The San Diego State Aztecs will take on the Stanford Cardinals in week 3 of the college football season. Coach Rocky Long challenges his team this year with a tougher non-conference schedule, featuring back-to-back Pac-12 opponents.
The Aztecs will play host to the Cardinals, after the Aztecs go to Phoenix to take on Arizona State. After last year's victory against Cal, Long is betting his team has the swagger to upset another Pac-12 team.
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Mascot: Stanford Tree
Coach: David Shaw
2016 record: 10-3, 6-3 Pac-12
Bryce Love, RB Bryce
Love follows Christian McCaffrey as the go-to for Stanford’s running attack. A preview of 2017 season started when Love took over as McCaffrey sat out their Sun Bowl appearance. In that game Love rushed for 119 yards on 21 carries and caught one pass for a 49-yard touchdown. Love, like San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, also handled kick returner duties. He too is versatile, and San Diego State will not face another tough runner like him in 2017.
Quenton Meeks, CB
Quenton Meeks emerged out of 2016 as Stanford's shutdown corner. Meeks, a local San Diego product, appears on the Athlon preseason All-America third team. In the games Meeks started in 2016, they've only lost to Colorado. When he sustained injury, the Cardinals suffered back-to-back blowouts. The 6-foot-2 Meeks keeps pass heavy offenses honest and diverts offenses to short passes and the running game. For the Aztecs it’s hard to imagine that they will throw in Meeks’ direction on game day.
Justin Reid, SS
The younger brother of strong safety Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers, Justin Reid is a preseason All-Pac-12 first team. Reid made 55 total tackles in 2016, including a season-high 11 against Oregon. Reid played strong last season and isn’t afraid to make tackles. In San Diego State’s run-heavy offense it’s hard to see the Aztecs running through this man.
On paper, Stanford fights the top of the Pac-12 and returns to the Rose Bowl with a strong shot to make the National Championship Game. The silver lining for the Aztecs? The Cardinals were only plus-2 in the turnover game. Compare that +2 number against the Aztecs’ plus-14 in turnovers. The Aztecs’ defense has a fighter’s shot at keeping this close, and disrupting the offense
Way Too Early Prediction: The Aztecs gets two touchdowns in the second half, but Stanford will come into town and stomp out the Aztecs. When the Cardinals leave with a 'W', they'll laugh at the team that has the intentions of replacing the Chargers. Bryce Love will go for 190 yards and two touchdowns, but the Aztecs defense will score one of those two touchdowns.
Final score prediction: Stanford 44, San Diego State 17