San Diego State football entered 2018 on the heels of one of the best stretches in program history, ripping off 32 wins in three seasons. The 2018 season just ended with probably the lowest ebb of the Rocky Long era — a rain-soaked 27-0 loss to Ohio University in the Frisco Bowl in which the suspension-depleted Aztecs didn’t look particularly interested to be there.
What: Postseason football game Who: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Ohio Bobcats When: 5:00 p.m. Wednesday Where: Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas TV: ESPN Line: Ohio -2.5
The Stakes Pride and self-respect. Making their ninth straight bowl appearance, the Aztecs need a win to avoid ending the season on a four-game losing streak. And in a late surprise, SDSU will have to overcome the suspension of three players — including starters Noble Hall and Daishawn Dixon — sent home by Rocky Long two days before the game.
The Frisco Bowl is the former Miami Beach Bowl, which was played at Marlins Park from 2014 to 2016. Frisco is a half-hour drive north of Dallas.
Before being announced as SDSU’s bowl opponent, I was only vaguely aware of Ohio University’s existence. Founded in 1804 and the oldest university in the state, Ohio U. is situated on a sprawling 1,800-acre campus in the little college town of Athens. It sounds kind of idyllic to be quite honest. The school’s student population is 60 percent women, a demographic anomaly future college applicants may wish to consider.
Ohio started playing football in 1894. Pretty legit considering the game has only existed (as 25-on-25 murderball) since 1869. The football Bobcats have competed in Division I since 1962.
Maybe there was nothing of real consequence on the line Saturday night as the Aztecs played out the string against Hawai’i. We walked into the Tombstone with some concern that a seven-win SDSU team in the improved Mountain West could get left without a bowl bid. That’s possible, though consensus seems to be that the only bowl-eligible team in Southern California will merit a forgettable postseason invite.
But in a larger sense, the 31-30 overtime loss felt like the night our legends and myths dissipated into mist before our eyes.
What: Football game Who: San Diego State Aztecs at Fresno State Bulldogs When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Where: Bulldog Stadium TV: CBS Sports Network Line: Fresno State -13
All the remaining marbles. SDSU stays mathematically alive for a conference championship with a win; a loss sends the Aztecs home with no Oil Can and only a bottom-tier bowl bid to look forward to.
San Diego State escaped with a 16-13 win over San José State on Saturday night in a football game which — by all objective evidence — occurred.
The Spartans came in 0-6, losers in so many senses of the word. The writers of this web site goofed hard on winless Old Sparty and breezily predicted an easy win at the old Tombstone. For Homecoming. On “Red Out” night. In this week’s Game Preview, AztecsKillingHim wrote:
Last year’s red-themed games resulted in a blowout football loss to Boise State and an embarrassing last-second hoops collapse against a putrid Cal squad. Losing to San José State would prove once and for all that red is a cursed color and should probably be removed as a school color entirely.
Red Out is a hex, a self-own, a salt shaker with a loose lid. This wasn’t a loss — barely — but can we all now agree: Red Out promotions are BAD. From now on I’m holding anyone who specifically wears red to a Red Out game personally responsible for the ensuing chaos, heartbreak and misery.
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.
When I think back on the biggest victories I’ve witnessed as a San Diego State football fan, a particular memory comes to mind for each. I’ll never forget the euphoric mass of humanity on the field at STADIUM last September following the Stanford upset. Nor will I forget the realization dawning on me, after that clutch Adam Muema first down run in 2012, that the Aztecs had actually just beaten Boise State on The Blue.
When I think of tonight’s 28-21 win over No. 23 Arizona State — a game that probably ranks just a bit behind those two in the pantheon of Rocky Long-era wins — the lasting memory will be me nearly barfing six slices of Woodstock’s pizza onto some poor souls in Plaza Level below.
I’m not out of the woods yet in that regard, either, so apologies if I end up losing my dinner in this post. That game was … something.