NCAA Football Mountain West Football

San Diego State Aztecs: Five Keys to Upset the Boise State Broncos

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5 Keys for the Aztecs to win at Boise State

Christopher Hanewinckel-US Presswire

Saturday night the lights will be bright in Boise, Idaho. Each week the Mountain West schedule eliminates a program from conference title contention. This weekend two programs will meet on the blue surface for the right to not only stay alive.

Both the Boise State Broncos and the San Diego State Aztecs, the Mountain West title will not be won outright Saturday, but it will be lost. SDSU enters as an underdog for good reason. Since 2000 the Broncos are 78-3 playing at home.

There's another problem for the Aztecs. Starting quarterback Ryan Katz was lost for the season to injury meaning sophomore Adam Dinwell must take care of buisiness. If (and it's a big if) Rocky Long's squad can somehow leave Idaho with a W, San Diego State will have nothing but real estate in front of them for a shot at a conference title. The Fresno State Bulldogs have the tie-breaker on the Aztecs.

In this hypothetical scenario the Aztecs would have only two games ahead of them with both being winnable. Out of the two, the Air Force Falcons would provide the sternest challenge, but that would be played in Qualcomm Stadium. The final game on the schedule is on the road in Laramie. At a current 1-7 record the Wyoming Cowboys would be heavy underdogs.

These are five keys to the game for a San Diego State upset.


James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow James on Twitter as well.

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5. Get to Southwick

Andrew Weber -US Presswire

Boise State's weakness this season has been the average to unpredictable play of quarterback Joe Southwick. When the Broncos run game is working, Southwick has less pressure to make plays. Sacking Southwick isn't easy because of the Broncos solid offensive line. The QB has only been sacked three times this season. The Aztecs do have a shot to make some plays defensively. SDSU is the second best team in the Mountain West when it comes to sacks with 20. Job number one when Southwick drops back, is to make his life uncomfortable.

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4. Get an early lead

Christopher Hanewinckel-US Presswire

When playing a great opponent on the road, the last thing you want to do is to lose confidence. As long as the Aztecs believe they are in the game they have a shot to keep playing with intensity for four quarters.

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3. Win the run game

Christopher Hanewinckel-US Presswire

Both teams love to run the football and have a duo of backs that make it work. For the Broncos D.J. Harper and Jay Ajayi compliment each other as well as any tandem in the Mountain West. The Aztecs will hand off to Adam Muema and Walter Kazee. All four rushers average at least 5 yards a carry. Whomever finishes with the most rushing yards has an excellent shot at winning the game. The Aztecs are first in the conference at tackles for loss a game with 7.1.

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2. Force Southwick to throw the ball on third down

Brian Losness-US Presswire

Similar to the third key on the list, the Aztecs have to create third and long situations. While Southwick has shown ability to distribute the rock in the passing game, he's at his best when the Broncos can run the football. Take away the pass surprise factor and the Aztecs have a chance. Give Southwick and the Broncos credit for converting 48.1% of third downs. Boise State can convert on the ground if they need three yards or less. Take Harper and Ajayi out of the conversation whenever possible.

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1. Win the turnover battle

Brian Losness-US Presswire

Quite simply the Broncos force turnovers and don't give up the ball easily. Boise State has the best turnover margin in the Mountain West. It would be in the Aztecs best interest to just not turn the ball over at all.

Find my prediction for the game in the week ten Mountain West prediction article.