Mountain West Conference action takes place on Friday night in the Central Valley of California when in-state rivals San Diego State and Fresno State get together. The Bulldogs do actually have some mountain views in the area with the Sierra National Forest nearby, though it is still a little weird to think of San Diego and Fresno in the Mountain West Conference. In any event, this is the game flying under the radar for Friday, but those are often the ones that have the most value. For the fifth time this season, San Diego State is laying a big number.
San Diego State vs. Fresno State College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday October 14, 10:00 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: San Diego State -17.5
It has been a strange year for San Diego State. In a revenge spot against South Alabama, the Aztecs were laying 19.5 points and they had a bye week to prepare. They lost by two touchdowns. Aside from that performance, things have gone just fine for Rocky Long’s team. They are 4-1 straight up and 3-2 against the spread. They have wins over Cal and Northern Illinois on a resume that could have garnered some Group of 5 New Year’s Six consideration if not for that ugly loss to the Jaguars. Fresno State is a program in a state of flux. Tim DeRuyter’s time may be coming to an end, as the Bulldogs simply haven’t been able to bounce back from Derek Carr’s selection in the NFL Draft. They are just 1-5 this season and 2-3 against the spread.
San Diego State Aztecs:
The breakdown of the SDSU offense begins and ends with Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey is having another nice season with 6.9 yards per carry and nine rushing touchdowns. Christian Chapman has completed 63 percent of his passes with an 8/2 TD/INT ratio while having one job – don’t throw the football away. Pumphrey is going to play on Sundays and he’s already destroyed Marshall Faulk’s program record for rushing yards. It’s basically that simple for San Diego State. Run the rock with Pumphrey, mix in Rashaad Penny, and don’t give Chapman a reason to turn the ball over. So far, that blueprint has worked pretty well.
Rocky Long’s unique 3-3-5 defense has thrown some teams for a loop in the past. This season, however, this defense is struggling a little bit. Cal, Northern Illinois, and South Alabama combined for 110 points. The full-season average is just 23.4 points per game, but a shutout of New Hampshire and a stout performance against UNLV last week have aided that number in a big way. The Aztecs have only allowed 315 yards per game and 4.8 yards per play. Injuries are mounting for this group, though. Na’im McGee and Randy Ricks are both out for the season. Alex Barrett separated his shoulder a few weeks back. Be on the lookout for Damontae Kazee, one of the top defensive back prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fresno State Bulldogs:
Fresno State is bad. Redshirt freshman Chason Virgil has completed less than 49 percent of his passes. He has a 9/4 TD/INT ratio somehow, but the Bulldogs have one of the least efficient offenses in the country. It’s Homecoming at Fresno State this weekend, so maybe Derek Carr can sneak onto the field in Virgil’s jersey. When passes are actually completed, the Bulldogs have racked up 13.3 yards per catch and have three receivers with over 400 receiving yards. Dontel James has averaged four yards per carry, but the Bulldogs have run for just 3.5 yards per carry as a team.
Bad offense generally leads to a bad defense. That’s the case here. Fresno State has allowed 36.3 points per game and they have given up 451 yards per contest. Aside from a 31-3 win over Sacramento State, the Bulldogs have allowed 43 to Nebraska, 52 to Toledo, 48 to Tulsa, 45 to UNLV, and 27 to Nevada, who had just returned from a trip to Hawaii. Fresno State has only forced five turnovers this season, so they are not making it easy on the offense. The number that stands out in this game is that Fresno State has allowed 273 rushing yards per game this season and opponents are getting 5.3 yards per carry.
College Football Free Pick: Fresno State +17.5
This is only the third home game for Fresno State. They beat Sacramento State by 28 at home and then covered as a 16-point dog against Tulsa. San Diego State wasn’t all that impressive offensively in last week’s cover over UNLV. They’ve been tasked with covering some big lines this season and it has been a struggle. They covered by a half-point at NIU and lost outright as a 19.5-point favorite at South Alabama. Perception may be higher than reality with the Aztecs.
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