The San Diego State Aztecs defeated Wyoming 27-24 to win the Mountain West Conference championship.
Make no mistake about it: this was an impressive victory for Rocky Long’s squad. After all, the Aztecs had the burden of playing the game in Laramie, where the ‘Pokes have been tough to beat this season. In fact, Wyoming hadn’t lost a home game this year against a brutal slate that included games with Air Force, Boise State, and of course, San Diego State two weeks ago. Considering that the Aztecs lost convincingly to Colorado State in their season finale, no one gave them much of a chance to win this contest.
Yet, they did, thanks to an outstanding effort from the defense. The SDSU front seven controlled the line of scrimmage all night long, limiting the Cowboy ground game to just 95 yards on 30 carries. It also did a great job of getting after the quarterback, sacking Josh Allen four times, and forcing him to rush his throw on a number of other occasions. As a result of the pressure, San Diego State intercepted Allen twice, including a crucial pick in the third quarter that allowed the Aztecs to retake the lead.
Of course, what the stat sheet won’t show is how well the Aztec D played with the game on the line. Just as it looked like San Diego State was going to ice the contest, a fumble gave Wyoming a chance to take the lead with just under four minutes remaining. After the Cowboys nearly connected on a long pass on second down, the Aztec defense had to stop them from picking up two yards on the next two plays.
That’s exactly what they did. Once again, San Diego State won the battle up front, stopping Allen for no gain on third down and a loss of two on fourth down. While Wyoming would get the ball back with just under a minute to play, it had no answers for the Aztec rush, which recorded a sack and forced a holding penalty on the Cowboys’ final series.
With the victory, San Diego State capped off a very solid 2016 campaign. Sure, Aztec fans would probably like a “do over” with South Alabama and Colorado State, but the bottom line is that this team accomplished its main goal of winning the school’s 21st conference championship. That’s quite an achievement, considering that the team had to win in a hostile environment like Laramie.
In other words: enjoy your trip to Las Vegas as the Mountain West champion.