BYU Faces SDSU in Hoke's First Big Test

Eric GomezAnalyst IOctober 17, 2009

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:   Ryan Lindley #14 of the San Diego State Aztecs looks to pass the ball during the game against the UCLA Bruins at The Rose Bowl on September 5, 2009 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Next Saturday, the 18th ranked BYU Cougars will roll into town to face the San Diego State Aztecs in Brady Hoke's first rivalry game as head coach of the school.

Since the start of the decade, this is a matchup that the Aztecs have only won twice, a 16-15 squeaker in 2000 and a 31-10 upset in 2005. In every other game, BYU has scored at least 34 points and won the game by an average of 26 points.

In last season's 41-12 thrashing, SDSU started the game by giving up 27 unanswered points and gave up more than 400 yards of total offense. The Aztecs would finish that season 2-10, resulting in the firing of Chuck Long and the eventual appointment of Hoke.

This season, the outlook doesn't seem to forecast something all too different. The Aztecs, while showing some promise and giving established teams like UCLA a fight this year, are young, inexperienced, and still under-talented when compared to the Cougars.

If the Aztecs hope to have a chance in this one, they must start fast and cut down on unforced errors.

In last year's game, the Aztecs' first seven drives amounted to five punts, an interception, and a fumble before finally getting on the board (with a field goal) at the conclusion of their eighth drive.

By then, of course, it was too little, too late.

Another point of interest is, of course, to find a way to slow down Redshirt JR QB Max Hall. In their last meeting, Hall carved up the Aztec secondary, going 25-30 for 317 yards and three touchdowns.

The 5-1 Cougars suffered a humbling loss against Florida State earlier in the season which has all but dashed their hopes for a national championship bid, however, their effort to obtain the MWC crown is alive and well, and also their best hope to make a significant bowl game, which makes this matchup all the more important.

An upset for 2-3 San Diego State would mean a huge boost for Brady Hoke's squad and a grand injection in confidence for Aztec players, alumni and fans.

When and Where:  Qualcomm Stadium, Oct. 17th @ 3:00 PM

The Pick:  BYU, 31-16

Elsewhere in the MWC (picks in italics ): Wyoming @  Air Force,  Colorado St. @  TCU, UNLV  @ Utah, New Mexico has a bye. So I pick the bye .