With Utah on deck next week, TCU travels to San Diego State to face the upstart Aztecs.
Could TCU, on the verge of receiving a BCS berth for the first time, actually falter against San Diego State?
The concern is more valid that it might appear at first glance.
Tradition at San Diego State?
San Diego State actually has a pretty impressive football history, being one of the first schools to utilize an aggressive vertical passing game. The Aztecs were the kings of the long ball, pioneers in the passing game.
During the era of Don "Air" Coryell from 1961 to 1972, San Diego State won 84 percent of their games.
San Diego State experienced continued success in the 1970s, finishing in the final Coaches' Poll top 20 three different seasons.
While the '80s were generally a period of decline for the Aztecs, they had one successful season in 1986, winning the WAC conference and losing by a point to Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.
The Marshall Faulk era gave San Diego State another good season in 1991.
San Diego State was generally competitive during the 1990s but never extremely successful under Ted Tollner, whose tenure ended after his third consecutive losing season in 2001.
The Tom Craft era featured bad teams that almost got there, especially with near misses at Michigan (2004, 21-24) and Ohio State (2003, 13-16).
The three years of the Chuck Long era made the Craft era look great in comparison, though the Aztecs did have close losses at Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
San Diego State has continued to make serious efforts to become competitive and has all the potential in the world.
San Diego is a beautiful season with great year-round weather.
It is a talent-rich region, although the best players end up at Pac-10 schools. The Aztecs are well represented in the NFL.
The Aztecs would be better served by having an on-campus stadium, but that will only happen if the Chargers move to LA.
A Building Program
San Diego State showed that it was going to continue to make a strong move to improve with the offseason hire of Brady Hoke.
Hoke, coming off a very success season at Ball State, brought in former New Mexico head coach Rocky Long as defensive coordinator and has an excellent staff for a program that has been down for so long.
The Aztecs have improved on both offense and defense and are looking to go bowling for the first time since 1998.
The Aztecs are coming off back-to-back conference wins over Colorado State and New Mexico.
On offense, San Diego State has returned to its roots and is airing the ball out, ranking No. 19 in the country in passing under offensive coordinator Al Borges.
QB Ryan Lindley has already thrown for over 2,000 yards on the season.
On defense, the Aztecs have implemented Long's unorthodox 3-3-5 system to bring the formerly inept defense (ranked No. 113 in 2008) to a competitive level (ranked No. 52 in total defense).
The Aztecs are really a year or two away from challenging for upper-tier status in the Mountain West Conference, but look for improvements to continue.
TCU is one of the most dominating teams in college football on both sides of the ball. Ranked No. 1 in net yards, TCU has taken on top offenses and defenses on the road.
TCU's No. 1 defense, while inexperienced to start the season, has really started to dominate opponents, allowing just 13 points in the last three games.
On the season, TCU's opponents have averaged 28 points per game but less than 10 points against TCU.
This is TCU's fifth trip to San Diego over the last five years, winning all the previous trips, including last year's remarkable bowl game versus Boise State.
The TCU players have expressed great appreciation for the field and the stadium and look to perform above expectations, even with the upcoming battle with Utah.
TCU 44, San Diego State 7
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