In its last home game of the season, CSU will host Mountain West
Conference opponent San Diego State in a contest that features two
teams with identical records. Both stand at 5-5 overall and 2-3 in
conference, but the Aztecs are riding a two-game winning streak
while the Rams have fallen in two consecutive heartbreakers.
The game marks the last appearance at Hughes Stadium for 24 Ram
seniors, who will be honored before the game. Atop the list of
departing seniors is quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, whose lone goal
is to come out with a victory.
“There would be no better way in my eyes than to end our home
season with a win,” Van Pelt said. “(The season) hasn’t gone as
planned, but we still have a lot to fight for. It’s my last home
game and my family will be there and I can’t ask for anything
It was the game against San Diego State in 2001 in which Van
Pelt earned his starting job and he has carried the Rams ever
since. CSU beat the Aztecs last year, but San Diego State has beat
CSU in the last two meetings at Hughes.
“It seems like every team in the Mountain West has come in fired
up to knock us off. You can guarantee that this team has a lot to
fight for,” Van Pelt said. “They have good players and a good team.
We have to rise to the occasion and look them in the eyes and let
them know we aren’t scared.”
San Diego State’s defense is first in conference in yards per
game with 286.7. Linebacker Kirk Morrison is second in the MWC in
tackles, averaging 9.8 a game.
“San Diego State has a great defense. I think all-around, they
are the best defense in the league,” head coach Sonny Lubick said
in a press release. “They are very consistent. They fly to the
The Aztecs will have to try to stop the conference’s top
offensive team, as the Rams average 459.8 yards a game. Van Pelt
has generated most of those yards, averaging 239.2 yards in the air
and 72.9 on the ground.
“Obviously we aren’t going to stop Bradlee Van Pelt,” San Diego
State head coach Tom Craft said. “He is the best athlete in the
conference and we are just going to try and contain him.”
The Aztec offense took multiple hits last week, but the loss of
freshman running back Lynell Hamilton hit them the hardest.
Hamilton, who has 1,087 yards on the year and averages 108.7 yards
a game, ended his season when a high ankle sprain snapped his leg
in two places.
Starting quarterback Adam Hall suffered ligament damage in his
ankle and the Aztecs’ leading wide receiver, Jeff Webb, sprained
his shoulder and might have ligament damage. The status of both
players is questionable and will be determined at game time.
Senior linebacker Drew Wood leads the Ram defense and hopes to
have a good time in his last home appearance.
“We just want to go out and have fun,” Wood said. “For a lot of
the games, maybe that is a little bit of the fire that has been
missing. We were too worried about messing up and we just need to
go have fun. It is my last time in front of the home crowd. I am
sure it is going to be emotional, but hopefully I can get through
it and play the game.”
Wide receiver Chris Pittman is another Ram who will step on
Sonny Lubick Field for the last time on Saturday.
“I am looking forward to it. It is my last game at Hughes,”
Pittman said. “We are going to come out and play not only for
self-pride, but for everyone that cares about Ram football. Our
team is thirsty for a win right now.”
Aztec quarterback Adam Hall remains questionable along with his
top receiver Jeff Webb. Even if substitutions don’t have to be
made, the two don’t compare to CSU. Rams’ quarterback Bradlee Van
Pelt leads the MWC in total yards and the Rams’ offense leads the
MWC in total yards as well. In addition to his usual reliable
targets of David Anderson and Chris Pittman, Van Pelt will also
have more opportunities to include tight end Joel Dressen who
should see more action.
Rushing: Running backs Michael Franklin and DeAngelo Nedd will
try to fill the gap left by Lynell Hamilton, but they don’t have
experience on their side. Franklin is expected to take most of the
snaps and has carried the ball 39 times, averaging 3.7 yards a rush
and 14.4 yards a game. Nedd has only 11 carries, but is averages
7.9 yards per carry. Ram runners Marcus Houston and Rashaan Sanders
have combined to average 102.2 yards a game. Alongside the 72.9
yards a game Van Pelt averages, CSU has a solid running game.
San Diego State is the best team at stopping offenses in the
conference. They have staged two shutouts this season including in
last week’s 7-0 victory over UNLV. The Rams rank seventh in the
eight-team conference on defense, allowing 376.2 yards a game. They
have had trouble stopping teams consistently this season.
San Diego State is last in punt returns averaging 8.1 yards and
second to last in kick returns in the conference averaging 17.4
yards, while CSU’s Dexter Wynn leads the MWC in punt and kick
returns averaging 14.6 and 28.1 yards respectively. Punting is
fairly equal with Jeff Babcock averaging 41.9 yards a punt and Seth
Santoro averaging 42.1 yards. Babcock has made 75 percent of his
field goals and Aztec J.C. Mejia has completed 71.4 percent of
CSU 24 SDSU 14 The Ram’s offense is stronger, but could still
struggle against San Diego’s defense. With all of the Aztecs
injuries, they won’t be able to get their offense going.