Saturday, Sept. 7
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (ESPN2 in outer markets)
Ohio Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Head coach: Rocky Long
2012 record: (9-4, 7-1, share of Mountain West Conference championship)
Series mark: OSU leads 3-0
School location: San Diego, Calif.
Enrollment: 24,590 undergraduate, 5,426 graduate Colors: Black, scarlet and gold
Stadium: Qualcomm Stadium (71,294 capacity)
These are dark times in the history of San Diego State University football, and while a visit to Ohio Stadium probably isn't going to help matters in the short team, there is still hope that the team can eventually turn things around in 2013.
For SDSU, the encore performance to a 2012 season that saw it claim part of a three-way tie for the 2012 Mountain West championship and compete in a second consecutive bowl game was a shocking Saturday upset against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. EIU, a Football Championship Subdivision program, came to the Aztecs home field at Qualcomm Stadium and throttled the hosts, 40-19.
SDSU players were not made available to the media following Saturday's loss. Instead, head coach Rocky Long fielded all questions, saying "It's my fault, so I'll answer the questions. It's not (the players') fault."
Some writers on the SDSU football beat are already declaring the 2013 season over, and Long said Monday that his team is "hurt" by the loss. Long also said he'd continue to evaluate the players in an honest fashion because there's still hope the Aztecs can turn things around this season.
It's entirely possible that the 21-point loss to EIU was just a bad day for the Aztecs.
"That's as bad a performance as I've ever been around, but you have to give (EIU) a lot of credit. They came and played extremely well and didn't make many mistakes," Long said after the loss. "We played poorly and made every mistake in the book."
Mistakes of varying significance can happen every game, but will the Aztecs make "every mistake in the book" two weeks in a row? That's debatable, if not unlikely.
A preseason media poll had SDSU finishing second in the MWC West, but one vote for the Aztecs to win the division speaks to the expectation that the team will be competitive in 2013.
CollegeFootballPoll.com, in providing an even more optimistic view of the SDSU program, had the Aztecs listed as a preseason pick to go undefeated in conference play and 11-1 overall and win both the MWC West and the conference title game. Basically, the outlook for SDSU could still be a positive one.
"One game does not make a season," Long said after Saturday's loss. "We'll regroup. Competitors regroup after they've been embarrassed and beat up like that. Competitors regroup and they go back to work and they work on the next competition. Other people quit and say it's over."
1. SDSU head coach Rocky Long succeeded current Michigan head coach Brady Hoke when he became the 19th coach in program history. With Hoke at the helm, the Aztecs posted a 13-12 record during the 2009 and 2010 seasons and also won the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. The 9-4 record posted by the 2010 Aztecs was the first nine-win team the program had seen since 1971.
2. During his team as the head coach at Utah, current OSU head coach Urban Meyer went 2-0 against SDSU. Meyer defeated the Aztecs handily during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, winning 27-6 and 51-28, respectively.
3. Meyer wasn't so lucky against current SDSU head coach Long, who was the head man at New Mexico when Meyer was at Utah. The Lobos won a 47-35 decision at Utah in 2003, a loss Meyer's Utes avenged a year later by a 28-7 score in Albuquerque.
4. Since the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year, Ohio State and San Diego State rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in combined football and men's basketball winning percentage. Ohio State is 113-27 (80.7 percent, not including the vacated 2010 football season) while SDSU is 106-36 (74.8).
5. San Diego State has advanced to three consecutive bowl games. The Aztecs join Stanford as the only football teams in California – college or pro – to advance to the postseason in each of the past three seasons
Player To Watch
Aztecs quarterback Adam Dingwell simply had a miserable day under center in SDSU's opener. He also didn't get a ton of help from his offensive line.
Dingwell was 27 of 63 for 318 yards and four interceptions, but his linemen let down in protection as they allowed four sacks and were subjected to Long's criticism during and after the EIU loss. Before the game ended, SDSU freshman guard Nico Siragusa was subbed out for sophomore Darrell Greene. But Greene didn't appear to fare much better, Long said.
