• Head Coach Brady Hoke’s Aztecs (7-1 MW, 11-1 overall) won the West Division by beating Boise State 27-16
  • Utah State (6-2 MWC, 9-3 overall) won the Mountain division after an 8-year drought and finished 6-0 on the road for the first time in program history.
  • Last year, the Utah State Aggies were 1-5 but turned things around this year under new Head Coach Blake Anderson, who looks to finish the season with a bowl game win.

Utah State vs San Diego State Matchup at a Glance

Utah State Preview: Anderson hopes for 3rd Gatorade bath

Blake Anderson said before the season began his team would win games people don’t expect them to win. The first-year head coach was showered with two separate Gatorade baths at the end of their 35-10 win over New Mexico.

The Aggies needed San Diego State to beat Boise State in order for their win over New Mexico to mean anything. SDS was losing 16-3 in the second half so offs of a bowl game weren’t looking good at that point. But San Diego State’s backup QB, Jordon Brookshire, scored 24 points in just nine minutes to earn a come-from-behind 27-16 win. And, the Aggies cheered.

Saturday’s game will be the Aggies 10th bowl game and they will be looking for their first bowl game victory. Their current bowl record stands at a dismal 9-0. 

San Diego State Preview: Tied Bowl Game Record on the Line

Other than when they were tricked by Fresno State on the night before Halloween, the Aztecs of San Diego State have won every game this season. They eked out a two-point home victory against the only top-25 team they faced, winning over #16 Utah 33-31.

Home field advantage is not what it should be for the Aztecs. They have played all their 2021 home games in the 27,000 seat Dignity Health Sports Park because of construction next to their stadium. The stadium they have played in since 1967 is being replaced with a 35,000-seat state-of-the-art multipurpose stadium.

This matchup represents the 11th straight bowl game appearance by the Aztecs. They have a 5-5 record in their last 10 bowl games. Will the neutral site tie-breaker end in a tie?

Odds & Free Betting Analysis for This College Football Game

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San Diego State should win and cover in this bowl game played in their backyard. The Aztecs have been consistently strong this year, winning more games (11-1) than Utah State (9-3). San Diego State should have more fans since they are playing near the SDSU campus. Fans in the seats add points on the board, usually.

While it’s possible this could be the year that Utah State breaks it’s oh-for bowl record, it should be noted their history of losing bowl games stretches back to their 20-0 loss to San Jose State, in 1947. They have not won a bowl game. Ever! It seems unlikely 74 years of bowl game losses will stretch to at least 75 years after Saturday’s game ends.

The secret that ensures a home win for San Diego State is not really a well-kept secret. Their not-so-secret weapon is their kicker, Matt Araiza. He has an 83 percent touchback rate, which puts him in the top-10 among kickers with at least 40 kickoffs. Araiza has punted over 80 yards more than once, has at least six punts longer than 70 yards, and holds the NCAA record with 15 punts over 60 yards. 

San Diego State’s kicker averages 363 yards in punts per game. He averages 52 yards per punt. Araiza is almost automatic about ensuring touchbacks on kickoffs because his kicks travel so far. Depriving opponents of a chance to have their special teams unit score, or put them in scoring position, improves the odds for a San Diego State win. 

Besides taking away the possibility of kickoff returns for touchdowns and long drives after SDS punts, having a kicker who can reliably punch in field goals longer than 50 yards helps most Aztec drives end with more points on the board. ESPN gushed over the kid and a sportswriter for the San Diego Tribune said Araiza deserves to win the Heisman trophy.  

Utah State vs San Diego State Pick: San Diego State

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