San Diego State’s footballing win in the Mountain West Conference championship game Saturday marked the 53rd victory in Rocky Long’s six years as head coach of the Aztecs.
Was it his best one yet?
Since we are a society that obsessed with ranking/arguing about anything and everything (and since we are a dumb blog grasping for ideas on a bye week before a bowl game) I decided to put together an Elite 8 tournament of best wins of the Rocky Long era.
The selected eight games and seedings are mine, but the choice is now yours. Come back repeatedly over the next three days to see which games advance and vote for your favorites. This is pointless as hell, but hey, so are (most, per Rocky) bowl games! And college football! And life in general! At the very least, this is an opportunity to re-live some warm memories and watch some nice videos.
The first round starts … now.
BOISE STATE PART I (1) vs. BEARCAT BEATDOWN (8)
BOISE STATE PART I
Nov. 3, 2012
Argument for: It was Boise State’s second year in the MWC and they were already strutting around like they owned the place. And with TCU, BYU and Utah gone, it was hard to argue. Nobody beat them on their Otter Pop stain of a field, particularly not a California team in the cold. But the Aztecs did, and because of it they eventually secured their first ever MWC title (in a gross three-way with Fresno State and Boise, but still). Colin Lockett set the tone by running back the opening kickoff, which at the time was a super rare thing that we thought never, ever happens.
Argument against: Adam Muema highlights always get me a little bummed.
Dec. 24, 2015
Argument for: The 2015 Hawai’i Bowl was only SDSU’s third bowl win since 1969 (nice mediocrity!). It came on Christmas Eve on ESPN against a Cincinnati team that, while in the Group of Five, people have at least heard of. Also, this was thorough domination for 60 minutes, making us wonder what might have been had the Big East gambit not imploded. Rashaad Penny set the tone by running back the opening kickoff because we do that all the time LOL.
Argument against: It was literally the Hawai’i Bowl and there were literally 173 people in the stands. Literally! OK not literally but the alleged 22,793 at Aloha Stadium was only if you counted flower leis as humans.
2015 MWC TITLE GAME (2) vs. HILLMAN BREAKS THE CURSE (7)
2015 MWC TITLE GAME
Dec. 5, 2015
Argument for: The Aztecs had never before played in a conference championship game, let alone hosted one. They even rolled out a damn stage to present the trophy in front of the SDSU faithful. That’s big time! Also, this was an excellent game; a back-and-forth thriller full of memorable plays and decided by a late clutch field goal by Donny Hageman. It may be hard to remember now, during the reign of Lord J. Baron II, but there was a time when losing big games on missed field goals was kind of our thing.
Argument against: The crowd at the Q barely eclipsed 20,000, making it feel like something less than a big game (though the fans that were there were very much into it). Also, Air Force ain’t exactly Boise. Also, the reward was the Hawai’i Bowl (see above).
HILLMAN BREAKS THE CURSE
Sept. 17, 2011
Argument for: I’m not going to look up the exact stat, but before this game I believe the Aztecs hadn’t beaten a power conference team in 139 tries dating back to 1897. Before a massive SkyShow crowd, proto-Pumphrey running back Ronnie Hillman scored four damn touchdowns to break the curse and get Rocky’s SDSU career off to a 3-0 start.
Argument against: Washington State was pretty bad back in those days and the Aztecs were humbled by Brady Hoke in Ann Arbor the following week. So the bloom came off the rose pretty fast.
2016 MWC TITLE GAME (3) vs. SCARED MONEY DON’T MAKE NO MONEY (6)
2016 MWC TITLE GAME
Dec. 3, 2016
Argument for: It was fucking awesome. Read our recap.
Argument against: I gave 2015 a slight nod over this one because that title game was a first for us. Also, the dashed Cotton Bowl dreams and the two shitburger losses that preceded Saturday’s contest might have dampened the enthusiasm.
SCARED MONEY DON’T MAKE NO MONEY
Oct. 20, 2012
Argument for: If you’re an Aztec Football hipster, this game is your jam – your Bleach to everyone else’s Nevermind. At the time, the Aztecs were seemingly going nowhere and when starting quarterback Ryan Katz left the contest with a season-ending injury, things looked grim. But Adam Dingwell led a remarkable comeback, spurring SDSU’s eventual title run. Bonus point for Rocky’s big balls, going for two in overtime. Even more bonus points for Dingwell’s hilarious postgame interview.
Argument against: It was a midseason MWC game against Nevada, so seeding it any higher would have been kinda sad.
TAKE THAT, OSKI (4) vs. BOISE STATE PART II (5)
TAKE THAT, OSKI
Sept. 10, 2016
Argument for: The Aztecs beat Cal 45-40 at home in front of a huge crowd as D.J. Pumphrey went berserk for 281 yards. Damontae Kazee’s interception to stave off the Aztec-ian gag is an indelible moment. The game also featured a housed kickoff and a pick six. My god, this game.
Argument against: Cal ended up being not so great. Plus, we were all thinking dream season and Cotton Bowl after this victory. The Aztecs are, last I checked, not in the Cotton Bowl.
BOISE STATE PART II
Nov. 23, 2013
Argument for: Remember, nobody beats Boise State. And surely nobody beats them two years in a row, right? Well, SDSU did in 2013, beating the Broncos in an overtime thriller at the Q that was a very bright spot to an otherwise lost season. The J.J. Whittaker pick-six, Tim Vizzi’s punt return and the clinching Quinn Kaehler to Lockett pass were memorable as hell. Also, I must reiterate: LOL BOISE.
Argument against: This win got us into the Potato Bowl, basically, so … yeah … vote accordingly.