The Daily Aztec

Aztecs prepare for rematch against Stanford

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Sophomore cornerback Ron Smith intercepts a pass during the second quarter of SDSU's 20-17 win over Stanford University.

Sophomore cornerback Ron Smith intercepts a pass during the second quarter of SDSU's 20-17 win over Stanford University.

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Sophomore cornerback Ron Smith intercepts a pass during the second quarter of SDSU's 20-17 win over Stanford University.

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

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The last time San Diego State football played Stanford University, SDSU fans stormed the field at SDCCU Stadium after an upset victory in the third game of the 2017 season.

The on-field-frenzy followed a 22-minute delay for a stadium power outage, a late SDSU defensive stop and an eight-yard pass from then-junior quarterback Christian Chapman to senior tight end David Wells for the game-winning touchdown with 54 seconds left to play.

An unranked Aztec squad had toppled the No. 19 seed in the country, a Pac-12 Conference opponent and a team which a Group of Five conference school was not supposed to be able to compete with.

It will have been exactly 348 days since that last showdown when SDSU strides into Stanford Stadium on Aug. 31 looking to repeat history, to once again topple Goliath. This time in enemy territory.

“Every time I go to sleep I just think about big crowds and big stadiums, because I know Stanford is going to be a real big crowd,” junior linebacker Kyahva Tezino said, following a scrimmage at SDCCU Stadium on Aug. 18.

Last season’s victory launched the Aztecs into the national conversation, earning them a No. 22 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll as the team continued towards an unblemished start at 6-0.

Some faces have changed this year, but the storyline remains the same, with the Aztecs entering the season outside of the AP poll, while Stanford sits at No. 13.

SDSU no longer has the services of running back Rashaad Penny, who led the nation in rushing last season with 2,248 yards and finished with 175 rushing yards against a vaunted Cardinal defense.

Penny was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, leaving junior running back Juwan Washington as the player set to take over an Aztec offense traditionally built around pounding the rock.

A victory over Stanford would undoubtedly put SDSU in a better spot to start the season, but  Washington said that while the opener may be on everyone’s minds, to him, it is just another football game.

“One thing I learned from (head coach Rocky Long), (is that) no game is bigger than the other,” Washington said. “Everyone’s going to hype up the first game, but in my eyes it’s just another game, and we’ve just got to go out there and win.”

Washington has been penciled in as Penny’s heir apparent, after finishing with 759 yards and seven touchdowns as the backup last season.

“All you have to do is look at what (Washington’s) done the last couple of years as the backup,” Long said. “I don’t see – if our offensive line plays well, which we expect them to do – I don’t see a real drop-off there.”

Stanford, on-the-other-hand, still has senior running back Bryce Love, and SDSU may need to hold the Heisman hopeful for less than the game-high 184 yards he rushed for in last year’s matchup.

“(Love) will probably have a good day rushing the ball, hopefully, he won’t score too many times so we have a chance to win,” Long said.

Long said that the Aztecs will look to stifle Love by completing long possessions on offense, keeping the Cardinal’s explosive weapon off the field.

“Our plan is to do like we always do… try and control the ball to keep him off the field,” Long said. “That’s the best defense we can play.”

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