Aztecs defensive lineman Jonah Tavai signals no good after a play review determined that Utah dropped a pass in the end zone in San Diego State’s 33-31 win over Utah. Photo credit: Derrick Tuskan, San Diego State

San Diego State, though on the path to match its best start in decades, has yet to play a complete game of solid football in head coach Brady Hoke’s eyes.

“We’ve got to play better for 60 minutes and we haven’t done that,” he said. “That’s our goal, so we’ve got to get ourselves back to it.”

They’ll have another chance to achieve it at 12:30 p.m. Saturday when the Aztecs face Towson, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, at their temporary home in Carson.

The Tigers (1-2), Hoke said, remind him of Mountain West foe Wyoming on offense due to their running game and their versatility.

“Number one is their power run game and their backs,” he said. “It’s not just one guy. They’ve got some guys who are big, they’re physical.”

Last Saturday, San Diego State outpaced Utah – a team ranked as high as No. 21 in the AP Top 25 this season –33-31, in triple overtime to improve to 3-0.

That’s the Aztecs’ best start since 2017, when the team opened with a 6-0 record before finishing with a 10-3 mark. SDSU looks Saturday to win its first four games for just the second time in the last 40 years.

San Diego State is making a move toward the major top 25 polls. The Aztecs have 41 points in the USA Today/Coaches Poll this week, the 32nd-highest total on the list. SDSU tied for 33rd in the AP Top 25 with 16 points.

SDSU last appeared in the AP poll in 2019.  

One big reason – their defense. Senior linebacker Segun Olubi, for instance, paced the Aztec defense against Utah with a career-high eight tackles and added two quarterback hurries. He already has more stops this season, 17, than all of last season.

Senior defensive tackle Jonah Tavai calls their effort “number one over everything.”

“But our goal is to play harder and play longer than those across the ball from us. It’s made the difference in a lot of games for us,” Tavai said.

San Diego State is 5-1 at its temporary home at Dignity Health Sports Park while crews continue work on the new stadium in Mission Valley. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on the Stadium network, with live streaming available.

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