Tag Archives: San Jose State Spartans

The Mountain West’s Best Football Games of 2016

The Mountain West has taken quite the fall from grace. Just ten years ago things looked great, as it was the dominant non-BCS conference. With TCU and Boise State challenging for BCS title appearances, and Utah and BYU very solid programs as well, there were years the MWC was better than some BCS conferences.

Now, Boise State is the only of those four teams still around, and even the Broncos have fallen back to the pack with former coach Chris Petersen now at Washington. It has left a less interesting conference, albeit one that is much more competitive. San Diego State ran away with it in 2015. Will that change this fall? Here are the ten games that will shape the Mountain West in 2016.

10. Fresno State @ Nebraska (Saturday, September 3)

Fresno State wasn’t very good last year, but Nebraska hasn’t exactly been dominating since joining the Big Ten, either. It’s a long shot, but the Bulldogs would earn the Mountain West a huge amount of respect if they can knock off the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on the season’s opening weekend.

9. Utah State @ Boise State (Saturday, October 1)

The unfortunate Chuckie Keeton era is over at Utah State, but replacing him won’t be the Aggies biggest issue. Kent Myers played a good chunk of the season last year and finished with 16 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. He’ll lead an offense with eight starters returning against Boise State in a game between two teams competing for a conference title bid.

8. Nevada @ San Jose State (Saturday, October 15)

These were the only two teams besides San Diego State to even finish .500 in their division last year. The winner of this one will later play the Aztecs with a spot in the conference championship game likely on the line.

7. San Diego State @ Northern Illinois (Saturday, September 17)

Northern Illinois has been the class of the MAC recently, and San Diego State rolled through the Mountain West last year. It may not mean much to most of the country, but this game is for bragging rights over the strength of Group of Five conferences.

6. Boise State @ Oregon State (Saturday, September 24)

Boise State, playing its second consecutive Pac-12 team, gets a bye before this one. The Broncos might be favored and will look for a win to provide the team some momentum and confidence heading into its conference slate.

5. California @ San Diego State (Saturday, September 10)

This is one of the bigger non-conference games among Mountain West teams. The Aztecs will bring in the nation’s second-longest winning streak and look to avenge last year’s 35-7 loss to Cal. It will be much easier with departed Cal quarterback Jared Goff playing on Sundays.

4. Washington State @ Boise State (Saturday, September 10)

Boise State hasn’t been the same team in the past few years that it was when Chris Petersen had them rolling, but the Broncos should improve from their four losses a year ago under third-year coach Bryan Harsin. The Broncos knocked off the Washington Huskies last year and will look to do the same against the Huskies’ rival.

3. San Diego State @ Fresno State (Saturday, October 15)

This in-state battle for San Diego State is against one of the few teams to play them close in 2015. The Bulldogs played a close-ish 21-7 game against the Aztecs and now get them at home. With SDSU’s defense not as dominant as a year ago, Fresno could pull the upset.

2. Nevada @ Hawaii (Saturday, October 1)

Hawaii was pretty dreadful last year and didn’t notch a conference win. They return 17 starters this year though so that streak should end at some point. Will it here? If a Nevada team looking to compete for a conference title game spot overlooks the Warriors, they could be in for a long trip back from the islands.

1. San Diego State @ Nevada (Saturday, November 12)

San Diego State dominated the Mountain West last year, allowing just 90 points in eight conference games. Nevada should have a good offense, but its defense will have to improve after giving up 320 yards rushing to the Aztecs in this match-up last year.

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Featured image courtesy Nathan Rupert

Another Excessive Bowl Season Come and Gone

With the college football championship taking place more than a week after New Year’s Day, the college football bowl season now extends for almost a month. This year the first bowl game took place all the way back on December 19th, with the Alabama-Clemson classic closing things up just a week and a half ago. While this stretch seemingly lasts forever, it always goes by in the blink of an eye. That leaves us in our current situation, 7+ long months before the return of collegiate football action.

