- San Diego State is a home underdog against Boise State with Mountain West division titles on the line for both teams Friday at noon ET on CBS
- The 10-1 Aztecs feature the third-best rush defense in the FBS, while the 7-4 Broncos have the 11th-best scoring defense
- See game odds, analysis and a prediction by scrolling below
The #21 San Diego State Aztecs (10-1, 6-1 MWC) host the Boise State Broncos (7-4, 5-2 MWC) in a Black Friday morning kickoff on the West Coast. The game is scheduled to get underway at noon ET from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson and the game will be televised on CBS.
Head coach Brady Hoke’s Aztecs own wins over Pac-12 programs Utah and Arizona in 2021 and possess the second-best special teams unit in the country, according to ESPN College Football Efficiency. As for the Broncos, first-year head coach Andy Avalos has his team getting hot at the right time. Following a loss to Air Force on Oct. 16, the Broncos have won four in a row and are very much alive in the race for a fifth straight appearance in the Mountain West championship game.
Now, the streaking Broncos are 2.5-point favorites against an Aztecs squad aiming for an 11th regular season win for the first time in program history.
Boise State vs San Diego State Odds
|Boise State Broncos||-2.5 (-110)||-135||O 44.5 (-110)|
|San Diego State Aztecs||+2.5 (-110)||+115||U 44.5 (-110)|
Odds as of November 24th at DraftKings
Matt Araiza is an All-American Kicker
It may not be sexy, but a big reason why San Diego State is on the verge of its best regular season in program history is because of its kicking game. Specifically, junior punter/placekicker Matt Araiza.
Matt Araiza, while you were sleeping:
—6 punts, 5 inside 20, no touchbacks, no returns
—59-yard punt to the 5-yard line
—44-yard punt to the 1
—extremely rare “game-ending punt” which dribbled along the ground until the clock expired
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) November 20, 2021
And that all happened in just one game (SDSU’s 28-20 road win over UNLV last Friday). The semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award is on pace to break the FBS record for punt average – booming kicks, on average, an incredible 51.9 yards. The superlatives don’t end there. An NCAA record 36 of his punts have traveled at least 50 yards and 17 have traveled 60 yards – while 34 of his kicks have been downed inside the 20-yard line. Coaches talk all the time about field position – and Araiza gives Hoke the ultimate chess piece.
For a team with a relatively inexperienced starting quarterback (Lucas Johnson owns a 6-1 record as the Aztecs starter) and likes to pin its ears back against opponents (SDSU ranks 11th in total defense), the four-time MWC Special Teams Player of the Week this season is a difference maker. The Broncos have their work cut out for them in their coverage teams.
Run the Ball, Play Defense
Boise State has ripped off four straight victories by playing a straight-forward brand of ball. With running back George Holani healthy after battling hamstring issues in the first half of the season, the Broncos have committed to the ground game.
— Boise State Football (@BroncoSportsFB) November 21, 2021
The Broncos are averaging 190.7 yards per game rushing during their winning streak. Holani is coming off three straight 100-yard rushing performances, including a season-high 117 yards in the Broncos’ win at Fresno State. He posted 114 yards on 14 carries and Boise State put up a season-high 239 rushing yards in its 37-0 win over New Mexico last Saturday.
Now, Holani and Boise State will face a significantly more stout opponent in San Diego State. The Aztecs’ 3-3-5 defense is led up front by 270-pound junior Cameron Thomas — a two-time first-team All-Mountain West pick who leads the conference with 18 tackles for loss this season. He’s also tied with Nevada’s Tristan Nichols for the conference lead with 9.5 sacks.
If Thomas and Co. can slow down Holani, the home team should be able to take care of business. But if the Broncos can get loose on the ground again, Boise State will bust up the Aztecs’ hopes of victory.
Breakfast in Carson
Typically, early start times for West Coach teams occur outside the region. But the 9 am local time kick may have an effect on this one. Of course, this deep into the season, experience should not be a factor. But the team with less of it may be at a disadvantage – and that means Boise State could be in trouble.
Bonita Vista Alumni Greg Bell with his first Rushing TD of the season for San Diego State ⚫️🔴 pic.twitter.com/vOliPpWzD1
— San Diego Football (@Daygofootball) September 5, 2021
San Diego State running back Greg Bell is one of 32 seniors that will be honored Friday. He anchors a rushing offense that ranks No. 3 in the Mountain West with 184.2 yards on the ground per game. Individually, Bell ranks fourth in the conference with 907 rushing yards on the season and leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns.
The Broncos’ rush defense has improved tremendously. After giving up an average of 196.3 yards through the season’s first seven games, the unit has surrendered just 99.5 yards over the past four.
Ultimately, this one should be a close one. In that scenario, give me the home dog.
- The Pick: San Diego State +2.5 (-110)