The Boise State Broncos should heed the lessons of the past few weeks.
Every game is critical for Boise State at this juncture. Already having lost to Michigan State in their opening game, the Broncos' only hope for a BCS bowl hinges on winning out for the remainder of the season.
Rutgers, ranked 15th last week, lost to Kent State in Piscataway. The Golden Flashes had never before beaten a ranked opponent.
In Week 8, 21st-ranked Cincinnati lost to Toledo. The Scarlet Knights and Bearcats were both heavily favored, yet upset and as a result fell out of the BCS rankings.
Not only that, but voters will more than likely be unconvinced should Boise State only manage to win its games close. It's not the most logical of ways to judge a team, but since when have college football polls been logical?
If Boise State is to defeat the Aztecs and bolster its BCS credentials, it will need to rely on these three players:
J.C. Percy, LB
The senior is the leading tackler on the Broncos by a country mile. His 39 solo tackles are 14 better than anyone else, and the 70 total tackles are almost twice as much as cornerback Jamar Taylor.
If San Diego State's offense is going to be effective against Boise State, it'll need its running back tandem of sophomore Adam Muema and senior Walter Kazee. Muema has 892 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, with Kazee behind him, running for 644 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a whole, the Aztecs' rushing offense ranks seven in the nation in yards per game.
Percy will need to anchor the Broncos' defense and continue his great play all year in order to rein in Muema and Kazee. If they run wild, then Boise State will be looking at its second loss.
Joe Southwick, QB
The junior quarterback's numbers don't inspire, but his performances have stabilized the Broncos' passing attack. As they rank 79th nationally, it's unlikely Boise State will light up the game through the air.
But the Broncos' passing game could cost them. Southwick has shown that he can be a little accident-prone, as his six interceptions can attest. To Southwick's credit, though, he hasn't thrown more than one interception in a game this season.
Southwick will need to continue being the field general. In almost every case, turnovers play a big part in major upsets.
Demarcus Lawrence, DL
While Percy will likely be causing the most damage, Lawrence is going to be wreaking havoc in the backfield. Although he is a sophomore, this is his first season in Boise, and he's wasted no time in making an impact. His 6.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss are both first on the team.
He missed the game against UNLV for a violation of team rules. Tyler Horn stepped in and did very well, but there's no denying the talent Lawrence has.
The Aztecs are going to rely on sophomore quarterback Adam Dingwell, who replaced senior Ryan Katz when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Dingwell has never had to deal with an atmosphere like the one Bronco Stadium will provide.
It's up to Lawrence to unsettle Dingwell early. If he can do that, Boise State will be able to load the box and stifle the San Diego State running attack.