
Prior to his injury which forced him to miss the last two games, running back Dae Dae Hunter was
big part of the UH offense.
The Denver, Colo., native is the team’s leading rusher (558 yards, 78 carries) and has 16 receptions for 144 yards.
In a loss to Nevada, Hunter had scoring runs of 75- and 81-yards and totaled 174 yards on eight carries in the first half before leaving the game due to injury.
Eclipsed 100-yards twice at home this season, rushing 16 times for 128 yards and one TD against Portland State and a career-high 21 rushes for 127 yards against Fresno State.
Career-high 83 yards receiving against Oregon State, which included three catches of 20+ yards, and career-high seven receptions at UCLA.
Has four catches of 20+ yards on the season including a career long 30-yard reception against San Jose State.
IN THE NICK OF TIME
Junior wideout Nick Mardner has become the team’s deep ball threat with a team-leading 18.6 yards per reception.
The Mississauga, Ontario native is second on the team in both receiving yards (614) and receptions (33) and is tied for the team-lead with three receiving touchdowns.
Led the team in receiving yards in four games this season including a pair of 100-yard outings.
Had 120 yards and a TD on four catches against New Mexico State, including a career-long 74-yard reception, and had 110 yards on six catches and a TD against Oregon State.
The offensive line is one of the most experienced in the country with a combined 151 starts.
Ilm Manning and Gene Pryor anchor the all-important tackle positions. Manning has started 43 of 45 career games and earned all-Mountain West second-team honors in 2019. Pryor meanwhile has been a stalwart at right tackle, starting all but two games since 2019 with 31 career starts. 4Solo Vaipulu is in his fourth year with the program and has the second-most career starts (36). Kohl Levao, who missed virtually all of the last two seasons, has started 27 games at center, guard and tackle and is one of the team’s top pro prospects. Micah Vanterpool has started all nine games this season at left guard and has 14 career starts.
OTHER OFFENSE NOTES
Dae Dae Hunter’s 174 yards against Nevada were the most since Diocemy Saint Juste had 202 versus San Jose State in 2017 while his 81-yard TD run was the longest since Paul Harris’ school record 95-yarder vs. UC Davis in 2015.
UH committed five turnovers in a loss at Nevada which were the most by Hawai‘i under Todd Graham and the most since the 2019 season opener vs. Arizona (6 TOs).
UH had two players go over 100 yards receiving in a game twice this season against Oregon State (Calvin Turner, Jr. & Nick Mardner) and Utah State (Turner & Dedrick Parson).
UH has had 10 or more receivers catch a ball in a single game twice this season — 11 at Nevada and 10 at UCLA.
Senior receiver Jared Smart did not catch a pass against Fresno State, which snapped a 29-game streak dating back to 2019.
UH leads the Mountain West and is tied for fourth nationally with 20 takeaways. Middle Tennessee is the nation’s leader with 25.
Hawai‘i also has a conference-high 10 interceptions and is tied with Fresno State with 10 fumbles recovered, which is tied for third nationally.
UH’s six turnovers forced against Fresno State were the most in a game since 2011.
UH has forced multiple turnovers in six of nine games this year.
UH has four defensive touchdowns this season including two pick-sixes against New Mexico State. The last time that happened was in 2007 at Idaho.
Khoury Bethley’s 79-yard return in the second quarter against NM State was tied for the eighth longest in school history.
LEADER OF THE PACK
No one can question the productivity of Khoury Bethley who has been a mainstay in the defensive line-up throughout his career and is having his best \season as a Rainbow Warrior in 2021.
The Chino, Calif., native has three interceptions, including his first for a touchdown against New Mexico State with a 79-yard return.
In UH’s upset win over Fresno State, he tallied nine tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble and earned two national player of the week awards (Nagurski and Jim Thorpe) and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The senior posted strip sacks in back-to-back weeks against New Mexico State and Fresno State, the latter led to UH’s game-winning field goal.
Ranks second on the team with 66 tackles along with three sacks, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
Has accumulated 258 tackles, 18.0 tackles-for-loss, six sacks, five interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 21 passes defended in 47 career games.
Shined in UH’s last two bowl wins with single-game highs in tackles (14), tackles-for-loss (3) and sacks (2) against Houston in last season’s New
Mexico Bowl win over Houston and picked off two passes against BYU in the 2019 Hawai‘i Bowl that later earned him AP All-Bowl team honors.
A TACKLING MACHINE
Darius Muasau, a preseason All-Mountain West first team selection, is once again the team leader in tackles.
The Mililani, O‘ahu native has a team-best 72 tackles, along with 7.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks, two pass break-ups, one interception, one forced fumble, and three quarterback hurries.
Recorded his first interception of the season against New Mexico State and returned it 75 yards for his first career touchdown.
Five games with 10+ tackles this season — Utah State (16), @ New Mexico State (11), UCLA (11), Nevada (10), and New Mexico State (10).
Named to the watch lists for both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards which are presented to the nation’s top defensive player.
Last season Muasau led all of FBS with 68 solo tackles and ranked seventh with 104 total tackles. Ranked fifth nationally in tackles per game (11.8) while also leading the team in team in tackles-for-loss (9.5) sacks (4.5), and quarterback hurries (7).
Cornerback Cortez Davis enters his third season as the Warriors’ shutdown corner.
The Decatur, Ga., native leads the nation with 14 pass break-ups and ranks second with 15 passes defended.
Has started 29 of 31 career games.
After earning all-conference accolades in each of his first two years, is on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which annually recognizes college football’s outstanding defensive back.
Intercepted his first pass of the season and the second of his career with a second-quarter pick of Fresno State’s Jake Haener.
OTHER DEFENSE NOTES
UH’s six turnovers forced (4-INT, 2-FR) against Fresno State were the most in a game since a 2011 road loss at San Jose State.
The Warriors recorded a season-high four sacks in a road win at New Mexico State.
Hugh Nelson II sealed the game with an interception – his second of the season – on the Bulldogs’ final possession.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
Matthew Shipley has excelled at handling both placekicking and punting duties this season.
The Liberty Hill, Texas native has converted 10 consecutive field goal attempts since his only miss (48-yarder vs. San Jose State) and is 11-of-12 on the year. He is also 30-of-30 in PAT attempts.
Booted the game-winning 33-yard field goal against Fresno State and set a career-long 49-yarder last week at Utah State. Also connected on a 48-yarder at UCLA in the 2021 season opener.
In his first year as the primary punter, the sophomore is averaging 42.1 yards per punt with a long of 53. Also has four 50+-yard punts and pinned eight inside the 20.
Freshman Kyler Halvorsen has been the primary kickoff specialist this season and has 26 touchbacks in 49 kickoffs.
Of his 49 kickoffs, 26 were touchbacks, five were fair-caught, two went out of bounds, and 16 were returned.
Senior long snapper Wyatt Tucker has been a mainstay on special teams or the Warriors, having started all 33 games played.
The Chino Hills, Calif., did not record a “bad” snap through his first two UH seasons until a low snap against UCLA caused punter Matthew Shipley to inadvertently take a knee.
OTHER SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
After going a nation-leading 154 straight games without a blocked punt, UH has allowed three blocked punts this season against UCLA, San Jose State, and Nevada.
UCLA returned its blocked punt for a touchdown, marking the first time since 2004, UH allowed an opponent to do so.