Aug 25, 2023 - Sports

2-minute SDSU football season preview

SDSU QB Jalen Mayden

SDSU Quarterback Jalen Mayden. Photo: Sam Wasson/Getty Images

San Diego State is ready to kick off its second season at Snapdragon Stadium this weekend, and its last in college football as we know it thanks to conference realignment.

Driving the news: SDSU takes on Ohio University at the Snap at 4pm Saturday, its first of three consecutive home games to start the season.

State of play: SDSU tried its best to leave the Mountain West, but ended up staying put and watching the rest of college football realign around it.

  • The future of West Coast college football remains up in the air, but for at least another year the Aztecs are back in a Mountain West Conference, where they've been at or near the top for a decade.

Zoom in: It's not often a team moves a defensive back to quarterback mid-season and dramatically improves their passing game, but that's what happened last year when Jalen Mayden took over at QB in the sixth game of last season.

  • Before that, the Aztecs averaged just 65 yards through the air. Mayden took over and threw for 253 yards per game.
  • Mayden is back, and former SDSU QB Ryan Lindley is taking over as offensive coordinator. The tandem is stoking hopes that the Aztecs have finally figured out the passing game.

Yes, but: The Aztecs under head coach Brady Hoke have always been a defense-first team, and 2023 will be no different.

  • Safety Cedarious Barfield, linebacker Cooper McDonald, and cornerback Dezjhon Malone will be among the leaders on a defensive unit that has a lot of fresh faces up front.

Our thought bubble: The week 4 matchup against Oregon State is suddenly intriguing, after the Beavers were one of the Pac-12 teams left in the realignment lurch. They could soon end up in the Mountain West, or as partners with SDSU looking for some other solution.

The bottom line: 2022 was a down year for the Aztecs, yet they still finished above .500 and went to a bowl game for a 13th consecutive year. If Mayden and Lindley give the offense the lift some are hoping for, they'll compete for a MWC championship.

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