The formula for San Diego State has been a pretty simple one ever since Rocky Long took over the program: play salty defense and take advantage of mistakes with big plays on the other end.
On the first full Saturday of bowl season in college football, that formula was working to perfection in the New Mexico Bowl as the Aztecs turned two turnovers into a pair of trips to the end zone to help take a 20-3 halftime lead over Central Michigan.
SDSU’s Kyahva Tezino notched the first of those takeaways, hauling in an interception off a tipped ball on just the third play of the game. The feat was matched later in the second quarter as Tariq Thompson turned himself into a receiver to snag his pick, both of which were turned into a touchdown just a few plays later by a surprisingly potent offense that had little problem throwing the football around like an Air Raid team.
QB Ryan Agnew played a big role in that, throwing for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half to Jesse Matthews. The latter was seemingly running free on every other play as he caught three balls for an ever efficient 111 yards and the two nearly untouched trips across the goal line.
For good measure, the team’s best corner, Luq Barcoo, also managed to find his hands on the football by netting a goal line interception that tied him for the FBS lead this season (his ninth). All three of those bad throws came from CMU QB Quinten Dormandy (156 yards on 10-of-20 passing otherwise), who was pretty much the only thing going on offense even with those giveaways.
Jim McElwain has authored one of the biggest turnarounds in the country this season with the Chips but they’ll have to save their best for last the way things have trended so far in Albuquerque. As hard as that may be to do, it certainly gets a lot tougher when their opponent is also executing their standard game plan to perfection at the same time.