On Saturday the Wyoming Cowboys will host the San Diego State Aztecs for the Mountain West championship. The two have previous met this season with Wyoming eeking out a one point win over the Aztecs in Laramie.
On Saturday the two will face off again for a lot more at stake. Both teams are coming off of disappointing week 12 losses and looking to rebound and win the championship. Wyoming was defeated by New Mexico 56-35 in Albuquerque this past Saturday. San Diego State was defeated by Colorado State 63-31.
Looking at the match-up between the two teams there are a few similarities that have gotten them to Saturday. Wyoming is the top ranking team in the Mountain West in scoring offense, while San Diego State is the top ranking team in total defense. Below we’ll look at how the teams match-up with one another and what possible outcome we could see.
SDSU Record: 9-3 (6-2)
Wyoming Record: 8-4 (6-2)
The Aztecs have losses this season to South Alabama, Wyoming and Colorado State. The loss to South Alabama early in the season seems to be a real head scratcher even still, as the Jaguars finished 5-6 in the Sun Belt Conference. Wyoming has losses to Nebraska, Eastern Michigan, UNLV, and New Mexico. For Wyoming the loss to Eastern Michigan seems to be a puzzler, especially since the Cowboys had a late lead in that game. The losses to New Mexico and UNLV are basically inexplicable. Against common opponents both teams defeated Nevada and Utah State.
SDSU Sagarin Ranking: 51 (SOS 106)
Wyoming Sagarin Ranking: 80 (SOS 83)
The Sagarin rankings may or may not mean anything, but some interesting rankings nonetheless as they rank all division one football teams (FBS and FCS). The teams are not that far a part in the rankings. It’s interesting that San Diego State has a strength of schedule of 106. That has to chalk up to the West division of the conference being considerably weaker than the Mountain division. Five of the six West division teams are ranked 118 and below. Fresno State is the lowest at 150, the eighth lowest FBS team.
SDSU Championships: 16
Wyoming Championships: 14
Wyoming has won 14 conference championships (I did not include division championships in this). The most recent being 1993 when they were WAC co-champions. The Cowboys won seven WAC championships and seven Mountain States Conference championships. The Aztecs have won 16 championships, their most recent being the 2015 Mountain West championship. They are two time MWC champions, one time WAC champions, five time Big West champions, and eight time California Collegiate Athletic Association champions.
SDSU Offense: 60th (426 YPG)
Wyoming Offense: 45th (447 YPG)
These two offenses are good Mountain West offenses. Both teams take different approaches to their offenses. The Aztecs prefer to run the ball to passing. When you have a running backs like Donnel Pumphrey, Juwan Washington, and Rashaad Penny you can get away with doing that. Wyoming is a pro-style balanced offense that can beat you through the air or on the ground. Quarterback Josh Allen can get it done with his arm and his feet. Running back Brian Hill, like Pumphrey, is one of the top rushers in the country this season.
SDSU Rushing Offense: 7th (3311 yards)
Wyoming Rushing Offense: 29th (2615 yards)
Both of these football teams are good at rushing the football. San Diego State features one of the top rushing attacks in the country, despite the fact they are not a triple option offense. The Aztecs can beat you with three different running backs. All of the backs are skilled at being able to pick up the load if one of the other backs is having a down night. Game planning for all three is a must. Wyoming, on the other hand, is led by Brian Hill. The junior is the fourth ranked rusher in the country (two spots behind Pumphrey). If Hill and the other backs keep pace this will be the second consecutive year that Hill will finish in the top 10 nationally in rushing yards. Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen will also move the ball with his feet if he needs to, and is a very good rusher.
SDSU Defense: 11th (318 YPG)
Wyoming Defense: 116th (475 YPG)
The Wyoming defense has taken its lumps the last few weeks, being absolutely abused by New Mexico and UNLV on the road. The Cowboys seem to play significantly better at home. Rushing quarterbacks have certainly had their number the last few weeks, but there probably won’t be much need to worry about that with Christian Chapman. San Diego State, meanwhile, has one of the top defenses in the country where they rank eleventh. The Aztecs have a very large upper hand in category and could be a legitimate difference maker.
SDSU Rushing Defense: 14th (1360 yards)
Wyoming Rushing Defense: 89th (2393 yards)
Another lopsided stat here in favor of the Aztecs. The Aztec rushing defense has been good this year, finishing the regular season 14th in the country. Wyoming on the other hand, not as good. The last three weeks have certainly not helped them statistically as New Mexico rushed for 568 yards against the Cowboys and UNLV piled up 401 yards. For those keeping score at home, that’s significant. In their head to head match-up previously in the season Wyoming rushed for 205 yards on the Aztecs, while the Aztecs replied with 178 yards.
San Diego State is a seven point favorite in this game. I don’t know how unreasonable that prediction is given both teams are coming off pretty bad losses last weekend and the fact that the Aztecs are playing this game on the road in some pretty iffy conditions. The temperature is looking like a high of 27 in Laramie, with the temps dropping by the time the 5:45pm kickoff happens. There’s a lot of factors in this game. I think the game will be closer than seven points. Tune into ESPN on Saturday and join Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay as they will be calling the game live from Laramie.