San Diego State Aztecs vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Thursday – December 23 – 7:00 pm CT
Aloha Stadium – Honolulu, Hawai’i
Records Before the Game
San Diego State Aztecs (10-3, 8-0 Mountain West)
Cincinnati Bearcats (7-5, 4-4 American)
How They Got Here
The Aztecs won their home opener and lost their next three to end the month of September with a 1-3 record. Qualifying for a bowl bid probably wasn’t on their radar. Then the Aztecs won nine in a row and are looking to extend the program’s longest winning streak in about four decades. This is the third-longest winning streak in the country, behind Clemson (16) and Alabama (10). The Bearcats on the other hand have had an up-and-down type of season. They split their final four games. Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville is up to his old tricks by not naming a starter yet. He hopes this will provide his team an advantage.
San Diego Aztecs
The Aztecs plan on going with freshman QB Christian Chapman who has only completed 21 of 38 attempts for 323 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He’ll be filling in for an injured Maxwell Smith. Let me go ahead and state this: Aztecs junior RB Donnel Pumphrey is something special. He’s 5′ 9″ and 170 pounds or so. He’s more than a scat back. He has the power it takes to run between the tackles. Additionally in this game, Pumphrey can tie Marshall Faulk’s record of 23 100-yard rushing games in his career. I’d bank on that happening. Expect Chapman to hook with sophomore WR Mikah Holder on pass plays. Holder is the team leader with 23 receptions on the season.
The Bearcats are waiting until game time to announce who their starting QB will be. Cincinnati is comfortable using both QBs in the same game. So flip a coin to see if the Bearcats go with Gunner Kiel who transferred from Notre Dame or freshman Hayden Moore. The fact is, the offense will not miss a beat with either one at the helm. The ground game belongs to senior Hosey Williams who is serviceable at best. Don’t expect great things from him as Cincinnati lives and dies with the pass. WR Shaq Washington only needs 29 receiving yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season. That’ll happen in the first quarter. The senior wide out has hauled in 88 passes this season along with six TDs. He is the go-to receiver for the Bearcats and will be utilized early and often.
Prediction: Long is 1-3 for the Aztecs in bowl games and Tuberville is 0-2. The Aztecs have a stout defense and the Bearcats are pretty much one dimensional. I see the Aztecs winning a grind it out type of game behind Pumphrey and their defense. Final score: Aztecs 30 – Bearcats 27