FACTS & STATS: Site: Bulldog Stadium (41,031) — Fresno, California.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SDSU 2-0, FSU 1-1. Away Record: SDSU 0-2,
FSU 1-2. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: SDSU 1-0,
FSU 1-0. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 27-22-4.
GAME NOTES: Having shown signs of a turn-around after a brutal start to the
2014 campaign the Fresno State Bulldogs, playing the 1,000th game in program
history, host the San Diego State Aztecs in Mountain West Conference action on
Fresno State, which has 579 wins all-time, started off the new season with
three straight defeats against USC, Utah and Nebraska, brutal experiences that
left the Bulldogs with one of the worst defenses in the nation. The team put
an end to the skid with a 56-16 rout of Southern Utah on Sept. 20, and then
topped New Mexico, 35-24, in the conference opener six days later.
Like Fresno State, the Aztecs are also off to a 1-0 conference start, the two
teams tied with Nevada for first place in the West Division currently. After
bowing to both North Carolina and Oregon State on the road, SDSU returned to
southern California and claimed a 34-17 victory versus UNLV last weekend to
even its overall record at 2-2.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, San Diego State maintains a
27-22-4 edge over the Bulldogs entering play this week, although it was FSU
that captured a 35-28 overtime affair on the road last season, part of the
team’s 10-game win streak to open the 2013 campaign.
En route to being named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the
Week, Donnel Pumphrey lit up the UNLV run defense by putting up a game-high
167 yards and a staggering four touchdowns on 22 carries, as the Aztecs
doubled up on the Rebels at home last weekend. As a unit, the SDSU rushing
attack accounted for 257 yards, averaging six yards per attempt, thanks in
large part to Pumphrey who averaged 7.6 yards per run.
Quarterback Quinn Kaehler added another 209 yards through the air, completing
16 of his 27 passes, while being sacked only once. Kaehler spread the wealth
among eight receivers, with Larry Clark turning four receptions into 71 yards.
The SDSU defense had some trouble slowing down UNLV quarterback Blake Decker
from time to time, but in addition to allowing 346 yards and a score over the
top, the Aztecs did get after the signal caller for six sacks and a pair of
interceptions. Of his three total tackles, Alex Barrett came away with a pair
of sacks, while Damontae Kazee and Billy Vaughn both recorded three pass
breakups, the latter posting a pick as well.
Through four games, the Aztecs have shown the ability to slow down the run
rather well, limiting foes to just 115.3 ypg, which is 35th in the country
this week, but the pass defense is another story for sure. Allowing 268.0 ypg
(98th nationally), SDSU continues to give opponents opportunities that just
should not be there when the unit is operating at peak performance.
In Pumphrey, San Diego State has one of the better runners in the country, one
who is generating 116.8 ypg and averaging 6.2 yards per carry, thanks in large
part to his 71-yard TD run last weekend. Pumphrey is responsible for more than
half of the squad’s 138 running plays, and he has nine TDs to show for his
efforts, more than all of the competition combined.
Even more pressure will be on Pumphrey this week after news broke that Kaehler
was expected to miss the meeting with Fresno State due to a shoulder injury.
The Bulldogs fell behind by double digits in the second quarter against New
Mexico last Saturday in Albuquerque, but the team then came alive with a 28-7
burst to grab the lead and secure the league victory on the road. After
struggling through the first several weeks of the campaign, FSU erupted for
593 yards of total offense, averaging close to seven yards per play and
limiting mistakes to only four penalties for a loss of 27 yards.
Quarterback Brian Burrell handled almost all of the snaps for Fresno State,
converting 27-of-39 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns, while shaking
off three sacks and an interception. Josh Harper and Aaron Peck both caught
six balls, amounting to 94 and 83 yards, respectively, the former also making
his way into the end zone. On the ground, the Bulldogs relied heavily on
Marteze Waller who carried the ball 19 times for 163 yards, although it was
Burrell and Josh Quezada who each landed in the end zone.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs had some issues slowing down
the UNM running attack, but that’s nothing new when you consider the Lobos
mostly focus on controlling the action. Certainly, giving up 285 yards on the
ground is nothing to be proud of, nor should the Bulldogs celebrate the fact
that UNM completed a total of only four passes for 97 yards and a touchdown,
but at least the visitors came out on top.
Despite the efforts of the Bulldogs in the last couple of games, the fact
remains that the group is still ranked 119th in the country in yards allowed
(508.2 ypg), and will have to put together a string of elite efforts in order
to significantly lower their 41.2 ppg allowed (119th). Unfortunately, the
group has a pass defense efficiency rating of 192.14 (last in the FBS), and
that could be a stat that hangs around their necks like a stone for the rest
of the season.
Burrell seems to have settled in as the primary quarterback option for the
Bulldogs for the time being, but don’t be surprised if head coach Tim DeRuyter
throws in a wrinkle here and there. Completing 58.2 percent of his passes,
Burrell has thrown for 888 yards and eight touchdowns, easily offsetting his
three interceptions. No matter who is under center, Harper continues to be a
solid option down the field with his 30 catches for 374 yards, both of which
are twice as much as his closest teammate.
With Kaehler out of the picture the Aztecs will be at a severe disadvantage,
even though Fresno State is far from the team it was a season ago. As long as
Pumphrey can find holes the visitors will have a shot at the victory. If not,
the Bulldogs will be on their way to taking over the division lead.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 31, San Diego State 24