On Saturday September 23, the San Diego State Aztecs take on the Air Force Falcons in the first conference game of the season for SDSU.
The Aztecs are riding high, after last week’s game in which they defeated their second PAC-12 opponent in a row.
However, they better be careful not to overlook the Falcons.
In this week’s piece we will focus on what the Aztecs need to do on both sides of the ball in order to get out of Falcon Stadium with a victory.
1.- Match their physicality
Last week Air Force traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play the mighty Wolverines in a game that was expected to be a blowout. The Falcons entered the game as a 22 point underdog. But thanks to their physical style of play and smash mouth approach, Air Force gave Michigan a heck of a game for 2 1/2 quarters. SDSU better be ready to compete in the trenches or Air Force could bring an end to this promising season rather quickly.
2.- Win the turnover battle
In my mind this will be much like the Stanford game last Saturday. A low scoring game. So in my opinion, the Aztecs will need to create turnovers early in order to kill whatever momentum Air Force has coming off their solid effort in Ann Arbor. Nothing kills a football team as much as turnovers, so look for MW defensive player of the week Kameron Kelly to try to be extra aggressive on Saturday.
1.- Score touchdowns in the Red Zone
One of the truly impressive things about Air Force’s performance last Saturday, was the fact that they held Michigan 0/4 when it came to scoring touchdowns inside the 20. That stat should tell you all you need to know about this weeks opponent. They went to one of the most historic places in college football and held Michigan’s offense without a touchdown for the first half. It’s very important for the Aztecs to get creative once they get inside the Falcons 20. Maybe try to spread the field or get Christian Chapman on roll outs. However they do it, they must make their drives count.
2.- Rashaad Penny vs Steve Russ
When the season started there were only a couple of people who thought that Rashaad Penny would carry the offensive load as well as DJ Pumphrey did last season. Three games in, and even the national writers have him in the top five when it comes to Heismann hopefuls. But this week, he will face what I think will be his hardest test of the year. Air Force DC coordinator Steve Russ is one of the hottest names in college football. Some pundits even say that he will be a big time head coach in the near future. I think Russ will try to load up the box and force Christian Chapman to beat him deep. I don’t think Chapman is there yet so, in my mind, the game will come down to Penny. If he breaks the 100 yard mark, I think the Aztecs win this tough game on the road.
This is a potential letdown game for the Aztecs. How often do you see a team win their biggest game of the year just to see them lay an egg the next week? I put the Aztecs on upset alert. I think SDSU will trail for much of the game, but will find a way to snatch a late victory from the jaws of the defeat. I’ll take the Aztecs in a really close game 17-16