San Diego State (1-1) at Oregon State (2-0) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reser Stadium (45,674) -- Corvallis, Oregon. Television: FS1. Home Record: SDSU 1-0, OSU 1-0. Away Record: SDSU 0-1, OSU 1-0. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, OSU 0-0. Conference Record: SDSU 0-0, OSU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: San Diego State seeks its first road win of the season on Saturday night, as the Aztecs head to Reser Stadium to challenge the Oregon State Beavers in a non-conference battle.
The Aztecs played the first two weeks of the new season before enjoying a bye last weekend, giving them a chance to regroup following a 31-27 loss to nationally-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill. A week earlier, SDSU kicked off the 2014 campaign on the right foot with a 38-7 rout of Northern Arizona at Qualcomm Stadium.
Oregon State has enjoyed a similar road thus far, taking time off last weekend after winning the first two games of the campaign. Like SDSU, the Beavers also took down an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision in the first week with a 29-14 triumph over Portland State, but unlike the Aztecs, OSU forged on to then defeat Hawaii on the road, 38-30, the following Saturday.
Last season, the Beavers squeezed by SDSU with a 34-30 victory in California, forging a 2-2 tie in the all-time series between the squads.
After a scoreless first quarter at Kenan Stadium two weeks ago, the Aztecs fell behind by a touchdown and then rattled off three straight TDs to assume control in enemy territory, but then the offense disappeared altogether. Quarterback Quinn Kaehler converted 23-of-39 passes for 341 yards and a score, but was also picked off three times by the UNC defense, the last two coming in the final two drives of the game for the Aztecs.
Running back Donnel Pumphrey accounted for a game-high 100 yards and two TDs on 17 rushing attempts, while Chase Price carried the ball another 16 times for 71 yards in the SDSU ground attack.
Defensively, San Diego State was all over the Tar Heels through much of the first three quarters, but then it all fell apart as the team surrendered 24 points on four successive UNC possessions. Jon Sanchez finished with six tackles, one for loss, and intercepted a pass, the lone forced turnover by the Aztecs.
Kaehler, one of two walk-on starters at quarterback in the nation last season, has now thrown for at least 200 yards in 14 consecutive games, the third- longest streak in the country behind only Rakeem Cato of Marshall (31 games) and, ironically enough, Oregon State's Sean Mannion (15). However, passing yards is one thing and touchdowns/interceptions is something entirely different, and right now the SDSU signal caller has just two aerial scores against four INTs.
Helping to make up the difference is Pumphrey who has run for 211 yards, averaging close to six yards per attempt, and has landed in the end zone four times in two games.
In addition to Kaehler making some better decisions in the pocket, the other area of concern for the Aztecs heading into this weekend has to be with kickoff returns where they are 123rd in the nation with an average of only 7.7 yards per opportunity.
Unlike Kaehler, Mannion has yet to experience the lows of tossing too many interceptions this year, having been picked off only once in 82 attempts. Against Hawaii, the OSU quarterback threw a trio of TDs as he completed 26- of-37 passes for an even 300 yards. Almost half of his completions went to Victor Bolden, who caught 11 balls for a game-high 119 yards and a score.
Not to be outdone, running back Terron Ward stepped up his efforts as he ran for a game-high 124 yards and landed in the end zone twice.
Against a team that is coming off an awful 2013 season, the Beavers allowed Hawaii a bit too much elbow room and while OSU was able to limit the host to just 100 yards on the ground, there were an uncharacteristic four rushing TDs logged by the Warriors.
The early returns for the Beavers have been rather favorable, particularly in the turnover department where they are tied for fourth in the country at plus-2.0 turnovers per contest. Shutting down opponents on third down has also been a speciality of OSU, with the team ranking first in the FBS while allowing foes to convert a mere 17.9 percent of such plays for first downs.
Another strong point shows Oregon State ranked second in the country in pass efficiency defense with a rating of only 65.12 through the first three weeks of the season.
As long as the Aztecs can be productive on the ground and maintain possession of the ball they'll have a fighting chance in this meeting. The most important goal for SDSU will be to keep the ball out of the hands of Mannion and the quick-strike OSU offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 38, San Diego State 27Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 20, 10:30 p.m. (ET).