The San Diego State Fan’s Guide to Week 6
It’ll be another long weekend of waiting until Saturday night, but here’s how Aztecs fans can pass the time.
Now that the race to New Year’s Day is on, it’s time to keep one eye on San Diego State’s competitors.
If you’re a fan of the San Diego State Aztecs, congratulations! You’ve made it to 5-0, and while things didn’t quite break your way last weekend, we at Mountain West Wire are hopeful that the slate of games to watch made the wait for last Saturday’s win over Northern Illinois more bearable.
Now, it’s on to Week 6. Here’s what to watch:
#17 Louisville at #24 North Carolina State
Thursday, 5:00 PM, ESPN
Everybody is chasing Clemson in the ACC Atlantic division, but Louisville already lost the tiebreaker to the Tigers and will be tested on the road in Raleigh. You may have heard of Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson — he’s pretty good! — but the Wolfpack’s Ryan Finley, a Mountain West blast from the past, had a very good September of his own: He’s thrown 192 passes without an interception, by far the most in the FBS, and leads the ACC with a 71.9% completion rate. If you’re looking for QB battles this weekend, this one is one of the best.
#13 Miami (FL) at Florida State
Saturday, 12:30 PM, ESPN
It’s hard to imagine a top-flight program having a worse start to their season than Florida State did in September, but are the Seminoles turning things around? They scraped together a win over a pretty good Wake Forest team last weekend, though freshman quarterback James Blackman (55.9%, 399 yards, 2 TDs in two games) is clearly learning on the job.
The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have only played three games but have begun to heat up, surviving Toledo before dominating Duke last Saturday. They’ve ridden a powerful running game that might even make some Aztecs fans jealous: The trio of quarterback Malik Rozier and running backs Mark Walton and Travis Homer have combined for 8.4 yards per carry and eight touchdowns on 84 attempts.
If that weren’t enough, the last three games between these two teams have been decided by a combined ten games. Tune in for the last five minutes, at least.
#16 Virginia Tech at Boston College
Saturday, 4:15 PM, ESPN2
The Hokies looked pretty good before running into the Clemson buzzsaw last weekend, and while the Eagles are clearly a work in progress in year four of the Steve Addazio era, a trip to Chestnut Hill could test Virginia Tech if the home defense can give them a fighting chance.
Harold Landry, who led the ACC in sacks last year, has just two so far in 2017 but has been credited with five tackles for loss and seven run stuffs (per Football Study Hall), and he has company among a solid defensive line in junior Zach Allen, who has three sacks and five TFLs at present. They also rank second in the conference in interceptions, owing mostly to Lukas Denis and his FBS-leading five takeaways.
If BC can create opportunities for itself, an upset bid might hinge on how much they capitalize on those chances: Both the Eagles and Hokies rank among the top 20 in average starting field position, but Tech is 87th in points per trip inside the 40-yard line while Boston College is 122nd. At a minimum, see if the Eagles can keep it interesting for a quarter.
#25 Central Florida at Cincinnati
Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPNU
Is the race to New Year’s Day a three-team race once again? Scott Frost’s Knights have certainly looked impressive in the games they’ve been able to play thus far, winning three games by a combined 136-40. A big reason for the improved play: Quarterback McKenzie Milton, who had an up-and-down 2016 but currently ranks seventh nationally in QB rating as a sophomore.
The Bearcats aren’t quite the power they used to be a few years ago, but they could make things interesting if the defense comes out strong: Defensive linemen Marquise Copeland and Kevin Mouhon have combined for nine tackles for loss, and they rank in the top 30 nationally in opponents’ red zone conversion rate (though it is worth noting that UCF currently ranks 2nd, with just seven opportunities presented to their defense).