San Diego State vs. Fresno State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Friday night’s matchup between the Aztecs and Bulldogs.
When: Friday, Oct. 14 – 10:00 p.m. ET
Where: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, California
TV Broadcast: CBSSN
Rocky Long’s Aztecs went into Week 6 hungry after losing their first game of the season to South Alabama … South Alabama for crying out loud. San Diego State was back at home for the first time since Sept. 10, and it handled UNLV with ease. The Aztecs took down the Rebels, 26-7. San Diego State jumped out to a 10-point lead early on and would have held UNLV scoreless had the Rebels not returned a fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, have made a habit out of losing. They were on the road at Nevada Saturday night, and narrowly lost, 27-22. Fresno State got out to an early 3-0 lead, but it lasted for less than five minutes. They never led again in the game. Fresno State has now dropped its last four games and seven of its last eight games — dating back to last season.
The all-time series between the Aztecs and Bulldogs has been close. San Diego State leads it, 28-23-4, and it took last year’s meeting in San Diego, 21-7. However, before that loss in 2015, Fresno State had won the previous three matchups.
What To Know About San Diego State
Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch him. Donnel Pumphrey’s the man. Okay, that might have been as lame as can be, but Pumphrey has been electric and was great against UNLV last weekend. He was given 31 carries and took them for 141 yards and a touchdown. That brings his season totals to 891 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Pumphrey got some help from Rashaad Penny, who rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
That ground game was aided by a solid defensive effort. Derek Babiash forced the team’s only turnover with his lone interception. But he also provided five solo tackles. Alex Barrett and Austin Wyatt-Thayer both recorded a sack, and the Aztecs held UNLV to 122 yards of total offense.
However, San Diego State was penalized seven times for 75 yards, so that will have to be cleaned up.
What to Know About Fresno State
In spite of the loss, the Bulldogs got a solid effort from Dontel James against Nevada. The tailback took his 27 carries for 169 rushing yards and a touchdown. However, he didn’t have a whole lot of backup in the running attack. Quarterback Chason Virgil combined with Treyvon Green, Zach Kline and KeeSean Johnson for only 78 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Virgil was average from the pocket, too. He completed 16-of-27 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. On the season, the sophomore quarterback has completed 48.6 percent of his passes for 1,366 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
It simply wasn’t a clean game for the Bulldogs. They fumbled three times and lost two of them. Plus, they were penalized five times for 57 yards.
Offense: San Diego State – There are few players in Division-1A football as exciting as Pumphrey. He’s all the Aztecs need against Fresno State.
Defense: San Diego State – After that smothering performance against UNLV, it has to be the Aztecs.
Special Teams: San Diego State – Penny has been dynamite in the kick return game and already has returned one for a touchdown. Plus, John Baron has been reliable in the kicking game.
Coaching: San Diego State – Long is a fine head coach, and he’s got his team on track to defend its Mountain West Conference title.
Matchup To Watch
Donnel Pumphrey vs. Fresno State front seven
The Bulldogs can’t — repeat — can’t allow Pumphrey to get into the second level. If he does, the Bulldogs will be staring at the back of his jersey for a long, long time. If San Diego State gets him into the open field, he can crib it without even trying. That’s how explosive he is in that San Diego State offense. The Aztecs look to get him out on the edge, involved in the passing game and will even send him between the tackles. If he’s given a crease, Pumphrey can rack up yards in a hurry. It will be up to Fresno State to force him back inside when he makes a move toward the perimeter. The Bulldogs will have to wrap up and drive through their tackles. Lay a few big hits on Pumphrey early, and maybe you’ll throw him off his game.
Spread: San Diego State -16.5
Over/Under: No over/under as of post
San Diego State vs. Fresno State Prediction
This is Pumphrey’s world. We’re just living in it. He’s going to break the 150-yards-rushing mark once again. However, this week, he’ll have more than one touchdown. San Diego State will guide him into the end zone on the ground, and he’ll also catch a screen pass and zip his way through the Fresno State defense for a receiving touchdown. The Bulldogs will rely upon James to match that effort, but he’ll be bottled up by San Diego State. Virgil will toss a touchdown or two, but he’ll also get picked off. The Aztecs take this one by three scores.
San Diego State vs. Fresno State Score Prediction: San Diego State 42, Fresno State 21