It’s been a mantra all season long for San Diego State – win that 22nd conference championship.
It all comes down to Saturday, when the favored Aztecs (11-1, 7-1 MW) look to claim their first Mountain West championship since 2016 in a clash with Utah State (9-3, 6-2 MW) at noon in Carson, airing on Fox5.
“It’s been due time to stop saying win 22 and actually get it done,” said linebacker Caden McDonald.
No. 19 SDSU will appear in its third MW Championship Game after capturing back-to-back titles in 2015-16. First, they defeated Air Force, 27-24, followed by a 27-24 win over Wyoming.
A win would be historic for the program as well. The 2021 team has won the most regular-season games in program history, and San Diego State can log a 12th win for the first time Saturday.
The team secured its slot in the championship with a stirring comeback against Boise State, while Utah State emerged victorious against New Mexico, but gained the advantage in their division via a tiebreaker – a Sept. 18 win over Air Force.
Utah State, seeking its 13th conference crown, battles for the championship for the second time in its nine years in the MW, as it lost to No. 24 Fresno State in the inaugural game in 2013.
This season, the Aggies excel on the road, where they’ve won six straight, paced by quarterback Logan Bonner. The team is second in the MW and 16th in the nation in total offense at 457.1 yards per game, and 15th in passing offense, at almost 305 years per game.
“He’s smart, he’ll take the hit (and) he’s tough,” coach Brady Hoke said of Bonner. “He’ll get right back up and go at it.”
Yet Utah State also ranks third nationally in tackles for loss, at nearly eight per game.
“They have those ingredients that really make it hard on you (as) an opposing football team,” Hoke said.
As far as Aztec quarterbacks, Hoke appears to be leaning toward Jordon Brookshire over the banged-up Lucas Johnson, whose practice time was limited early this week.
After Brookshire powered last week’s comeback, Hoke said he feels “good about Jordan right now, obviously, but we’ll just wait and see what happens.”
Both teams exceeded pre-season expectations, as the Aztecs were picked to finish third in their division, while the Aggies had been predicted to fall to fifth in theirs.
Nevertheless, SDSU held tight to its goal of making the conference championship game and now a win is within their grasp.
“That’s the goal, it’s been the goal for the last five years and we plan on making it happen,” running back Chance Bell said.