SUBPLOTS WE’LL WATCH
San Diego State’s quarterback
Jalen Mayden is one of the interesting stories of the college football season. A former four-star recruit as a dual-threat quarterback, he enrolled at Mississippi State (where he attempted two passes in 2018), transferred to San Diego State, found himself buried on the depth chart as the No. 4 quarterback, moved to safety and now has emerged as one of the most productive QBs the program has seen in years. His 322 yards in his debut against Hawaii was only the third 300-yard passing performance for a San Diego State quarterback in 97 games. The Aztecs are 5-1 with the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Texan in the lineup, and he has averaged 255.5 passing yards with a 65% completion percentage while running for 209 yards and three scores. This has long been seen as a very good program that was a quarterback away from being truly great. Well, they may have that quarterback.
The Falcons offense
As we have written before, Air Force’s offense beyond the fullback position has been inconsistent this season. The Falcons have 1,811 rushing yards from their top three fullbacks – Brad Roberts, Emmanuel Michel and Omar Fattah – making up 40% of the offense. The rest of the offense has been good for the occasional home run, with six plays of 60 or more yards, but a regular balance has been difficult to find, particularly when teams have stymied the fullback. The Falcons are attempting just seven passes per game and top tailback John Lee Eldridge III averages just seven carries per game. The team has been all-in on the fullback position, but it’s not too late to develop other ways to attack a defense.
Brad Roberts on the all-time charts
The Air Force fullback, assuming he plays with an injured hand, has a chance to break a number of program records. He needs 70 yards to notch the program’s all-time leading season in rushing yards (held by Beau Morgan with 1,494 yards in 1996), 26 carries to break his own record of 298 carries in a season and with 100 yards he would set a program record with 10 100-yard games in a season. On the career lists he needs 18 carries to break Shaun Carney’s record, one rushing touchdown to match Tim Jefferson at No. 5 and 142 yards to climb to No. 3 on the rushing list.
BY THE NUMBERS
San Diego State’s winning percentage since 2015 (72-28), the 10th best in the nation.
Each team enters the game riding a three-game winning streak.
Consecutive meetings between Air Force and San Diego State where both teams entered with a winning percentage of at least .600.
Consecutive wins by San Diego State in the all-time series, though Air Force still holds a 19-18 lead overall.
Points that have separated the teams in their past four meetings, with the Aztecs winning by 3, 4, 4 and 6 points.
Former San Diego State players currently in the NFL (six on active rosters, three on injured reserve, seven on practice squads). By contrast, the Falcons have no grads currently on active rosters and four on practice squads – Parker Ferguson (Falcons; signed on Thursday), Garrett Griffin (Lions), Jordan Jackson (Saints) and Nolan Laufenberg (Commanders).