San Diego State (2-2, 0-0 MWC) will head to Fresno State (2-2, 0-0 MWC) on Saturday, as they'll take on the Bulldogs in the 52nd game between these two programs.
"I think there's an established rivalry between the two schools now," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. "They used to play every year, home and home, and it got to be a big-time rivalry. Then there were several years that the two teams didn't play against each other and it was started up again last year."
Last year was the first time since 2002 that the in-state rivals faced off, so is this really a rivalry game?
"Definitely feel like it's a rivalry game," SDSU cornerback Josh Wade said. "In the past San Diego State and Fresno State have been playing against each other as rivals and just started back the tradition last year."
"This year we are looking forward to it. We don't know if the program will play them next year, so we are taking this game as a rival and going out there to have fun."
With the Aztecs switching conferences to the Big East, fans might have to wait awhile to see the "Battle for the Oil Can."
"Obviously we are playing this year, and then after this year, I don't know if we'll play Fresno again," Long said. "And I'm not sure Fresno knows if they will play us again."
Would the SDSU football program like to see this rivalry continue once the Aztecs switching to the Big East?
"I'd rather play a money game," Long said. "We go home and home with them, all we do is exchange money."
"I'd guess that since we're going to the Big East this might be the last time we play each other for a long time."
Run Robbie Run
One of the largest tests for San Diego State this weekend will be Fresno State running back Robbie Rouse who broke the school's all-time leading rushing record two weeks ago.
"He's a strong runner," Wade said. "He's a quick guy. I got to see him a little bit in high school and he's very athletic. It's going to be a challenge stopping the run and the way they spread the ball out, having guys covered at the same time. It's going to be a challenge and we have to make sure we correct those technical issues and we play really aggressive."
The talented running back is San Diego raised player, went to Madison High School.
"He [Rouse] is a good player," Long said. "I remember when I was an assistant coach, the first year that Brady Hoke was here, we tried to recruit him and he chose to go to Fresno State. He's a very good player."
Rouse has 527 rushing yards and 8 total touchdowns in four games this season.
Back to the drawing board
Aztecs special teams unit had a tough outing, gave up 253 kickoff return yards including a 97-yard touchdown last weekend against San Jose State. Walk-on wide receiver Tim Vizzi also fumbled the ball twice returning punts, lost one of them.
"Obviously we are trying to get better," Long said. "We haven't made wholesale changes personnel-wise. We have made a couple changes personnel-wise because of the way some of them played in the game. Maybe some guys can play a little bit better than that, but it's more about executing better. Both those kickoff returns, there was two guys that could have made the tackle. They didn't."
How will the special teams try to get better this week?
"Now that gets to be a problem during the year, because in practice, you don't really want to go full speed," Long said. "You don't want people tackling people in practice, because there's always a chance of an injury. So you don't do it much in practice. They just have to get better at it by doing it in the game."
Fresno State is averaging 22.9 yards per kickoff return this season.
-Freshman kicker/punter Seamus McMorrow has rejoined the team but it has yet to be determined if he will see the field this weekend against Fresno State.
-Linebacker Nick Tenhaeff (broken hand) is expected to play this weekend.
-Rocky Long thinks Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is an NFL quarterback.
"I don't know exactly where he'll be drafted but I'm guessing he's in the top three rounds," Long said.
End of a rivalry?
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