Thursday, December 24, 2015

San Diego State Aztecs: 2015 Hawaii Bowl Champions



Quick quiz: There are currently two FBS teams with double-digit winning streaks, with top-ranked Clemson, at 16 in a row, one of them; who’s the other?  If you answered San Diego State, collect your fake monopoly money and move on.

After jumping out to a larger-than-it-looked 21-0 lead at the half, SDSU eventually doubled that lead over the final 30 minutes before settling for a 42-7 pasting of Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl.  The win is the Aztecs’ 10th in a row, one more than College Football Playoff semifinalist Alabama’s nine.

It’s also SDSU’s 11th win on the season, tying the school record set back in 1969 under the legendary Don Coryell.  This year’s squad, the Mountain West Conference champions, had already become the fifth team in school history to reach double digits in wins and the first to do so since 1977.

From the opening kickoff — literally — there was little doubt that Rocky Long‘s crew would add to its historic season, with Rashaad Penny racing 100 yards in the first 15 seconds to give the Aztecs a lead they would never relinquish.  SDSU’s defense, which came into the game 10th nationally in points allowed (17 points per game), bookended the special teams touchdown on Alex Barrett‘s interception return for a touchdown to extend the lead to 42-0 with 9:04 remaining.

In between, running back Donnel Pumphrey, who may or may not have played his final game in an Aztec uniform, ran and passed for a touchdown, the latter being the first of his career.  Pumphrey’s backfield mate, former walk-on fullback Dakota Gordon, rushed for and caught a touchdown, the latter coming off the arm of Pumphrey.

SDSU’s defense, in addition to pitching a shutout for the first 56½ minutes, forced three turnovers, with all three being interceptions thrown by Hayden Moore.  In just his third career start, the freshman Moore, pressed onto the field because of personal issues involving starter Gunner Kiel, passed for 202 yards.  The Bearcats’ lone touchdown came on Mike Boone‘s one-yard touchdown run.

UC finishes the year 7-6, its first time winning nine or fewer games since 2010.
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