That gives us plenty of time to look back, so what things stood out from the past bowl season? The first is the aforementioned length of it. It’s way too long, and there are way too many bowl games. Part of the problem with the length of it is that teams end up having three or four weeks after the end of the regular season before their bowl game. I’m sure coaches love this because it gives them extra practice time with players who will be returning the following year. As a fan however, it basically kills any momentum the regular season had. This goes for regular bowls and the college football playoff as well.

I’m guessing here, but I would think the majority of college football fans are NFL fans as well. College football has a leg up through November in the sense that every week matters much more compared to the NFL. Then we get a nice culmination of the season with conference championships (and obviously the announcement of the college football playoff teams). But then what? Two weeks of nothing, followed by a week of bowls where most people are more concerned with holiday plans than planning their schedule around some meaningless bowl game. On top of that, college football puts itself on the back-burner for those 2-3 weeks and gives football fans the opportunity to fully shift their focus to the NFL and its playoff push.

There are also an insane number of bowl games. My problem with this is two-fold. One, the NCAA always tries to shove the idea of “student-athlete” down our throats. Yet they’re perfectly ok with adding new bowl games year after year so they can make even more money off these players. As if that weren’t enough, most of these low-tier bowl games are mid-to-end December when most of the players are dealing with finals and/or wishing they could make it home for the holidays. But I’m sure the NCAA is concerned with them being students first.

The other problem with the sheer number of bowl games is that there aren’t enough worthy teams to fill them. That was on display this year when three 5-7 teams were awarded bowl spots. And just because all three of those teams won their bowl games does not mean they were worthy. Nebraska beat a UCLA team that had playoff aspirations before the year started and clearly wasn’t as motivated. Minnesota beat a Central Michigan team that was only 7-5 in the MAC. San Jose State threw for 89 yards against a 6-6 Georgia State team that was only 4th in the Sun Belt and was playing in the school’s first ever bowl game. Congratulations.

Not helping matters this year was that almost all of the marquee bowl games turned into blowouts. Clemson ran away with things in the 2nd half against Oklahoma, and Alabama did a lot of the same in the second semi-final against Michigan State. New Year’s Day, generally college football’s calling card, had these final scores on its biggest day: 45-6, 41-7, 44-28, 45-16, and 48-20. It was a worst case scenario for the NCAA considering people were already up in arms about the college football playoff being played on New Year’s Eve.

Part of the problem was that this year lacked the type of teams that draw national attention. Michigan State and Clemson aren’t going to create a buzz throughout the country and though Oklahoma is much more of a traditional power, I don’t think they have the same following nationally that teams like Ohio State and Notre Dame do. Personally, I had an issue with the games being played on December 31st, but not because of it being New Year’s Eve per say. My issue is with all the bowls being played after the playoff games. I’m a strong believer in the idea that the end of a sport’s season should crescendo at the end with each successive game or round being more important than the last. Maybe it’s because every other sport operates this way. It’s hard to get interested in games between teams like West Virginia and Arizona State when you just watched two playoff games a few days before.

Luckily for the NCAA, it was bailed out by an incredible championship game that brought back memories of Miami-Ohio State and USC-Texas. It had everything. From a touchdown underdog taking control, a storming comeback, special teams touchdowns, big offensive plays, and a quarterback nearly willing his team to victory against one of the country’s best defenses, it didn’t get much better than that Alabama-Clemson contest. In the end Alabama showed that their dynasty is not over and just how ridiculous it was for people to say they didn’t belong in the playoff because of that loss to Ole Miss 3 ½ months earlier. For Clemson, it was about as good of a silver lining game as a championship loss could get. Anyone who watched that game saw that the size and athleticism the Tigers had, particularly on defense, was simply ridiculous. Clemson proved that they can compete with anyone and aren’t just a product of an abysmal ACC. They also get back QB Deshaun Watson, who had the best individual performance of the season considering the stage and opponent.

