The 19th-ranked Stanford Cardinal, coming off a 42-24 beating at the hands of USC, will face off against the San Diego Aztecs this Saturday. The game starts at 10:30 PM EST from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, with the game being shown on the CBS Sports Network.
This is a matchup of two teams attempting to replace the most impressive running back in school history. Stanford is experiencing life without first-round pick Christian McCaffrey, and San Diego State is now without the record-breaking Donnell Pumphrey.
But Bryce Love and Rashaad Penny have done serious damage since taking over those roles.
Despite their loss to the Trojans, Stanford is still a prime contender to make the Pac 12 championship. they’re going to need their passing defense to be better than it was against Sam Darnold last weekend if they are to make it. They also need a boost from QB Keller Chryst, who’s looked adequate but rarely elite.
For the Aztecs, they’re still the class of the MWC’s west division, and have brought back over half the starters from one of 2016’s best defenses. They’ve absolutely stifled the run their first two games, with opponents only having 101 yards on 58 carries.
Stanford is still 9.5-point favorites and climbing.
Bryce Love is a superstar in the making. Him going head-to-head with a run-squashing D like San Diego State’s is a matchup worth watching. Meanwhile, Penny will have to get past a pretty competent front seven of Stanford.
While both RBs will find their share of holes, the question must be asked whether they have anything to complement them on the offensive side of the ball. Chryst can manage and make some crucial throws down the homestretch of games. It’s hard to tell if the Aztecs QB, Christian Chapman, can do the same.
They really haven’t needed him to step up in the first two games, but he wasn’t sharp (9-18, 73 yards) against Arizona State. And that was the team with the worst passing defense in the FBS last year.
So it’s safe to say the Aztecs are one-dimensional, and that can be exploited. Despite San Diego State’s 30-20 win at Arizona State turning a few heads, the Sun Devils aren’t a good Pac-12 measuring stick. A team returning four of five offensive line starters and all four starting linebackers may be too much of one. A defense loaded with experience will know all their attention must key on Penny, which in turn will make Chapman have to make throws he’s not yet equipped to complete.
San Diego State likely won’t change their game plan even if they are trailing by double-digits early on. It’s difficult leaning toward Stanford by over 9.5 then, since the Aztecs have incredible time-of-possession numbers and a workhorse with over 10 yards per-carry.
But Stanford sits at 8-3 ATS in their last 11 away games. They’re also a remarkable 11 out of their last 13 ATS after a loss. They know how to bounce back from defeats (aside from that Washington-Washington State double whammy last season). It is worth noting San Diego State is 6-1 ATS after each of their last seven win, but they also have a poor recent history in September, with a 2-8-1 mark ATS in their last 11 games in the ninth month.
Stanford will have little chance for a blowout considering San Diego St. has the ball for extended periods of time. But they’ve proven to be road warriors and will be so once more with a two-touchdown win.