“Weekend Ahead-Crossroads & Ambushes”
Friday Night Football…beware of an ambush in Logan, Utah.
Sunday Afternoon Football…a crossroads game in Denver.
So San Diego State, on a roll, takes a (6-1) record on the road, heading into Utah State this evening. The Aztecs program dominates Mountain West Conference football, but this won’t be a walk in the park.
As good as the SDSU defense is, this Aggies team is tougher than their up and down record (3-4) shows.
The Red & Black are putting up awesome numbers on defense and on the ground on offense.
SDSU is ranked 6th in the nation in total defense, in a world where everyone puts up 400-yards a game on Saturday’s. State is giving up (285) yards a game.
Even more impressive is what they have done in the midst of this 3-game winning streak in the conference. They are allowing (182Y) per game.
Think about that. They’ve allowed 1-touchdown in the last 3-games. They’ve allowed teams to get inside the 20-yard line just twice in the last 3-games. Add in 5-sacks, recorded 16-tackles for losses and have 2-takeaways.
And of course, the Aztecs are led by the leading rusher in the nation, DJ Pumphrey. with (1,391Y) rushing and receiving.
But Utah State is deceiving. The Aggies are averaging an impressive (390Y) per outing, and is a team that pounds the ball, makes you stop QB-Kent Myers run and throw scheme, and does go down the field too.
And this is a physcial U-tag defense, that may load the box, take Pumphrey’s big play ability out of the playbook, make it a low scoring game, and take their chances they can bust a play or get a turnover.
This is no pushover patsy, not up there, where the Aggies are (25-4) at home the last five years.
Big challenge for State, not to become a big upset victim.
On Sunday, it’s the beginning of a playoff push, or the end of their playoff hopes, when the Chargers play the Broncos.
Beating Denver without its head coach and with a rusty Trevor Siemian at quarterback two weeks ago was one thing, but now you have a fired up Siemian, coming off a big game, with Gary Kubiak back orchestrating everything on the sidelines.
Philip Rivers has never wilted in hostile conditions. He is (6-5) vs the Broncos, eventhough the Chargers are (9-25) in Denver going back to the mid-1980s-Dan Fouts era.
The Broncos are so tough at home, (34-7) the last 4-seasons, and they do get that crowd amped up.
Defense does it in Denver, and Wade Phillips does it well.
The Broncos lead the league in tons of categories when the other guy has the ball. Giving up just (285Y) per game, think about that stat is this high octane NFL.
They’re giving up just (175Y) an outing thru the air, in this era of great quarterbacks. Opposing QBs are completing just 55% of their passes against the guys wearing Orange.
Von Miller and his friends have 22-sacks, 62-hits on quarterbacks, and 13-takeaways in 7-games.
Yes the Chargers are dynamic thru the air, but Rivers has two ailing receivers right now in Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams, all that’s left of his wide out corps.
Take away 4-big runs by Melvin Gordon this season, and the rest of the time he is averaging 2.7-yards per carry, behind an offensive line that does not run block well.
The Chargers get superb work out of Josh Lambo, with a league leading 17-field goals. The offense leads the NFL, getting to the red zone 33-times this year, and getting 16-TDs in those trips.
But the problem remains the defense, though much more aggressive, thank you Joey Bosa, is still giving up 366-a game, and still gets gashed by the run, and opposing QB’s hit on 64% of their passes.
Sunday is a day the Chargers have to win, because the rest of the schedule gets easier if they come home (4-4). A loss sends them to (3-5) and behind virtually everyone in tie breakers.
The Aztecs find a way to win.
The Chargers have to find a way not to lose in a tough place to play.
Crossroads for one. Not allowing an ambush for the other.