It’s clear there isn’t a problem with the national championship, but there are a couple changes I would make to the bowl season. Some of them I went more in-depth with here. Aside from the title game, the semi-finals should be the last games played of the season. Could you imagine any other sport having a couple .500 teams randomly playing in between the conference championships and the title game/series? (Insert NFL Pro Bowl joke here). The “former BCS bowl” presidents are so obsessed with tradition that they won’t move off of their January 1st/January 2nd dates. They are so obsessed with that tradition that they signed up for a system that renders their bowls virtually meaningless two out of every three years, but hey their pockets get fatter so it’s all good.

With the dates of the New Year’s Six bowls unlikely to change, I would have all off the smaller bowls that are after January 1st moved to before the end of the year. Since I’m sure TV networks, aka ESPN, prefer maximizing their potential viewership, the bowl season could start earlier. Start the bowl season the week after conference championship weekend. Teams playing that weekend will not likely be affected by a bowl game occurring in a week. The bowl season would then roughly last from December 12th – January 1st with the championship still being played what feels like three weeks after New Year’s.

There are certainly drastic changes that could be made to the bowl season. With stubborn people in charge and too much money involved, most of them are unrealistic. Changes to the bowl schedule however are smaller ways to improve the end to every great season.

Featured image courtesy Jeremy Raff-Reynolds

Going Bowling for Lemonade

I’ll be the first to say that I didn’t think that teams that didn’t have a winning record should be invited to a bowl game. Personally, I think that if you’re going to be rewarded that you should at least earn said reward. It’s none of that “wussification” of America that people go on about or anything like that. I just think prizes should go to winners, or I guess those that finished at .500.

Well the NCAA doesn’t care what I think (which is probably good for a lot of referees) and invited three teams with 5-7 records to bowls, three of them from the Big Ten. Minnesota and Nebraska joined San Jose State in going bowling albeit in bowls that no one could tell you the names of but still, they’re playing which is more than a lot of other teams can say. Sorry Purdue.

Some teams might have sulked, knowing that they were only invited because there weren’t enough teams with winning records. The players could’ve just shown up, collected their swag and mailed it in.

There’s a saying about getting lemons from Life.

Nebraska went toe to toe with UCLA who found themselves ranked in the Top 10 during the regular season and was one of the teams that came in with a lot of preseason hype. They played in the Pac-12 which people thought was primed to supplant the SEC as the premier conference in college football. Nebraska was known for losing at the last second and being the team that was probably going to regret firing their previous coach.

It looked like they wouldn’t get a chance to lose at the last second when they were down 21-7. Then they scored 30 straight points and never looked back. For a team that wasn’t going to pay its coaches their bonuses because they weren’t going to acknowledge the game as happening, they sure looked pretty good.

Although they didn’t have as “glamourous” of an opponent in Central Michigan, Minnesota made good on their extra game as well. Some of us might have incorrectly predicted them to win double-digit games and they showed flashes as to why that might have been. Quarterback Mitch Leidner was an efficient 24 for 30 with a touchdown and chipped in to the Golden Gopher power run game. That and a tough defense let Minnesota finish the season on a high note at least.

San Jose State had by far the least glamourous opponent in 6-6 Georgia State but you know what? They’re both 6-7 now. They got some valuable TV time too. That’s more than I can say for my alma mater. Sorry Eastern Michigan. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I’d never seen San Jose State play football on TV before. Sure there’s probably not some 5-star recruit in Florida that saw the game and now wants to go there, but now more kids know that there’s yet another option.

So yeah, there’s a lot of bowl games but sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes we get garbage from teams that shouldn’t be playing and sometimes we get games that are worth watching and get to see just how much playing in these games means to these kids. Just remember that not every kid is good enough to play for a Power Five team and get to the College Football Playoff. For a lot of them, this is as close as they might get and they love it every bit as much.

