San Diego State faces a substantial Mountain West test Saturday when they match their perfect record against Air Force, with just one loss, on the road.
The No. 22/21 Aztecs (6-0) will play the Falcons (6-1), who are enjoying a four-game win streak, at 4 p.m. in Colorado Springs.
“This is definitely our biggest challenge of the year,” head coach Brady Hoke said.
Preseason, both teams were picked to finish third in their respective MW division, but both are now in a position to challenge for division titles. SDSU, along with Nevada, is one of two unbeaten teams in league play in the West, while Air Force has a league-high three conference victories.
San Diego State and Air Force also are two of five teams in the nation – with the likes of Oregon State and UCLA – that rank among the top 20 nationally in both rushing offense and rushing defense.
Defense is the strength for the Aztecs – they are first in rushing defense, but 19th in rushing offense. The Falcons, though, are the other side of the coin – first in rushing offense and 10th in rushing defense.
Hoke called a fast start “really important” – SDSU will start Lucas Johnson at quarterback while trying to do so –as Air Force has outscored opponents by factor of four in the 1st quarter. As far as facing the Falcons’ defense, wide receiver Jesse Matthews called them “a tough group of guys.”
“We have to prepare accordingly,” the junior added.
San Diego State and Air Force will meet for the 37th time, with the academy owning a 19-17 advantage. The Aztecs, though, have won the last eight games between the schools.
Georgia tops both polls.