No. 22 SDSU, Boise State wakes up early for big game
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SAN DIEGO (AP) – As people across the country scramble for Black Friday deals or begin to retreat from the Thanksgiving food coma, Boise State and San Diego State No.22 will receive a early awakening to a confrontation on a soccer field in suburban Los Angeles that will help decide the Mountain West Conference division titles.
San Diego State (10-1, 6-1, No.21 CFP) heads to 9am kickoff by controlling their own destiny in the West, only needing a win over the Broncos (7-4, 5-2) to clinch the division. Fresno State defeated San Jose State Thursday to stay alive in the West Division. If SDSU loses to the Broncos, Fresno State will win the division based on their 30-20 victory over the Aztecs on October 30.
If the Aztecs win on Friday morning, they’ll be back at their temporary home, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, for the MWC title game on December 4.
The road from Boise State to the Mountain Division crown is more complicated. The Broncos are on par with the Air Force and the State of Utah but do not control their own destiny.
The Aztecs went from a kick-off at 8:30 p.m. last Friday in Las Vegas to a kick-off at 9 a.m. 116 miles from campus, home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy. The football field has been their temporary home stadium for two seasons while the 35,000-seat Aztec Stadium rises in San Diego’s Mission Valley, the first phase of a campus expansion to the site where 70,000 San Diego / Jack Murphy / Qualcomm / SDCCU Stadium places once stood.
“I think our kids are thrilled about it,” coach Brady Hoke said of the early kickoff. “I think they don’t care when we play. They just know they have a job to do, we all do it, and go out and play. I know my 90-year-old stepdad and 89-year-old mom are going to enjoy game time at noon in Ohio, so I feel good for them.
EARLY WAKE-UP CALL
The Aztecs trained on Wednesday morning and had a morning visit Thursday before heading to Carson. Friday’s pre-game meal is scheduled for 5:30 a.m.
“We’ll probably have to get up early and our pre-game meal will probably be around breakfast time, which is our spaghetti and chicken and stuff like that, will probably be for breakfast,” said linebacker Caden McDonald. “But this team will do a great job. We all adjust to the morning stuff anyway. We are therefore delighted to play at 9 am. It’s on CBS, it’s gonna be a great atmosphere, everyone’s gonna watch, we’re all excited about it.
San Diego State junior punter / placekicker Matt Araiza remains the Aztecs’ most powerful threat after repeatedly forcing opponents into a bad position on the court with his soaring left foot. Araiza, a Ray Guy Award finalist, leads the FBS in punt average to 51.9 yards and is on track to break the NCAA FBS record. His statistics are mind-boggling. He has an NCAA record of 36 punters that have traveled at least 50 yards, an NCAA record of 17 punters from 60 yards and 34 punters inside the 20-yard line. Araiza has six punts of at least 70 yards, the longest of which is 86 yards. He also has two games with at least an 80-yard punt and a 50-yard field goal.
Araiza was named Mountain West’s Special Teams Player of the Week for the fourth time after averaging 47.5 yards on six punts in a UNLV win and not allowing a return yard. . Five of those punts were taken inside the 16-yard line. The UNLV’s starting position on the field after the six punts was 12, 15, 8, 6, 36, 1.
Boise State junior quarterback Hank Bachmeier threw for 2,857 yards in 11 games, ranking 20th nationally, and his 259.7 passing yards per game rank 23rd. He threw 18 touchdown passes (tied for 36th), has 21.0 completed passes per game (tied for 23rd) and has 257.9 total yards of attack (37th).
Bachmeier is from Murrieta, about 120 km from Carson.
San Diego State senior quarterback Lucas Johnson may have just had his best game. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception and a career-high 175.12 passers in a 28-20 victory at UNLV. In his last three games, Johnson is 51 of 74 (68.9%) for 467 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception and 137.06 rating.
The series is tied 3-3, making the Aztecs the only MWC team the Broncos don’t have a winning record against. The Broncos are 2-1 when they face the Aztecs on the road. They eliminated SDSU 31-14 on October 14, 2017, in the only previous meeting in which the Aztecs were classified. SDSU returned the favor in 2018, winning 19-13 at Boise.
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