Hawaii Warriors Aztecs Snapdragon – Mountain West Connection

Aztecs become bowlable with last week’s win. Is disappointment appropriate or have the Aztecs found the key to lasting success?

Now that the Aztecs have cleared a seemingly difficult hurdle to bowl-eligibility, are they continuing their newfound momentum, or do they face a game-changing disappointment? There is so much good about the Aztecs 43-27 against the San Jose State Spartans. First is the ability to take a 14 point deficit and run 38 points in a row. Despite the Spartans losing tight end Sam Olson on the first drive and losing their play call, the Aztecs stepped up their game in every way. Early adjustments made by the Aztecs showed that their coach was quick to react and the players skilled enough to make the necessary changes. The defensive secondary smothered leading receiver Elijah Cooks after his amazing one-handed catch and first touchdown. Defensive line play thwarted every game in progress and put quarterback Chevan Cordeiro in “stag in the spotlight” mode for most of the game. Add to that Jalen Mayden, Offensive Player of the Week in the conference, and his amazing performance in both throwing and running the ball. Receivers seem to be found early, every ball thrown their way, controlling down and distance scenarios with easy first downs. The only problem was the typical Aztec strength zone, the running game. Mayden led all rushers with 61 yards, but that’s a surprise considering how many backs the Aztecs have at their disposal. In order for them to end the year strong, they need to run back over 100 yards and score a few points. Braxton Burmeister has returned to practice and is listed as a backup quarterback. Meanwhile, safety CJ Baskerville is improving from injury but likely won’t play with Cedarious Barfield listed as a starter.

San Diego State Aztecs (Conf. 6-4, 4-2, Division 3-1) vs. New Mexico Lobos (Conf. 2-8, 0-6, Division 0-4)
location: University Stadium, (39.224), Albuquerque, New Mexico

line: State of San Diego -14 (Provided by DraftKingsSportsbooks) Over/Under 39.5 points. The Aztecs are strong favorites according to Oddsmakers. The result prognosis appears to be a 27-13 win for the Aztecs. New Mexico has won two games this year, both at home. They’re coming off a 35-3 loss to Air Force down the road. The Aztecs win a 43-27 home win over San Jose State.

appointment time: Friday, November 18 at 6:45pm PST

TV: Fox Sports 1

radio: San Diego Sport 760

story: This is the 44th meeting between the two teams in which the Aztecs have a 28-15 lead. They are 8-2 in their last ten games, including a 31-7 win at Carson last year. The Lobos won the first meeting between the teams in 1953, 41-12. The Aztecs averaged 26 points per game during that span. This seems consistent with the odds makers.

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Who are these Lobos?

The Lobos started the season with wins over Maine and UTEP but haven’t won since week three. Expected losses to Boise State, LSU, Fresno State and the Air Force were among losses to UNLV, Wyoming, Utah State, and perhaps most surprisingly a 21-9 loss to established rivals New Mexico State. Seven straight losses leave the Lobos apartment in the basement of the Mountain Division. Unfortunately, they don’t play Nevada, the current residents of the West Division. Their last two games of the season are against the Aztecs and then against Colorado State. The Rams should defeat the Lobos and project the Lobos to a final 2-10 record this year. Over the year, the Lobos are averaging 14 points per game while scoring 26 points. They average nearly 240 yards offense and rank bottom in the conference. On defense, they rank 5th with 356 yards, putting them on par with San Diego State. The Lobos started the year with Miles Kendrick at quarterback. He is 85/144 passing with 7 interceptions and only 3 TD’s. He has thrown for 859 yards. Justin Holaday has led the Lobos since the Fresno State Game. He averaged hurling the pigskin at 26/59 for 222 yards, one interception and 135 rushing yards. He’s joined in the backfield by RB Nate Jones, who added 466 yards and 2 TDs but a woeful 4.3-yard average. Holaday has two main receivers in Geordon Porter, 19 catches, 303 yards and 2 TDs and Luke Wysong, 27 catches, 256 yards and a point total. Probably the main standout is punter Aaron Rodriguez, who averages 44 yards per kick. He also leads the league with 65 total shots, so it’s possible his leg will be tiring soon. On defense, the main standouts are LB Cody Moon with 84 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 6.5 TFL. There are also two interceptions each from AJ Hauley and Ronald Wilson. New Mexico head coach Danny Gonzales is in his third year. Basically, while it has made strides, it still hasn’t taken the necessary steps to become a competitive program. Prior to this tenure, he was San Diego State’s safety trainer and defense coordinator from 2011 to 2017.

Will the Aztecs come out on top?

Analysis/Prediction:

My preseason pick for this game was a 48-13 Aztec win. While the odds makers don’t think there will be any major attacks, I believe the Aztecs tasted blood and enjoyed scoring points and will win 35-13. The Aztecs are really stepping up their overall game, led by Mayden and his passing and decision making. If they can build a steady running back effort, the Aztecs should dominate. Mayden really made the difference for the Aztecs in passing, taking them from 65 yards per game to 250 yards per game, good enough for 44th in the country. Additionally, the Aztecs were strong with a 41% 3rd down conversion rate. The Lobos are fast counting down their season and are likely looking forward to the season finale against Colorado State. The Aztecs are a dark horse to win the division as they need Fresno to lose twice (odds are against), but they are playing for bowl placement. Winning their last two games will help cement what is likely the third-best bowl available for the conference. There are several possibilities that will be covered over the next few weeks as the landscape clears. Meanwhile, the Aztecs look to one time, one night, and one win as they prepare to play La Bamba against the Lobos.

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