By Charles Jay
It’s been a frustrating experience for Rocky Long to see that the spread offense he’s installed with the San Diego State Aztecs has never really gotten uncorked. And even with 323 yards through the air, it was not exactly a coming-out party for Ryan Agnew and his teammates from a scoring perspective. So it could be a dilemma for these guys as they venture out to the island of Oahu for this weekend’s Mountain West action.
The opposition is provided by the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, who know how to put points on the board with one of the nation’s most potent passing attacks. What can SDSU do to slow them down? We’ll see, as the game kicks off at 11 PM ET at Aloha Stadium.
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Two weeks ago, SDSU did the unthinkable, in that they lost a 21-10 decision to Nevada, a team that, like them, was struggling on offense. What made it more painful was that they had been #25 in the country at the time. But as the Aztecs rebounded last week with a 17-7 win over Fresno State, they are still 25th in the Coaches’ poll.
There is no question that San Diego State is one of the best in the nation at stopping the run, as they have allowed 2.4 yards a carry and 66 yards a game. But here’s the problem with all that – for Hawaii’s offense, that is a secondary consideration. The ‘Bows run the ball only 39% of the time, which makes them 127th out of 130 teams in terms of running play frequency.
Hawaii ranks fourth nationally in passing offense. But with that kind of thing comes risk, as they gave operated with a minus-14 turnover margin. In a sense, that would seem to fit just right with what the Aztecs want to do, as SDSU is at +11 in turnovers, having committed just seven.
Here are the college football lines for this game, as they are posted with reduced juice at BetAnySports:
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors -1 (-102)
San Diego State Aztecs +1 (-112)
Over 46 points (-105)
Under 46 points (-105)
You know, you would have to look outside of the top 100 to see how Hawaii is doing when it comes to handling opposition ground attacks, and from one angle, they are the fourth-worst team out there, because they are yielding a bloated 5.7 yards per rushing attempt. Is it any wonder that only a handful of teams have allowed more first downs?
And this brings us to our point about this game. SDSU may not run the football with all the success in the world, but they make the attempt, as they call running plays 57.2% of the time. Between this group of RB’s (Juwan Washington, Chase Jasmin, Chance Bell et al), there haven’t been a lot of holes opened up by this offensive line. But Hawaii’s soft front might make them all better in a hurry.
The ‘Bows can actually earn themselves a berth in the MWC titla game with a victory. But they have to control the ball a lot better. San Diego State is 31-1 in the last 32 games in which they’ve had a turnover edge, and they are likely to have that advantage here, based on this season’s performance. That puts them in pretty good shape as an underdog. We’ll take the points in our play for WagerWAR, which is powered by the good folks at PPHVIP.
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