UCLA was a big challenge for San Diego State, but as a nationally ranked team, Oregon State looms even larger.
And the Aztecs, coming off a 35-10 defeat at the hands of the Bruins, need to re-group to contend as they hit the road to face the No. 16/17 Beavers (2-0) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
SDSU (2-1) controlled the clock against UCLA – which entered the AP Top 25 after last week’s win – but that’s about the best that can be said.
The Aztecs dropped two passes in the end zone, including one that was intercepted, and were 0-for-2 inside the red zone. San Diego State also allowed seven plays of 20-plus yards, including five passes and two rushes, and was out-gained overall 550 yards to 259.
“When you look at time of possession, you don’t have the points that you would expect out of it,” head coach Brady Hoke said. “We gave up way too many big plays defensively, and that’s due to not tackling. That’s due to not leveraging the ball, as well.”
Oregon State, which opened the season with a commanding win over another Mountain West team, San Jose State, boasts two offensive powers in quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and running back Damien Martinez.
Of Uiagalelei, defensive lineman Garrett Fountain said, “He’s a tough guy that can sit in
the pocket and make throws and so we have to put some pressure on him. He hasn’t had a lot of pressure all year, so we have to get some turnovers and get after him.”
As for Martinez, Hoke said, “He’s not afraid to put it down and run through you.”
On the plus side for San Diego State, the team forced two more turnovers and have eight through three games, to tie with Liberty for the most in FBS play.
SDSU also leads the Mountain West in interceptions (6, 2nd in FBS) and is tied for the lead in fumble recoveries (2, T-16th in FBS). Linebacker Zyrus Fiaseu has both of those recoveries.
Fiaseu is coming off a monster game against UCLA. After entering the game with six tackles on the season, he finished with seven in the first half and a career-high 12 for the game, tripling his previous high. He also forced his first two fumbles, tying a SDSU single-game record.
San Diego State is meeting the Beavers for the first time since facing off in consecutive seasons a decade ago. The Aztecs kept it close in 2013, losing 34-30, but next year, the Beavers crushed them, 28-7.
Also of note: Hoke was an assistant coach at Oregon State from 1989-94. His assignments included coaching the defensive line and the inside linebackers.