The San Diego Aztecs are now starting to fulfill their preseason expectations as potential Mountain West Champions and they look to keep rolling visiting Colorado State.
One of the preseason favorites to win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference has gone a perfect 4-0 inside the conference after a slow non-conference start, and it should be more of the same Saturday when those San Diego State Aztecs (5-3, 4-4 ATS) pay a visit to the disappointing Colorado State Rams (3-4, 3-3 ATS) at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, CO at 3:30 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has San Diego State as a moderate road favorite for this contest with the current line at -4½ with odds of -106.
Overcame Slow Start
San Diego State had a posted win total of 7½ before the season, and its chances of reaching that total appeared bleak after going 1-3 during non-conference play to begin the year including a bad loss at home to South Alabama as a 17½-point favorite. However, the light went on just as the Mountain West Conference season began as the Aztecs have gone 4-0 since that poor start, giving them a 1½-game lead over 3-2 San Jose State in the West Division.
Colorado State was a great story last year going 10-2 during the regular season before the Rams were the losing college football picks to an excellent Utah team in the Las Vegas Bowl. However, the Florida Gators took notice as they poached away Coach Jim McElwain, and the Rams replaced him with former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Unfortunately they have already doubled their regular season loss total of last year under Bobo as they sit at 3-4.
Stiff Defense and Solid Running Game
Just as at any level of football from high school through the NFL, if a team plays very good defense and runs the ball well, it will win a lot of football games and the Aztecs are doing just that, especially during their four-game winning streak all inside the conference. Most recently, San Diego State dominated Utah State 48-14 on Friday, the same Utah State team that blew out Boise State the prior week.
Such was the Aztecs’ dominance in that game that they had more rushing yards alone with 336 than the Aggies had total yards, at 239! That is becoming par for the course for San Diego State though, as it is ranked 11th in the country in total defense allowing 288.9 yards per game and 32nd in rushing offense at 206.4!
Running back Donnel Pumphrey has had a season mirroring that of his team, as he was disappointing in the first four non-conference games but has been a monster in the four Mountain West games, averaging 151.3 rushing yards with his lowest output being 124 yards! Pumphrey and the rest of the San Diego State backs should have continued success here vs. a Colorado State team ranked 107th in the country in rushing defense allowing 205.0 yards per game.
Inexperience at Quarterback and Shaky Defense
Colorado State went 2-2 in non-conference play, but the Rams then opened up their conference season with a 33-18 loss to Utah State, the same Utah State team that San Diego State routed last week, and that was followed by a 41-10 blowout loss to Boise State here at home. The Rams then finally broke into the win column for the first time inside the Mountain West last week with a mild upset 38-23 over Air Force as 3½-point underdogs, also here at home.
The Rams have gotten erratic quarterback play from sophomore Nick Stevens, although he shined last week in the win over Air Force as he completed 23-of-30 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. However, do not expect a replay here vs. the stout Aztecs’ defense, especially if San Diego State builds a lead with its dominant running game vs. the poor CSU run defense, thus focusing its attention on Stevens with the Rams in one-dimensional comeback mode.
Loving the Altitude
Finally, San Diego State has prospered in the altitude of Fort Collins going 5-2 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings at Colorado State, and the Aztecs are also 6-2 in the last eight meetings overall. San Diego State is also 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 conference games, while Colorado State is 1-4 ATS its last five games vs. teams with winning records.
Look for those patterns to continue here and for San Diego State to improve to 5-0 inside the Mountain West with a rather handy road win at Colorado State on CBS Sports Network on Saturday.
College Football Pick: San Diego State -4½ (-106)