When you crush any conference opponent, 48-14, that’s quite an accomplishment, but when you do it to a team just a week after they had bulldozed a nationally ranked team, 52-26, now that is worthy of praise.
And those are the things the Aztecs did Friday night in their big win over Utah State. The Aggies, who had not lost a MW conference game, came in as definite favorites. They went home, in their own word, “embarrassed.”
On the offensive side, DJ Pumphrey had another big game with 181 yards (no losses) for an average of 7.9, and 2 TDs. Not a one-man show, because Chase Price had 97 net yards. And Maxwell Smith had another smooth performance, completing 6-10 with one for a 34-yard TD, and he ran the ball in for another TD. He’s now thrown 121 passes in 5 games with no INTs. You might not mistake him for Billy Blanton, who was inducted into the Aztec Hall of Fame that day, but he is getting to be a very smooth, winning QB!
Defensively, the Aztecs were at their best – very aggressive and looking even swifter than a team touted for its speed. We set the tone in the first quarter, when the Aggies totaled minus 11 yard rushing and 6 passing for a net loss of 6 yards, while the Aztecs rang up 17 points. Forcing 4 turnovers played a big part in the domination.
Maybe with a clue from Utah State’s experience, the Aztecs had better be careful this week, playing at Colorado State. The Rams’ 3-4 record may not look impressive, but they are a good team. Two of their losses, by a total of only 6 points, were to teams from the Big 10 and the Pac12. They lost to Minnesota 23-20, and Colorado 27-24.
The Rams have a new coach - Mike Bobo, who was the Offensive Coordinator for Georgia the last 8 years, after starring as the Bulldogs’ QB. They lost Coach Jim McElwain, who left to resurrect Florida, but they will be a tough test for our Aztecs. Their last game, before a helpful bye, was a 38-23 win over Air Force. So be ready.
One last thought: this game will be played on Halloween, and the Aztecs are scary for opponents on that date. In the eight Halloween games I’ve seen through the years, we have a 5-2-1 record, including a 20-13 win at Colorado State in 1992. We have not lost on Halloween since 1981. So, trick or treat!
Alex Barrett caused the Utah State QB to fumble to set up Maxwell Smith’s 1-yard TD run (photos by Ken Ables)