No. 10/16 BYU (7-0, 3-0 MWC)
at San Diego State (2-5, 1-2 MWC)
Oct. 27, 2001 * 6:05 p.m. PDT
Television: The BYU at San Diego State game will be televised live locally by SportsWest on Channel 4 San Diego.
Radio: All San Diego State football games can be heard live in southern California on XTRA Sports (690 AM).
San Diego State enters the game with a 2-5 (1-2 MWC) record after falling to Ohio State, 27-12, in Columbus, Oct. 20. BYU is coming off a 63-33 victory over Air Force. The Cougars are 7-0 (3-0 MWC). BYU is ranked No. 10 in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and No. 16 in the AP Top 25.
Saturday's game marks the Aztecs' annual Book The Q promotion. San Diego State encourages fans to donate books on their way into the game. The donations are then funneled throughout San Diego County in annual event that has become wildly successful. Last year over 14,000 books were donated to the cause.
San Diego State will be facing a member of the Top 25 for the first time this season when Brigham Young visits Qual-comm Stadium. San Diego State has not defeated a ranked opponent since knocking off No. 16 Wyoming on Nov. 7, 1996. The Aztecs were 0-2 vs. ranked opposition last season with losses to No. 24 Colorado State (34-22) and No. 17 Oregon State (35-3).
The Aztecs' rather strange 2001 season reaches its most critical juncture Saturday night. Another loss will eliminate San Diego State from any consideration for the Mountain West's three bowl opportunities. Even though SDSU enters the Brigham Young contest at 2-5 overall, the Aztecs are just 1-2 in league play with four Mountain West games remaining. The league has never had an undefeated champion and a win over the Cougars could jump-start a strong Aztec stretch run.
San Diego State has dropped two straight games for the second time this season. After a shocking 31-3 loss at UNLV in which SDSU was dominated in virtually every phase of the game, the Aztecs were equally puzzling on the positive side when they led Ohio State into the third quarter before a rash of turnovers ended hopes of an upset.
San Diego State entered the Ohio State contest a decided underdog. However, the Aztecs, playing in front of their largest crowd ever, were far from awed. The game ended with Ohio State winning the total offense battle by just 15 yards (334-319). Both teams averaged 4.6 yards per play and Larry Ned recorded yet another 100-yard effort. SDSU led 12-6 at halftime and trailed just 20-12 entering the fourth quarter.
The final score, and perhaps the outcome of the game, can be traced to five consecutive SDSU turnovers to start the second half. Four interceptions and a fumbled snap resulted in Ohio State erasing the halftime deficit. Fourteen of Ohio State's second-half points came on a total of 23 yards of offense. The Buckeyes were limited to 136 rushing yards (just 56 through three quarters) and the Aztecs got to OSU quarterbacks for four sacks. The time of possession was a virtual standoff with the Aztecs holding a slight 30:26-29:34 advantage. The Ohio State game marked the first time this season that the Aztecs dropped a game after leading in time of possession and leading at halftime.
Brigham Young leads the all-time series with San Diego State by an 18-6-1 advantage. BYU is 7-3-1 vs. the Aztecs in Mission Valley. The tie came in the infamous 1991 meeting that ended 52-52. San Diego State's 16-15 victory last season in Provo ended a five-game losing streak in the series. The Aztecs have never won two straight against Brigham Young and will be looking to defeat the Cougars in San Diego for the first time since a 28-15 win in 1988, a period that spans just five games. Two of those games are memorable. The 52-52 draw has been featured on ESPN Classic and in 1993 the Cougars outscored the Aztecs by a 45-44 count.
From the Aztec standpoint, San Diego State's 16-15 win in Provo last season was a thriller. After leading most of the game, San Diego State watched rather helplessly as BYU's Owen Pachman booted a 50-yard field goal with just 46 seconds remaining to give the Cougars a 15-13 lead. So desperate did the SDSU situation seem, the ESPN+Plus television crew awarded Pachman player-of-the game honors for his "game-winning field goal". However, Lon Sheriff, in just his fifth start, marched the Aztecs on a frantic 62-yard drive. His 39-yard completion to Derrick Lewis gave SDSU a chance. Kicker Nate Tandberg took advantage. The senior booted a 36-yarder with just one second remaining to provide San Diego State with just its second win ever in Provo. Neither team committed a turnover on the rainy day at Cougar Stadium.