No. 24 SDSU faces defending Mountain West champ San Jose St. on short week


SAN DIEGO – The No. 24 San Diego State Aztecs still haven’t forgotten their first loss last season. 

“Last year, the last 12 minutes, weren’t any fun for anybody,” SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said, reflecting on the November 2020 game against San Jose State that just escaped them.

A year later, SDSU is hungry for revenge and it’s potentially on the menu Friday night against the Spartans.

“We’ve had this game circled on our calendar,” Aztec senior linebacker Caden McDonald said. “San Jose, that put a bad taste in our mouth. They’re the reigning Mountain West Conference champs and that’s the goal we have every year.”

Last season, the Spartans not only handed the Aztecs their first loss of the season, but they did it en route to the program’s first conference title.

“That’s the goal we have every year, to be the conference champions,” McDonald said. “They took that from us and ran all over our field and celebrated in our faces because they won and beat us at our place.

“That hurt our pride a little bit and we want to beat them this year.” 

The Aztecs enter as one of 13 unbeaten teams left in the country at 5-0.

“They’re a group that understands that there’s a demeanor that we’re gonna play with,” Hoke said. “We all know what we’re going to have to do and we’re gonna do it in our best fashion and play hard.” 

What might be the most impressive, SDSU ranks among the top 20 nationally in 17 NCAA statistical categories including top 10 in rushing defense, tackles for loss, red zone defense, total defense and sacks.

“That’s not good enough for us, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of all, we want to be number one in every single defensive category and if we’re not, there’s definitely room for improvement,” McDonald said.

A win against San Jose State would put the Aztecs at six on the season, making them bowl eligible. Taking to the team, bowl games aren’t the emphasis. They only care about winning a conference championship.

“That’s the main goal of the entire season, win the conference championship,” McDonald said. “That’s where we have our eyes set on and that’s all we care about and that’s the main goal.”

“Bowl games are fun, all the gear, all the traveling and being in a different location but we’re focused on winning the 22nd conference championship,” senior center Alama Uluave said. 

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 pm Friday in San Jose.

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