They went into the San Jose State game last season in the same position – the Spartans were undefeated too – only to fall apart in the final quarter, undone by turnovers.
Naturally, to prepare for this weekend’s rematch, head coach Brady Hoke reviewed film from the 28-17 loss. Obviously, he didn’t enjoy it.
“It wasn’t any fun, I guarantee you that,” he said.
The Aztecs, off to just their second 5-0 start since 1975, travel north to face the defending Mountain West champions at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Spartans though are 3-3 this year and coming off a 32-14 loss at Colorado State.
Nonetheless, center Alama Uluave admits that the San Jose State game “has burned in our mind.” Linebacker Caden McDonald said simply “we want to get back at them.”
To do so, San Diego State had to prepare for two quarterbacks, Nick Nash, and perhaps Nick Starkel, if he’s well enough to return, along with tight end Derrick Deese Jr.
Hoke said the team will “keep working on both” Nash and Starkel. As for Deese, the coach said, “we have to make sure we know where he is when we take every snap.”
The Spartans, meanwhile, will have to deal with the Aztecs’ rushing skills – on both sides of the ball. Nationally, they rank second on rushing defense, and 10th in rushing offense.
The latter is a point of pride for Uluave.
“I take full credit for all the rushing yards and all the rushing touchdowns that we get,” the senior said. “It’s something I pride myself in and I’m sure my brothers do too.”