Oct. 21, 2010
Lobo Football vs. San Diego State
When/Where: 8 p.m. Saturday -- University Stadium
Radio: 770 KKOB-AM, Lobo Radio Network - Pre-game Show at 5 p.m.
TV: The Mtn (Comcast 276, DirecTV 616)
GoLobos.com: Game Tracker / Game Stat / Stats
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When the San Diego State Aztecs step into University Stadium on Saturday, there really isn't a question as to what the Lobos need to worry about.
They need to worry about everything.
The SDSU Aztecs are loaded. They have a quarterback. They have a running back. They have that in-your-face Rocky Long defense.
They also are on a roll and easily could be coming to town with a 6-0 mark rather than a 4-2 mark that includes a 27-25 beat down of No. 23 Air Force. That win was impressive and much needed for an Aztec team that lost at Brigham Young in a game that included a controversial no-call when booth officials decided not to rule a Cougar had fumbled prior to his knee touching turf.
The Aztecs did the only thing they really could do. They put that loss in their rear view mirror and looked ahead to Air Force with intense passion and purpose. The Aztecs might not be as fired up for the 0-6 Lobos, but its still a game the Aztecs need if they expect to make a run for the Mountain West title. SDSU is only 1-1 in league wars.
The Aztecs might not be on the same level as TCU and Utah, but it would be a huge step for this program to finish in the top three of the MWC and dash off looking for postseason glory.
Hey, maybe The Rock will return to the New Mexico Bowl?
For sure, the all-time winningest (and losing-est) coach will return to University Stadium on Saturday wearing the SDSU colors and sending his hoard of defensive marauders at whatever quarterback UNM finally assigns to the pocket.
The Aztecs' defense is good, aggressive and unpredictable. It alone is a handful for UNM's preparation.
But the Aztecs also are loaded on offense and it's not just a hot quarterback or a hot running back that the Lobos have to deal with. It's both!
San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman not only arguably the best freshman running back in the nation, he is one of the best running backs period. He posted his third 100-yard rushing day of the season -- and his career -- against Air Force when the Aztecs claimed the school's sixth victory ever over a Top 25 foe.
Hillman was a speedster. Hillman was a horse. He galloped through the Falcons' defense for 191 yards on 24 carries. He had 228 yards at Missouri including scampers of 93 and 75 yards. He hit the holes fast and then gets faster.
Hillman surely will be a key player in the game plan the Aztecs' plan to throw at the Lobos.
UNM gives up 444.3 yards per game with 203.8 of those coming on the ground. Hillman, who scored on runs of 65 and 44 yards vs. Air Force, might be looking at the Lobo end zone as a vulnerable target. UNM yields an average of 46.5 points per game.
The bad news for UNM and anyone else who has to face the Aztecs' offense is that Hillman probably isn't the most talented Aztec in the huddle. SDSU boasts one of the top arms in the nation in Ryan Lindley.
The junior has thrown only four interceptions in six games and has three 300-yard passing games this season. SDSU is ranked No. 23 nationally in passing offense with a 275.1-yard per game average and is No. 2 in yards per completion at 15.1.
OK, enough about the Aztecs' scary, double-threat offense. Back to Long's scary, in-your-face defense.
This is the second season the Aztec defense has been using Long's 3-3-5 attack and the Aztecs seem to be catching on. They seem to like it. The most points SDSU has given up this season was 27 in a loss at Missouri. The Aztecs pitched a shutout in a 47-0 win over Nichols State and beat down Utah State 41-7.
The 25 points given up to Air Force was actually an impressive number. The Falcons came into the game with the No. 1 ranked rushing offense in D-I ball. Air Force managed to roll out 312 yards rushing, but had only three runs for more than 15 yards. Long's defense bent a bit, but didn't break much. Aztec Andrew Preston had nine solo grabs and 10 total tackles vs. the Falcons.
San Diego State is 19th in the nation in scoring defense and that defense is looking to do its part in snapping a four-game Aztecs' losing streak in Albuquerque. The Aztecs have been outscored 145-38 during that four-game skid.
If the Aztecs plan to challenge for the MWC title in 2010, they need to flip around the numbers on the University Stadium scoreboard.