Nov 042010
Authors: Cris Tiller

CSU travels to San Diego in hopes of salvaging the season and remaining bowl eligible against San Diego State on Saturday.

The Aztecs (6-2, 3-1 MWC) are on the cusp of making the Top 25 and have a 3-0 record playing at home this year.

CSU (3-6, 2-3), on the other hand, has been significantly worse away from Hughes Stadium, having yet to win a road game.

The good news for the Rams is in the past, games played in San Diego show a lot of support for the team because of the numerous athletes recruited from the Southern California area.

In fact, 13 of the 84 players on CSU’s roster are from California including true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas.

“I’m obviously real excited to go play in front of a bunch of family and friends,” Thomas said. “It’s not about me and how many people are going to be there, it’s about getting a win that we need to stay bowl eligible.”

The journey out to San Diego is also a return home for coach Steve Fairchild.

Fairchild played quarterback at San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School, where he won two consecutive league championships before going to junior college and eventually CSU.

“It’s kind of fun to go back and I do have family in the area, so it gives me a chance to see some people,” Fairchild said.

However, Fairchild’s main concern is keeping SDSU from opening the game up with big pass plays.

The Aztecs average 283.1 yards per game through the air, the No. 19 pass offense in the country.

“They can light you up in every way,” Fairchild said. “Their quarterback is experienced … we will have our hands full against them.”

It will be up to another San Diego area native, junior safety Ivory Herd, and the secondary to slow down SDSU.

“(The key to winning) is just playing disciplined and sticking to our assignments,” Herd said. “I believe if we do that, we’ll be OK.”

SDSU’s offense also features the conference’s top rusher, freshman Ronnie Hillman.

Hillman has rushed for 905 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

The running back situation for the Rams is still somewhat up in the air after the return of season-opening starter Raymond Carter and the split starts between Chris Nwoke and Leonard Mason in Carter’s absence.

All three insist whoever starts deserves it because of what they showed that week.

“(The coaches) leave it up to us at practice and we have to execute and they’re looking for perfection,” said Carter, a Los Angeles native. “Whoever is the guy doing good at practice, that’s the guy who’s going to be the starter.”

CSU has won seven of its last nine games played in Qualcomm Stadium, stretching back to 1995, but the Aztecs hold the all-time series lead at 16-13.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and can been seen on The Mtn.

Football Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at

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