We’ll get the negativity out of the way first.
San Diego State will not three-peat as Mountain West Conference Champions. That was solidified earlier Saturday afternoon when Fresno State edged past a Josh Allen-less Wyoming to win the West Division. Thanks for nothing, Josh Allen. What did we ever do to you?
Ah yes, that’s right.
Elsewhere Saturday, an unexpected win by Kansas State may have muddied SDSU’s path to a Cactus Bowl bid, and thus its larger hopes of playing a name opponent at a non-garbage destination. It was a disheartening day.
Until it wasn’t.
We just may have witnessed the signature game of Rashaad Penny’s college career and, at the risk of committing recency bias, perhaps the most impressive individual performance by any Aztec football player since Marshall Faulk went bonkers on Pacific.
Penny’s numbers in SDSU’s 42-23 victory over lowly Nevada are pretty bonkers in their own right. 222 yards and two touchdowns rushing. A punt return for a touchdown. A kickoff return for a touchdown that tied an FBS career record. 429 all-purpose yards, breaking Faulk’s school record.
Oh yeah, he also had another 70-yard touchdown run erased by a penalty.
I’m now going to get my stupid words out of the way and show you how it all went down. With the Aztecs reeling down 10-0, here’s how Penny responded when a halfback pass play went to shit (also enjoy the opening act of Kahale Kuio Kalani Michael Wodehouse Warring).
Four plays later, Penny did this.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Wolf Pack made things interesting by clawing back to within 28-23 after a fourth-down touchdown pass. Penny was not having this “close game” bullshit.
Then there was this last one, which was just rude and mean and wonderful.
Penny’s performance vaulted him past Stanford’s Bryce Love into the FBS rushing lead with 1,824 yards. He now has a 101 yard cushion on Love, with New Mexico and probably another crappy Group of Five defense left to play.
The monster game from Penny was also an important reminder to San Diego that, despite the bitter disappointment of October, we are still watching a season we will never forget. The season SDSU beat Arizona State and Stanford. The season Rashaad Penny went absolutely apeshit.
It’s no Fiesta Bowl or conference crown, I’ll grant you. But you’d have to be a spoiled twit not to step back and appreciate this at least a little bit.
It would be a shame to lose sight of Christian Chapman’s role in helping the Aztecs climb out of the early 10-0 hole. He had some big throws, including the strike to Warring that set up the first Penny TD, a TD to Mikah Holder to give the Aztecs a 21-17 lead and later a long pass to Holder to set up a Juwan Washington touchdown run.
What do you have to say about your performance, Christian?
Throughout San Diego tonight, Nevada wide receivers are probably still running around wide open. Please look both ways before you cross the street. You never know when Brandan O’Leary-Orange or Wyatt Demps might come whizzing past with 10 steps on a helpless defender. Stay safe, folks.
With a win over the Lobos on Friday, SDSU will clinch a double-digit win season for the third straight year — something that has never happened before in program history. And yet, even if that happens, there will be people who will insist on calling this season a disappointment. Back away from such people slowly. They are not to be trusted.