It’s getting to the point where we need to remind ourselves not to become numb to this.
Less than two years ago, in the wake of the Aztecs’ 2016 Mountain West Conference Championship Game victory, I spent a week leading up to the bowl game running a silly bracket-style tournament of the best wins of the Rocky Long era (hooray, content!). Have a look at the eight games I chose. The winner of the tournament as selected by you, the fans, was — I shit you not — a regular season win over Nevada.
In the 22 months since, we’ve been thoroughly spoiled with the following:
- A bowl victory over Group of Five darling Houston in which D.J. Pumphrey broke the NCAA rushing record.
- A win on the road at Arizona State in Rashaad Penny’s national coming out party.
- The Stanford blackout.
- ANOTHER win over the Sun Devils, who were ranked this time.
And now this.
A win on The Blue. As a two touchdown dog. With the Aztecs’ starting quarterback, running back and fullback all out with injuries.
THIS IS NOT NORMAL PEOPLE!
Except, maybe it kind of is now?
SDSU’s 19-13 win Saturday over RV/No. 24 Boise State didn’t deliver the same kind of lasting lore as the Stanford game, what with a damn lighting SNAFU on the game-winning drive and delirious students rushing the field. But it may have been a more significant indicator that Rocky’s Aztecs aren’t just a good team at the moment — they’re a good program that’s here to stay.
We know the Aztecs didn’t come in healthy. And they sure didn’t play a perfect game (in two phases they were actually quite bad today!). But they still managed to look a bully in the face and win a big game on their own terms — with nasty-ass defense and nasty-ass defense alone.
Think about the backdrop against which the SDSU defense did what it did today.
Consider that the offense wasn’t coming to the rescue. The unit amassed nine first downs, a number so low Associated Press style doesn’t even allow me to use a damn numeral. Ryan Agnew passed for only 113 yards while running for his life much of the game. It seemed Chase Jasmin (26 carries for 78 yards) constantly needed to elude three tacklers just to gain two yards. And the penalties were … let’s just acknowledge that there were some penalties and leave it at that, OK?
Consider that special teams handed Boise State an early 7-3 lead when Ethan Dedeaux muffed a punt at the 4.
Consider that Brett Rypien was supposed to carve up SDSU’s weak link secondary. One of the best QBs on the west coast, Rypien entered the game completing 70 percent of his passes with 12 TDs and zero picks. How would he do against a secondary that had given up long touchdown passes to literally every opponent this season?
Not great, it turns out!
Rypien was picked off twice, sacked four times and basically rattled so bad that even the throws he could get off were off the mark. Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin even pulled Rypien for fleet-footed Chase Cord on a key drive in the fourth quarter just to make something — anything — happen.
Friends, I am pleased to inform you that anything did not happen.
In all, the Broncos gained 229 yards. They gained 818 against UConn! That’s UConn from the vaunted #Power6, folks,,,,
Bolstered by the return of tackle Noble Hall, the resurgent Aztecs defense turned back the Broncos again and again. And in the fourth quarter, their efforts were finally rewarded as freshman running back Jordan Byrd found the corner on a sweep and turned on the afterburners for a 72-yard score that put the writing on the wall.
I could say more, but … . Oh hell, just watch this. Watch it all.
Now watch it again.
I was in the car driving windy mountain roads during the first half, but as best I can piece together, the Aztecs probably don’t win this game without a pair of first half interceptions.
The first was by freshman cornerback Darren Hall (also 9 tackles and a sack), valiant hero of the Eastern Michigan overtime, who stepped in front of a Rypien pass to set up a John Baron III field goal.
The second — and our true turning point — was by Ronley Lakalaka, who got his mitts on a wounded duck after change of pace QB Chase Cord was splattered by Kyahva Tezino. Three plays later, Jasmin was in the end zone and the Aztecs had the unexpected lead just before the half.
Hopefully the Aztecs were able to bring the Turnover Throne through airport security. It belongs in San Diego. We own it now, that’s how this works.
Best Some of Aztecs Twitter
And a bonus national tweets …
Rating Rocky Long’s likely enjoyment of the game, on a scale of subtitled French coming-of-age film to 1977 Trans Am with radar detector.
Tonight’s game rated a Win at Boise Damn State on the Rocky scale. Do you require further explanation? You do not.
I’ll say this for XTRA 1360: Reception was fairly decent while I was winding through the mountains on Campo Road. As for the ESPNU announcers, the sound wasn’t on while I smoked two packs secondhand at a local tribal casino sports bar, but it was Kirk Morrison on the color so I’m just going to assume the commentary was good.
What’s Next for Football Tecs
The Aztecs face Air Force and the even deadlier foe of a BIG WIN HANGOVER on Friday night at SDCCU Stadium. We all had thought Air Force sucked this year, but the Zoomies just crushed Navy 35-7 today so who the hell knows.
Bump off work early and get your ass out there. This team deserves it.