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San Diego State Aztecs running game could spell gloom for Arizona Wildcats

Nov 14, 2020; Carson, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs running back Greg Bell (34) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Hawaii Warriors  during the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2020; Carson, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs running back Greg Bell (34) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Hawaii Warriors during the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona will try to end a 13-game losing streak when it plays San Diego State in its home opener on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats began the Jedd Fisch coaching era with a 24-16 loss to BYU in Las Vegas last weekend. The Aztecs opened with a 28-10 home victory over New Mexico State.

Fisch spouted optimism after a competitive effort against BYU but lamented multiple missed chances. Arizona crossed midfield on its final eight possessions but came away with just 14 offensive points. The Wildcats managed only six points in four red-zone trips.

“We were certainly very disappointed watching the tape in regard to some plays that we felt we left out there,” Fisch said. “By the same token, we were very encouraged, watching the tape, by some of the plays that we were able to make.”

Fisch was expected to have two quarterbacks split time, but he went with Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz almost the whole game. Will Plummer played one series in the second half.

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Cruz, who made only one appearance in two seasons at WSU, directed a mostly short passing game, completing 34 of 45 passes for 336 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked four times.

Wide receiver Stanley Berryhill III set career highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (102).

San Diego State, much like BYU (161 yards rushing), will test the Arizona defense on the ground.

The Aztecs gouged New Mexico State with 42 carries for 263 yards while completing just 6 of 19 throws from Jordon Brookshire. Greg Bell led the way on the ground with 161 yards on 21 rushes.

“Our offensive line came alive,” said Aztecs coach Brady Hoke, whose team trailed 10-0 at halftime.

Hoke is in the second season of his second tenure with the Aztecs, having gone 4-4 last season. He has an experienced team that should mirror last season’s strengths — running the ball and stopping the run.

The Aztecs, who finished second in rushing defense last season (98.2 yards per game), allowed 48 yards on 26 attempts in their 2021 opener.

Fisch said Monday that wide projected top receiver Jamarye Joiner (foot) and starting left tackle Jordan Morgan (leg) could play after missing the opener.

Arizona has won the past four meetings in the series, although the last game took place in the 2001 season.

Related: College Football Top 25 Rankings – Alabama still heavy favorite after crushing Miami in Week 1

–Field Level Media