Coming off of a nice win against Hawaii last weekend, San Diego State had a chance to keep their momentum rolling against Nevada. Nevada, who had lost a whopping 16 games in a row coming into the contest, had the odds stacked against them. However, their defense was able to completely stump the Aztecs as they failed to put a point on the board all game long. Quarterback Jalen Mayden completed just 6 passes all night long, and 2 field goals from Nevada kicker Brandon Talton was enough to get the job done for the Wolf Pack.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Mayden struggles to generate momentum
San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden seemed to have a tough time working the ball down the field as the Aztecs failed to score all night long. In a performance where he only threw 14 passes, just 6 of them were completed for an average of 3.4 yards. Mayden also fumbled the ball away to Nevada on a key fourth-quarter drive with 1:29 seconds left in the game. As he attempted to scramble out of a sack at the Nevada 23-yard line, the ball popped out and the Wolf Pack was able to jump on it.
It was a crucial turnover to kill the Aztec momentum on what was perhaps their last chance to try and salvage a dreadful game. Mayden and the rest of the squad will look to be able to rely on the passing game more often going forward, as 39 runs total resulted in the majority of the offense. A 3.7 QBR will simply not do the job in any competitive game.
Jack Browning’s missed kick proves critical
In what ended up being a 6-0 shutout loss, kicker Jack Browning’s miss from 34 yards early in the second quarter made a pretty big difference. While the Aztecs certainly should have been able to generate more offense and be less reliant on their kicker, the miss ended up having some heavy late-game implications. As San Diego State found themselves down 6-0 with 8:16 to go in the game, they started what ended up being their final drive of the game. A wave of rushing attempts helped them slowly but surely march down the field as they looked to get into the end zone and secure their first points of the game as well as the lead. With 2:42 left, the Aztecs faced a big 4th & 3 needing a first down from the Nevada 29-yard line. While they were able to convert and keep the drive going, just 2 plays later the ball was fumbled away and the drive came to a disappointing end. Browning’s second-quarter miss comes into play, as if he would have knocked down the kick the score would have been 6-3. This would have implied that the Aztec’s 4th & 3 could have turned into a game-tying field goal attempt. Instead, the team was forced to try and move the chains as they needed the end zone. The bottom line is that things will need to get cleaned up fast ahead of next week’s contest if the Aztecs don’t want to end up more similar situations.
SDSU allows Nevada’s first shutout win in a long time
It had been over a decade since the last time the Nevada Wolf Pack recorded a shutout win over an opponent coming into Saturday night’s game. As they faced off against the Aztecs riding a 16-game losing streak and an 0-6 record this season, they finally got the job done. The San Diego State defense did as solid of a job as they could, but it was not enough in the end. The defense managed to best Nevada in solo tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss. However, an extremely flat offensive performance from the Aztecs weighed the team down enough to lead them to a humbling loss.
It was also Nevada’s first conference win since they beat Colorado State 52-10 on November 27, 2021. The game will leave many questions for San Diego State as they try to figure out what exactly went wrong in a messy loss. Their record on the season is now 3-5, including a 1-5 record in their last 6 games after starting the season off 2-0.
The squad will have a chance to get back on track next Saturday as they stay home to face off against another conference opponent, Utah State.