San Diego State vs. South Alabama Prediction, Game Preview

    San Diego State vs. South Alabama prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night's matchup between the Aztecs and Jaguars.

    September 29, 2016

    San Diego State vs. South Alabama prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Aztecs and Jaguars.


    When: Saturday, Oct. 1 – 8:00 p.m. ET
    Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
    TV Broadcast: ESPNEWS, Watch ESPN

    Rocky Long’s team comes into this one at 3-0. The Aztecs opened the season by shutting out New Hampshire, 31-0. Then, after a 45-40 victory over Cal, San Diego State went on the road and brought down Northern Illinois, 42-28. With an early bye week in Week 4, the Aztecs will now vist South Alabama.

    The Jaguars, unlike San Diego State, come into this matchup with a couple of blemishes on their record. But they do have something the Aztecs don’t. They have a win over an SEC school. To open the season, South Alabama went into Starkville, Mississippi and beat Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State Bulldogs, 21-20. After back-to-back losses to Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette, Joey Jones’ team hosted Nicholls State and won, 41-40.

    The all-time series between San Diego State and South Alabama only has one chapter to it so far, and that certainly didn’t go in favor of the Aztecs. The Jaguars took that first meeting last year, 34-27. If San Diego State can win, though, it would be its first 4-0 start since 1981.

    What To Know About San Diego State

    The first thing to know about the Aztecs is they’re not afraid to put the ball in the hands of Donnel Pumphrey. Their star running back is averaging 8.2 yards per carry and has rushed for 599 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season. He broke Marshall Faulk’s school rushing record for yards in a career. Faulk posted a mark of 4,589 rushing yards, and two weeks ago, Pumphrey surpassed that by torching Cal for 281 rushing yards. He needs six rushing touchdowns to break Faulk’s school record for rushing touchdowns, too. With Rashaad Penny helping change the pace in the backfield, San Diego Stat relies on Christian Chapman to balance out the offense through the air. The quarterback has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 538 yards and six touchdowns.

    What to Know About South Alabama

    The Jaguars offense operates a little differently. Quarterback Dallas Davis has completed 58.1 percent of his passes but he’s attempted more than twice the amount of throws Chapman has. Davis has thrown for 1,130 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. South Alabama has four players with double-digit receptions so far, but Davis’ favorite target has been tight end Gerald Everett, who’s reeled in 21 grabs for 290 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars haven’t had a ton of success running the ball, but they do have two options in the backfield with Xavier Johnson and Tyreis Thomas, who have combined for 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

    Advantages

    Offense: San Diego State – It’s plain and simple. Pumphrey is that good, and he’s not the only reason why the Aztecs get the nod, but he’s a big part of it. When you break a record set by Marshall Faulk, you tend to gain a lot of respect.

    Defense: San Diego State – The Aztecs are ranked No. 53 in total defense compared to South Alabama’s No. 71 ranking. San Diego State Linebacker Calvin Munson helps give the Aztecs the edge because he has racked up 34 total tackles with 3.5 being for loss.

    Special Teams: San Diego State – The Aztecs have used three players in kick return situations. Penny has returned one for a 100-yard touchdown. But Quest Truxton and Juwan Washington also have the potential to break free.

    Coaching: San Diego State – This has to go to coach Long. He led the Aztecs to a conference title last year. The guy knows what he’s doing.

    Matchup To Watch

    Donnel Pumphrey vs. South Alabama front seven

    If he gets going, it’s over. There isn’t too much to say after that. Pumphrey is explosive, and if the Aztecs give him the touches he needs early on, he’ll find a rhythm and gash the Jaguars. South Alabama will need to maintain gap control, mix up their stunts and blitz packages, and force Pumphrey to stay between the tackles. The South Alabama linebackers need to get off their blocks quickly because if Pumphrey sees daylight, he’s not being caught. With his acceleration and vision, he’s a home run threat every time he touches the ball. And with his cutback ability, the Jaguars have to flow with the ball down the line and lay a couple of big hits on him to get in his head.

    Betting Odds

    Spread: San Diego State – 19
    Over/Under: 51

    San Diego State vs. South Alabama Prediction

    Pumphrey is about to run through, over and around the South Alabama defense. The Jaguars aren’t ready for his speed and electric running style. Pumphrey will get the Aztecs on the board early in the first quarter, and it will only get worse for South Alabama. Chapman will space the ball out and provide a bit of an aerial attack, but he’ll also get Pumphrey involved in the passing game with a few drag routes and some screen passes. The Aztecs will get those big linemen out and running to create some room for Pumphrey on the edge. San Diego State will go up by three possessions by halftime and will cruise to an easy victory over the Jags.

    San Diego State vs. South Alabama Score Prediction: San Diego State 42, South Alabama 18

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 5

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