All the elements of a classic trap game were in place. A road game. An opponent that was probably better than its record showed. Elevation (4,534′). A driving rainstorm. A lethargic start and an early deficit.
Admit it, you where worried about this game when Utah State scored on its first drive. Hell I was worried about this game when I woke up this morning.
Yet here we are hours later, basking in the most complete display of San Diego State dominance since … what … last year’s Hawaii Bowl? The Aztecs hammered Utah State 40-13 on Friday night, and they did so despite the hostile crowd of grizzled survivalists in the stands. Despite the elevation (4,534′). Despite the fact that the game was being played in a damn pineapple under the sea.
The following are areas in which SDSU excelled in this game:
- Special teams
- Hard AF nonagenarians
That’s pretty much all of them. All of the areas.
If we’ve got to drill down somewhere, I guess rushing for 400 yards is a good enough place as any to start. Tonight the Aztecs showed exactly why we don’t necessarily need to fear a date in Boise in early December. SDSU is a foul weather team that happens to play half its games in the most temperate climate on earth.
Rain coming down in buckets? Hell yes! Rocky Long and Jeff Horton are more than happy to hand it off on every play and bulldoze you into the waterlogged field turf.
Hell, they’ll even do it with their third-string running back. #YOLO
Juwan Washington, a 5-foot-7 freshman who is basically the Muppet Babies version of D.J. Pumphrey, did that one play after Rashaad Penny hobbled off with an injury (he would later return, so no worries). Washington, who has shown flashes of playmaking ability in previous games, tallied a career-best 137 yards and two scores, hinting very strongly that life will go on once D.J. is playing on Sundays.
Fortunately for them and us, D.J. is still playing on Saturdays and the occasional Friday. Tonight was his fourth 200-yard rushing performance of the season, tying Marshall Faulk’s school record. He had 150 yards at the half, and might have had 200-plus at intermission were it not for a couple of slips on slick turf. He finished with 223 moving into sixth place in NCAA history with 5,741 yards.
Numbers aside, Pumphrey also added what’s probably a top-10 run in his SDSU highlight reel.
If there is any downside to Pumphrey’ astounding season (note: there is absolutely no downside to Pumphrey’s astounding season), it’s that the defense’s excellent play so far in conference has been getting criminally overshadowed.
SDSU has allowed three offensive touchdowns in four MWC games. Chaos has returned to the opposing pocket and defenders are swarming to ballcarriers and receivers. They’re also making playing in the 3-3-5 look fun, playing with high energy and jumping around like goofy idiots after big plays.
And, hey, the back-breaking turnovers have returned as well!
Utah State gained 252 total yards, with 161 on their two scoring drives. In between those two drives, SDSU put up 40 points.
We’ve heaped praise on John Baron II in this space before but tonight was something else. He tied a school record with four field goals, including two from 40-plus in a downpour. This is college football. This is San Diego State. You’re aware this isn’t normal, right? I suppose neither is a rocket-legged punter like Tanner Blain or a kick coverage unit that trucks fools at the 15 all night, but here we are.
It’s pretty weird that special teams played a starring role in the Aztecs one loss this season, because the Aztecs’ special teams is kind of bomb-ass.
SDSU is now 7-1 (4-0 MWC) and have won 15 straight in conference. A win over Hawai’i on homecoming probably makes the West Division title a formality. The New Years Six, thanks to Navy’s loss, is something we can once again daydream about while staring blankly at spreadsheets when we return to our cubicles on Monday.
It’s going to be so great, you guys.