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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 10:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Qualcomm Stadium (54.000) -- San Diego, California. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: BSU 5-0, SDSU 2-3. Away Record: BSU 2-3, SDSU 3-1. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, SDSU 0-0. Conference Record: BSU 5-1, SDSU 5-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Mountain West Conference programs with matching league records get together at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday night, as the San Diego State Aztecs host the Boise State Broncos.
The Aztecs, sitting in second place in the West Division of the MWC standings with a record of 5-1, have put together a three-game win streak and have captured six victories in the last seven outings, after starting the campaign with three consecutive defeats. The last win for SDSU took place in Honolulu last weekend, a 28-21 overtime affair versus the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
With the triumph, the Aztecs made themselves bowl eligible, one of four teams in the MWC with that status entering the week.
Boise State is one of those other teams eyeing the postseason, even though this is still a campaign that doesn't quite live up to the lofty expectations made possible by previous years. Nevertheless, the Broncos enter the week tied with Utah State for the top spot in the Mountain Division with a league mark of 5-1 after whipping up on Wyoming last weekend, 48-7.
The Broncos, who will close out the regular season against New Mexico at home at the end of the month, have won two straight and five of the last six outings.
The series between the teams is tied at one game apiece following a surprising 21-19 victory by the Aztecs last season.
The Broncos gave up a touchdown to Wyoming less than four minutes into the first quarter last Saturday, but from there the Cowboys were never heard from again as BSU posted the resounding victory at home. Quarterback Grant Hedrick converted 27-of-36 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, each of those scores going to Matt Miller who had seven catches for 143 yards. On the ground it was Jay Ajayi with his 11 carries for 70 yards and another three TDs for the hosts in the triumph.
Wyoming, the third BSU opponent to be held to single-digit scoring, managed just 265 yards of offense as Demarcus Lawrence posted seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble for the Broncos.
Even though he has appeared in only nine games, Lawrence is second on the unit with 56 tackles and leads the way with 15.0 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. Because of the efforts of Lawrence and his defensive mates, the Broncos are allowing 23.4 ppg this season which is tied for 35th nationally.
While he has had some issues with maintaining possession of the ball, Ajayi is still a key element to the offense with his 1,078 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. As a team, the Broncos have generated 29 TDs and 215.5 ypg on the ground.
Subbing in for an injured Joe Southwick, Hedrick has nearly the same level of accuracy (71.1 percent) and has tossed almost as many touchdowns (10), even though he has attempted 64 fewer passes. Whether it is Hedrick or Southwick, the primary targets down the field have remained the same in Shane Williams- Rhodes and Matt Miller who have combined for 131 catches and 12 touchdowns.
The Aztecs have now played in six straight games that have been decided by seven points or less, the longest active streak in the country, and that happened to work in their favor last weekend as they slipped by Hawaii in overtime as Aloha Stadium. Once again Adam Muema was a key figure for San Diego State as he ran for a game-high 163 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime, while Donnel Pumphrey carried the ball 10 times for another 61 yards and a TD as well. Quarterback Quinn Kaehler converted half of his 34 passes for 265 yards and a TD to Colin Lockett who caught four balls for a game-high 106 yards.
Lockett, second on the team in receptions with 39, has compiled 537 yards but has landed in the end zone just three times. It's the same story for Ezell Ruffin who has a team-best 54 grabs for 947 yards as he too has only three scores to his credit.
While Kaehler has been a focused game manager with 61.2 percent accuracy, an average of 252.1 ypg and a total of 14 touchdowns, this is an offense that operates at its peak when Muema and Pumphrey have the ball in their hands. The duo has combined for close to 1,600 rushing yards and 18 of the unit's 25 touchdowns on the ground.
Unfortunately for the Aztecs, the defense has had trouble slowing down the competition this season, to the point where the pass defense ranks 107th in the country with 264.4 ypg. What's worse is the fact that a Rocky Long coached team has a mere four interceptions in 10 games, a stat that factors in to why the squad is tied for 114th nationally with a turnover margin of minus-0.9 per game.
Don't think for one minute that the Broncos have forgotten what happened to them last year when they matched up against San Diego State. Payback can be a huge motivator and you better believe Boise State will funnel all of that energy into a win this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 35, San Diego State 23
11/20 10:39:11 ET
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