All eyes will be on the running game Saturday as San Diego State hosts No. 19 Stanford in a matchup of two of the top backs in the country. San Diego State junior Rashaad Penny had 353 all-purpose yards in last Saturday’s 30-20 win over Arizona State, while Stanford junior Bryce Love has averaged 11.3 yards per carry in games against Rice and USC.
After cruising to a 62-7 win over Rice in Australia, Stanford struggled to pressure USC quarterback Sam Darnold and allowed 623 total yards in last Saturday’s 42-24 loss to the Trojans. Cardinal quarterback Keller Chryst relied on the short passing game and finished 15-of-28 for 172 yards with two touchdowns against USC, while Love gained 141 of his 160 yards in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown run. The Cardinal struggled to contain USC running backs Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr and face another tough assignment against Penny, who is averaging 206.5 rushing yards per game and leads the nation in all-purpose yards at 284 per contest. “You’re seeing what we knew all along, that he’s one of the best running backs in the country,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long told reporters.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Stanford -9.5
ABOUT STANFORD (1-1): Chryst has targeted his tight ends early and often during the first two games, with freshman Colby Parkinson and preseason All-Pac-12 selection Dalton Schultz combining for seven catches and three touchdowns. Love figures to receive another heavy workload against the Aztecs, but Chryst also has a pair of solid wide receivers in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Connor Wedington, who has a team-high nine catches for 111 yards. The defensive line struggled against USC’s size last week and will be looking to bounce back behind senior tackle Harrison Phillips, who leads the team with 16 tackles.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (2-0): The Aztecs are aiming for back-to-back wins over Pac-12 opponents after ending Arizona State’s 17-game non-conference home winning streak Saturday. Defensive end Noble Hall was named Mountain West defensive player of the week after recording five solo tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles, while safety Trey Lomax leads the team with 11 tackles. The offense revolves around the 5-11, 220-pound Penny, who had a career-high 216 rushing yards against Arizona State and scored three touchdowns on a 95-yard rush, 99-yard kickoff return and 33-yard pass reception.
1. The teams are meeting for the first time since Sept. 17, 1988, when the Cardinal rolled to a 31-10 victory at Stanford Stadium.
2. The Aztecs are 20-3 in their last 23 home games dating back to Nov. 2, 2013.
3. Stanford has won the time-of-possession battle in 28 of its past 35 games.
PREDICTION: Stanford 31, San Diego State 27