 

AutoNation Cure Bowl: San Jose State vs. Georgia State

The San Jose State Spartans (5-7, 4-4 in the Mountain West Conference) will meet the Georgia State Panthers (6-6, 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference) in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl on Saturday, December 19th, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Kickoff time is 7 PM EST. It will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. This will be the sixth bowl appearance for the Spartans. The Panthers will be playing in their first bowl game ever. San Jose State has been installed as a 3.5 favorite.

Ron Caragher is 14-22 in his three years as head coach at San Jose State. Trent Miles, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year Award recipient, also just completed his third season as the head man at Georgia State. His record stands at 7-29.

San Jose State

At 5-7, the Spartans garnered this bowl invitation due to their high graduation rate. They scored 975, out of 1,000, on their APR (Academic Progress Rate).

I got a good look at the Spartans, back on October 3rd, as they played Auburn on the Tigers’ homecoming. Their ‘bell cow’ is Tyler Ervin. He carried the ball 27 times for 160 yards and a TD that day. He also returned two kickoffs for 59 yards. He is for real. He toted the rock for 1,469 yards in 2015 and totaled 2,410 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns. Ervin was also named to the first-team All-Mountain West team. His biggest games were 330 yards on the ground against Fresno State and 263 against New Mexico.

The Lobos, from Albuquerque, were the victims of a 31-21 defeat at the hands of San Jose State. That was the Spartans most impressive win of the season.

Quarterback Kenny Potter is one to watch, Saturday, as well. He is very accurate, with a 68.5 completion percentage, and he is mobile. He rushed for 346 yards and six TD’s. Potter was named the Outstanding Offensive Player at San Jose State in 2015.

The Outstanding Defensive Player, at San Jose State, went to Cleveland Wallace. Wallace is a defensive back who made three picks and broke up seven passes. He was in on 43 tackles this year.

And, the Spartans have a second-team All-American (Football Writers Association of America) in Michael Carrizosa. Carrizosa averaged 47.7 yards-per-punt and was a Ray Guy Award finalist.

As a side note, their offensive coordinator is Al Borges, who held the same position at Auburn from 2004-’07. As many of you know, Auburn went 13-0 in ’04 and were led by running backs Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Ronnie Brown. They were both top five draft picks and quarterback, Jason Campbell, was also selected in round one of the 2005 NFL draft.

Georgia State

The Georgia State Panthers are only in their sixth season as a football team. Bill Curry was their first head coach and helped build the program to its, now, FBS status. They play their home games in the Georgia Dome and hope to  have a stadium of their own in the not-too-distant future.

The Sun Belt Student Athlete of the Year Award went to Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle. The senior, a prolific passer, threw for 4,160 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was sixth in the nation in yards passing per game with a 346.7 average.

Penny Hart, Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Award winner, hauled in 70 passes from Arbuckle. These receptions totaled 1,085 yards. He and fellow Panthers, Robert Davis and Donovan Harden, teamed up to provide the Sun Belt Conference with it’s top three receivers. Davis is a junior and Harden is a senior.

The Panthers defense features senior linebacker Joseph Patterson. Patterson made 106 tackles in 2015 and has 371 career stops.

Tarris Batiste, also a senior, is a safety who has 5 interceptions in his time at Georgia State. He also has 21.5 career tackles-for-loss.

The Sun Belt All-Conference Team features 12 Panther players.

Georgia State got off to a slow start (2-6) but finished as a very hot team. They won their last four games. The Panthers defeated rival Georgia Southern in the last game of the season, 34-7.  That was a most impressive accomplishment. You might remember that Georgia Southern took the Georgia Bulldogs to overtime before losing, 23-17.

My sense is that the Cure Bowl will be a hard-fought, exciting affair which could come down to the wire. I think the underdog, Georgia State, could well pull off the upset. They also get the +3.5 points. That looks very good from here.

