2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - SDSU at Army
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Sept. 10 San Diego State 23 ... at Army 20
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Ronnie Hillman rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns to lead San Diego State to a 23-20 win over Army on Saturday.
Ryan Lindley added 146 yards through the air for the Aztecs (2-0, 0-0 Mountain West), who secured the win on Abelardo Perez's 42-yard field goal with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter.
Trent Steelman ran for a career-high 157 yards and scored three touchdowns for Army, but the Black Knights committed eight fumbles, losing three, as they fell to 0-2.
Lindley finished 8-of-18, including a 68-yard strike to Colin Lockett just 33 seconds into the first quarter. Hillman also posted 20 receiving yards as San Diego State remained unbeaten under new coach Rocky Long.
"We won," Long said, "and we're happy as heck we did."
The game, attended by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as West Point remembered the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was the first matchup of the two schools, and featured a tribute to the victims and heroes at halftime.
Army cadets passed out American flags to fans before the game, and first responders were among those honored. Also, a day before the 10th anniversary of the attacks in New York and Washington, a large American flag was unfurled as part of the tribute that included the West Point band.
Fans stopped to sign a memorial banner that will be presented Sunday at ceremonies at Ground Zero. Giuliani spoke during the ceremony.
"I'm here because West Point is honoring our first responders: the firefighters, police officers, rescue workers who were our first line of defense against this attack against America," Giuliani told the AP. "I love West Point. I've been coming to games since the 1980s."
Malcolm Brown ran for 77 yards on the ground for the Black Knights, who outrushed San Diego State, 403-146.
"Yards don't win games," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "Turnovers is what correlates to the final score."
Down by a field goal with 2:48 remaining, Army marched to the 25-yard line. But the Aztecs defense, one of the nation's best in facing triple-option offenses, held with a pass breakup, a sack and a forced fumble. A last-ditch, fourth-down pass fell incomplete, as Army was denied its 650th win in program history.
The Aztecs did not commit a turnover for the third straight game. It's the first time San Diego State has done that since making the jump to Division I, now the FBS, in 1969. San Diego State is now 11-4 over its last 15 games, its best stretch in 33 years.
Already up 7-0, San Diego State recovered one of five first-half Army fumbles when Steelman was hit on a keeper. Vaness Harris picked up the loose ball, setting up a 16-yard touchdown run by Hillman four plays later.
Army answered with the next two scores, but couldn't build off it. Steelman ran in from a yard out to cap an 11-play, 71-yard drive, to get on the board, and the Cadets evened it up when Steelman posted an 11-yard run midway through the second. The second score came on third-and-goal from the 11, salvaging a 15-play, 82-yard drive.
San Diego State took a 20-14 lead on Hillman's second score of the day, a 20-yard rush around two tacklers that capped an 80-yard drive with 2:18 left in the third.
The Aztecs never trailed.
The Black Knights' home opener also marked the first time that a California team had visited Michie Stadium since 1980.
San Diego State (1-0) at Army 0-1) Sept.
10, 7:00, ESPN2/ESPN3
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Here's The Deal … Everything went according to plan for San Diego State in its opener, but things couldn't have gone worse for Army in an embarrassment of a thumping. It's a lot of pressure to be put on both teams, but with tough schedules ahead, the loser could have a problem going bowling.
New Aztec head coach Rocky Long had few problems keeping the rushing production going from last year in the 49-21 win over Cal Poly, and while there are holes to fill and things to work on after Week One, there's no arguing with the start. With Washington State not looking like a layup next week, and with at Michigan, TCU, and at Air Force follow, this is where everything has to come together.
Army was supposed to be able to go toe-to-toe with Northern Illinois, but instead it got knocked out early. Despite 303 yards rushing, the game was a blowout as the Knight defense didn't have any sort of an answer for Chandler Harnish and his five touchdown passes. With Ball State beating Indiana, and that not being the automatic win it appeared to be before the season, the next two weeks could be tough with a date against Northwestern up next before going to Muncie.
Why Army Might Win: There isn't any threat of a running quarterback this week. Army's defensive front had fits trying to deal with Chandler Harnish and the NIU backfield, and while SDSU's Ronnie Hillman is dangerous enough to scoot for huge yards - especially after the 138 yards and 9.9 yards per carry that NIU's Jasmin Hopkins ripped off last week – life will be far, far easier having to worry about just the running back. Offensively, the Army offense worked yardage-wise, but the game got out of hand too quickly for the 303 yards of ground game to matter. Trent Steelman ran the attack well and got ten runners involved, but it didn't matter after being down 49-6. Army has to control the ball and the clock early on, but ...
Why San Diego State Might Win: The Aztecs had their dress rehearsal for the Army offense last week. Cal Poly runs a similar style of offense to Army – Knight head coach Rich Ellerson left the school to take over his new job – and San Diego State kept it in check on the ground. The Mustangs only ran for 137 yards and were never really in the game. Army's Steelman can throw a little bit, but like last week's game against NIU, if the Knights get down, it's uh oh time. The aggressive Aztec defensive front came up with nine tackles for loss and two sacks last week, and it should have little trouble getting into the Army backfield.
What To Watch Out For: Army can't afford to lose good players on an already thin defensive front, and it'll be without key end Jarrett Mackey, one of the team's best all-around playmakers and a great run stopper. Now that he's out, the linebackers will have to do even more, which could be tough after Steve Erzinger was in on seemingly every play against NIU, making 21 tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss. He'll have to control Hillman by searching him out and keeping him from breaking free.
Hillman does a terrific job of getting small, hiding behind his linemen, and bursting out. Against Cal Poly he ripped off 189 yards and two scores, making the game a blowout, helped by a tremendous game from the offensive front. QB Ryan Lindley was hardly touched, and wasn't sacked, while the holes were there for Hillman to fly through. Against the smallish but aggressive Army line, the Aztecs need to pound away.
What Will Happen: Army won't get blown out of the water again and should be even sharper offensively, but the defense won't be able to handle the Aztec balance. Lindley is a superior passer who should put up Harnish-like numbers if he's given a little time. He'll get the time.
CFN Prediction: San Diego State 37 … Army 27
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SDSU -9.5 O/U: 55
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