SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego State jumped into The Associated Press Top 25 after a close road victory against UNLV and then moved up a spot after a bye weekend.
That certainly caught coach Rocky Long’s attention.
“It’s always nice to be ranked but it’s really funny that you don’t play and you get to move up,” Long said. “That’s an interesting deal. So I’d just as soon not play this week and move up again, eventually move up into the top 10, right?”
Nice thought, but the No. 24 Aztecs (7-1, 4-1 Mountain West) are scheduled to play Nevada (5-4, 2-3) at home on Saturday night.
It’s the second of four straight games against conference rivals that beat the Aztecs last year. SDSU can’t afford to trip up again because it holds the inside track to winning the West Division title and a spot in the conference championship game.
Nevada, struggling with a porous defense and issues at quarterback, has lost three of its last five games
THE REDEMPTION TOUR
A 28-24 loss at Nevada last year was the first of five defeats in the last six games for the Aztecs, including a shutout loss to Ohio in the Frisco Bowl. While it was “disappointing for sure,” the Aztecs aren’t dwelling on it too much, senior defensive lineman Myles Cheatum said. “I was definitely stunned at the time but I’m definitely going into this week with a clear mind.”
Said Long: “They played well against us last year and beat us.”
SDSU is coming off a close win at UNLV, which stunned the Aztecs in San Diego last season, and in the next two weeks will try to avenge 2018 losses to Fresno State and Hawaii.
SDSU can’t afford to stumble like it did last year if it wants to get back to the MWC title game for the first time since 2016. The Aztecs are bowl eligible for the 10th straight season overall and ninth straight under Long, and would like to go into the postseason as the league champion.
“That’s all we’re worried about right now,” Cheatum said. “We set a goal, let’s achieve that first and then we’ll move on to the next one.”
WOLF PACK D
Nevada has allowed 34.6 points and 413.3 yards per game this season.
NEVADA QB SITUATION
Freshman Carson Strong is expected to make his third straight start and seventh overall at a position where there’s been upheaval. He started the first three games before coach Jay Norvell tried Malik Henry and Cristian Solano before going back to Strong, who has thrown for 1,281 yards and five touchdowns, with six interceptions, including 305 yards and two TDs in a 21-10 win against New Mexico last Saturday.
SDSU’s offense hasn’t made much noise this year, but that’s OK because the defense ranks among the national leaders in nearly every category, including third in rushing defense (69.9 yards), fourth in rushing yards allowed per carry (2.4), sixth in first downs allowed (118), tied for sixth in total touchdowns allowed (13), eighth in scoring defense (14.1), 12th in total defense (283.5), tied for 14th in passing touchdowns allowed (8) and 25th in passing efficiency rating (115.6).
Senior linebacker Kyahva Tezino has been a force during the four-game winning streak, with 39 tackles, three tackles for losses and seven quarterback hurries.
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