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2017 a sign of a bright future for SDSU

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Rashaad Penny runs  the ball in the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18.

Rashaad Penny runs the ball in the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18.

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Rashaad Penny runs the ball in the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18.

by Kyle Saunders, Staff Columnist

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To call this season irrelevant is just flat out wrong. San Diego State football may not be playing for a Mountain West Conference title, but there’s a lot of promise shown from this young team.

Players and fans alike will just need to trust the process.

Two teams, now both ineligible for a Mountain West title game appearance, were chalked up to play a Friday afternoon matinee in front of what seemed to be 10,000 fans instead of the announced 28,978 at SDCCU stadium on Friday.

To be fair, the lack of Scarlet and Black faithful can be attributed to the food coma most of the United States fell into after Thanksgiving.

This game had no implications in regards to the Aztecs’ postseason, as they became bowl eligible weeks ago and the conference title game is already set for a Fresno State and Boise State showdown.

It wouldn’t have been shocking to have seen SDSU come out lackluster as this rollercoaster of a season came to an end, but Rocky Long and his band of scrappy, relentless players refused to finish this season that way. They went out and embarrassed New Mexico, a perfect send off for the seniors.

As disappointing as this season may seem, a lot of young players stepped up to the plate and earned their spot on this roster.

We saw an offensive line with only one returning starter go head-to-head with some of the best run defenses in the country and still propelling senior running back Rashaad Penny to over 2,000 yards.

Freshman safety Tariq Thompson stole the spotlight on the defensive side of the ball all season and finished his rookie year with two interceptions against the Lobos.

New Mexico was an opportunity for SDSU to take out its frustrations, a way to show the rest of the NCAA that even when written off it won’t give up.

A win wouldn’t change the finalists for the Doak Walker Award or magically thrust senior running back Rashaad Penny into the Heisman Trophy conversation, but by the way they played it sure seemed like it did.

It’s a tough idea to digest, no matter how well the Aztecs play this team will never get the credit they deserve.

No Heisman voter was adamantly watching the game on Friday.

Even though Penny rushed for over 200 yards for the fourth consecutive game, it won’t change their minds.

That’s the bittersweet reality of being a star player in a Group of Five conference.

As deflating as it sounds, the good news is that SDSU doesn’t care what the “experts” say.

The Aztecs knew this season there was a small margin for error, and instead of giving up after the October losses, they decided to fight to the very end.

“We had four games left in our schedule and we were just going to take them one week at a time. And it didn’t matter that we didn’t have any rest or anything,” senior fullback Nick Bawden said.

This mindset propelled SDSU to a high level of play that it remained at for the duration of the season.

The Aztecs find strength within themselves, more specifically each other – just ask Rashaad Penny.

“It’s just all about how you overcome adversity,” Penny said. “And that’s what I’ve been taught here with these guys. When I have these great teammates on the side, trust me, I’m always smiling.”

SDSU still has a bowl game to focus on, regardless of which game it is.

To reach double digit wins three straight seasons is no easy feat in college football, and the  Aztecs boast the only running back duo to rush for 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Although they will be missing Penny next season, most of the star players from this team will be back next year to try and reclaim the title of MW champion, they just have to trust the process.

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