Nevada football plays at San Diego State in regular season finale, looks to halt Aztecs’ win streak | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Nevada football plays at San Diego State in regular season finale, looks to halt Aztecs’ win streak

Joe Santoro
Nevada Appeal

Wolf Pack Game Day

Nevada (6-5, 4-3) at San Diego State (8-3, 7-0)

Saturday, 7:45 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium

TV: ESPN2 / Radio: 94.5 FM, 630 AM

The San Diego State Aztecs remember what the Nevada Wolf Pack did to them last season.

“They beat us up,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said of the Wolf Pack’s 30-14 victory over the Aztecs at Mackay Stadium. “They beat us on the scoreboard and they beat us up physically.”

The two teams will meet again Saturday night, Nov. 28, at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium — kickoff is at 7:45 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2. The Aztecs (8-3, 7-0) will bring a seven-game winning streak into the final regular season game of the year against the Pack (6-5, 4-3).

“I assume they will have a lot of confidence coming into this game,” Long said. “I’m sure they will try to beat us up again.”

A big reason why the Wolf Pack beat the Aztecs a year ago was the way they controlled San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey, who had 112 yards and a touchdown in a 51-44 overtime win over the Pack in San Diego in 2013, is a huge part of the Aztecs’ offense.

“Donnel Pumphrey is the most explosive running back in the Mountain West,” said Brian Polian, who became the first Wolf Pack coach to beat San Diego State last year since Jim Aiken in 1946. “When he hits a crease he can finish it like nobody else in the league.”

The Aztecs’ defense is first in the Mountain West, holding opponents to just 16.8 points and 285.5 yards a game. It is led by linebackers Calvin Munson (8.5 sacks) and Jake Fely (64 tackles) as well as a three-man front of Jon Sanchez (5.5 sacks), Christian Heyward (two sacks) and Alex Barrett (11.5 tackles for a loss).

The Wolf Pack features backs James Butler (1,133 yards) and Don Jackson (980), who both went over 100 yards against the Aztecs last year. Jackson had 124 yards and Butler had 103 and both scored a touchdown.

“It’s going to be a physical game, a smash mouth game,” Butler said.

The Wolf Pack is coming off a demoralizing 31-27 loss at Utah State. The Pack led 27-7 in the third quarter and saw the Aggies score the game’s final 24 points. It was the first time the Pack lost a game after it was leading by 20 or more points since a 49-48 loss to Arizona (a 21-0 lead) in the New Mexico Bowl in 2012.

“When you have somebody on the ground you have to finish them off and we didn’t do it,” Jones said. “But, hopefully, it’s a lesson learned.”