San Diego State Season Win Total Prediction
Through the years, San Diego State fans have been privileged to watch extraordinary individual talents like Marshall Faulk and La’Roi Glover. Last season, however, saw arguably the finest collective run in the program’s history.
Not only did the Aztecs win 11 games, they proceeded to slay the Mountain West’s fire-breathing dragon. Boise State ceded control of the conference to Rocky Long’s squad, which went on to annihilate Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl. Donnel Pumphrey even had a Faulk-esque impact on the festivities, gouging the Bearcats for well over 100 all-purpose yards.
At the end of the day, though, SDSU adores putting everybody to work. Such depth is a huge reason why the group will keep wreaking havoc in 2016. Online sports book Bovada.lv projects the Aztecs, who open vs. New Hampshire in two-plus weeks, for 9.5 victories.
Pumphrey resisted the temptation of the NFL in order to enjoy one final go-around at Qualcomm Stadium. The leader of the offense delights in following the blocking of left guard Nico Siragusa, whose array of skills should also translate to the next level. While Siragusa represents the O-line’s standout performer, he receives plenty of help from fellow seniors Kwayde Miller and Arthur Flores. Their interconnectedness allowed the Aztecs to rush for a school-record 3,266 yards a year ago.
Christian Chapman, who replaced the injured Maxwell Smith early in a Nov. 28 conquest of Nevada, assumes starting quarterback duties again. The trigger man would welcome increased production from Mikah Holder and Eric Judge, as that duo combined for only 39 catches last fall. Bottom line: The evolutionary process can’t continue via second-nature checkdowns to Pumphrey (72 career receptions).
Lockdown corner Damontae Kazee headlines Long’s defense. He’s accompanied by burgeoning safety Malik Smith, who’s coming off a five-interception campaign. Calvin Munson creates his fair share of disruption at outside linebacker, too, as evidenced by those 98 tackles and 9 ½ sacks.
Said players’ underrated ability to maintain gap and lane integrity, however, really lets the front four go crazy. Ends Alex Barrett and Kyle Kelley provide all sorts of explosiveness off the edge. The two joined forces for 13 takedowns – and countless QB hurries – in 2015. If they refine certain techniques and mature further, this D may trump the unit that just held foes to 16.4 points per tilt.
We won’t neglect San Diego State’s ridiculous X-factor either. Rashaad Penny averaged a Mountain West-best 33.5 yards a return last season. Moreover, the California native scored touchdowns on three of his 24 opportunities. If it feels as if the home-run threats never stop streaming through SoCal these semesters, well, that’s because they don’t.
SDSU reeled off 10 triumphs in a row to cap last year, the second-longest active winning streak in college football entering September. But a pair of nonconference bouts – against California and Northern Illinois – could present stumbling blocks before Utah State and the Wolf Pack even show up on the schedule. We love so many aspects of Long’s crew, and yet banking on a repeat seems a bit foolhardy.
THURSDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS OVER 9.5 WINS