"(Siragusa) wasn't playing well very," Long said. "He had a holding penalty and our quarterback got hit two or three times. We put Greene in to try to help that. I don't know if it helped. It doesn't seem like it did."
SDSU would most likely put up more of a fight if Siragusa and the rest of the Aztec offensive line can hold the OSU pass rush at bay. Also, the Buckeyes might want to keep an eye out for trickery that appears to exist in the Aztec offense under imaginative first-year coordinator Bob Toledo. On SDSU's only touchdown of the game, Dingwell pitched to running back Adam Muema, who then handed off to senior receiver Colin Lockett on a reverse for a first-quarter score.
But much of the offense will come down to Dingwell, who won his first four starts last year (including engineering an upset at Boise State) before struggling in his last two starts. Including the Poinsettia Bowl loss to BYU and this year's season opener, Dingwell is 39 for his last 93 with zero touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Stats Of Top Performers Vs. Eastern Illinois (2012 season)
RB: Senior Colin Lockett, 48 yards (44 yards, 4 carries)
RB: Junior Adam Muema, 17 yards, 10 carries (1,458 yards, 16 touchdowns, 237 carries)
WR: Lockett, 98 yards, eight catches (293 yards, 20 catches)
QB: Dingwell, 318 yards, 27 of 63 passing, four INTs (939 yards, eight touchdowns, 88-144 passing, seven INTs)
K: Senior kicker/punter Wes Feer, 4 of 4 on FGs, 1 of 1 PATs (No FG/PAT attempts in 2012)
LB: Junior Jake Fely, eight tackles (90 tackles, seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss)
DB: Senior Nat Berhe, seven tackles, one tackle for loss (team-high 94 tackles, two tackles for loss, two passes defended)
Last Time Out
Ohio State rebounded from a heart-breaking loss to No. 2 Texas in a big nonconference clash with a 27-6 victory against the Aztecs on Sept. 17, 2005, in Ohio Stadium.
The Aztecs jumped to a surprising 6-0 lead on an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin O'Connell to Brett Swain, but the ninth-ranked Buckeyes rattled off 27 unanswered points to claim the win.
Troy Smith rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the game, including consecutive scores in the first half that gave the Buckeyes a 14-6 lead at intermission. He finished with 149 yards passing and 87 yards on the ground against a stout SDSU defense led by Freddy Keiaho, who had a game-high 18 tackles.
Smith could have done more damage but, with the victory secured, backup quarterback Justin Zwick came in to close out the game for the Buckeyes. Zwick was 9 of 10 passing for 47 yards.
Antonio Pittman added 58 yards rushing for OSU while Roy Hall led OSU with four catches for 44 yards.
But the Ohio State defense was the story, limiting the Aztecs to just 99 total yards after Swain broke free down the left sideline on the first play from scrimmage. A.J. Hawk led the Buckeyes with eight tackles while Ohio State kept the visitors to 13 net yards rushing.
"I thought after the first play of the game, our defense was in total control," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "I think the mark of a good team is how you respond, and there was no doubt our defense responded by just shutting them down."
After Swain went to the house by breaking a short pass down the sideline, Ohio State answered by grounding out the win. A long punt return by Santonio Holmes and penalty allowed the Buckeyes to start at the Aztecs' 20 late in the quarter, and Smith ran in from 14 yards out three plays later to give OSU a 7-6 lead with 26 seconds to go in the first.
In the second quarter, OSU took advantage of another short field, and Smith capped an eight-play, 32-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to make it 14-6.
A rather boring third quarter saw OSU add a Josh Huston field goal, and the Buckeyes finally broke the game open on the final play of the stanza. Anthony Schlegel recovered a fumbled option pitch at the 1-yard line, and Brandon Schnittker went over one play into the fourth quarter to make it 24-6 and seal OSU's win.
Huston added a 39-yard field goal to his early 25-yarder, and OSU finished off the victory.