Prediction. Georgia State 31, San Jose State 27

The AutoNation Cure Bowl’s presenting sponsor is the Florida Hospital with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The sponsor will host a Cure Village where fans can opt to receive mammogram screenings.

Auburn: Looking Back At Week One, Looking Ahead To Week Two

That fast and furious Gus Bus that we analyzed back in July is now officially rolling. There were a few sputters and misses in week one. There were also some pedal to the metal moments. Climb aboard and let’s take a look at what lies before and behind. HONK HONK!!!
Arkansas proved to be a worthy opponent, at least for a half. With a bit of a tune up in the garage at intermission and, filled with premium, the Gus Bus was flat out dominant in the second stanza.
Here are some particulars for your cruise through this ride:
Auburn came in third in the SEC in total yards at 595.
They were fifth in total yards on defense giving up 328.
214.6 was AU’s passing efficiency rating. That was NUMBER ONE in the conference.
The Tigers were 100% in the red zone.
.643 was the third down conversion rate for number eleven nationally and number two in the SEC.
Here’s a good one. Hope it doesn’t make your eyes pop out. Auburn AVERAGED 9.7 yards on first down, 7.3 yards on second down and 8.1 yards on third down.
After some struggles in the first half, Auburn’s defense gave up only 61 yards TOTAL in the second half. Only 2 of those were rushing yards.
Some individual numbers from the guys who make it go:
Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards in his one half of work and his passing efficiency rating was 243.8. That was good enough for first in the country!
He was 12 for 16. Quick, do the math… 75%.
Quan Bray was number one in the SEC in punt return average. A 15.5 yard average on two returns.
Nick Marshall gave AU a huge boost with his running the zone read as one would expect. His passing wasn’t too shabby either. He completed 66.7% of his passes.
Cameron Artis-Payne. CAP rushed for 177 net yards at 6.8 yards per carry.
Corey Grant ran for 87 yards on 10 carries. More math… 8.7 yards per carry.
Duke Williams. Duke came in at numero uno in the SEC in total receiving yards. 154 of them on nine receptions. That is 17.1 yards per catch.
Melvin “Big Play” Ray averaged WHAT per catch? 38.5 yards. He only caught two but, man, did he make them count! The ball boy did a pretty good job on chasing Melvin down the sideline also.
AND… Daniel Carlson came in first in the SEC in average yards per punt at 53.3 yards per boot.
Auburn’s 45-21 victory over the Razorbacks was THE largest margin of victory for the Tigers in the series which now stands at 13-10-1 AU. My pick was 42-20. That ain’t bad but I do have a wee bit of room for improvement.
All things considered it was a very good opening day for the home team. And if a team’s greatest improvement is from the first game to the second, then the Spartans from San Jose are in for a long, long day.
That brings us to this week’s contest.
San Jose State University is a member of the Mountain West Conference(West Division). As a point-of-reference, some of the other conference members are Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado State, San Diego State, Hawaii, Fresno State and UNLV.
The Spartans are coached by Ron Caragher who is in his second year at the helm. He was an assistant at Kentucky from 2003-2006. prior to that he served a number of years at UCLA. From 2007-2013 he was the head coach at the University of San Diego where he complied a 44-22 record.
Last week the Spartans defeated North Dakota by a 42-10 count. They were led by quarterback Blake Jurich who completed 22 of 25 passes for 250 yards and 3 TD’s. That is impressive. But they averaged only 3.8 yards per rush. Not so good.
Auburn is a 31 point favorite over the bunch from Silicon Valley. This is too low. Auburn should dominate both sets of trenches and have a comfortable lead by halftime. Look for the running game to pile up big numbers. The passing game should get some good work in as well. We should see a lot of Jeremy Johnson in the second half. Running backs Peyton Barber, and hopefully Roc Thomas, could get a good many carries.
It’s going to, once again, be hot and humid on The Plains. This should further add to the Spartans misery.
Auburn 52 San Jose State 13