San Diego State falls to Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl

Takeaways from San Diego State's loss to Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl.

The San Diego State Aztecs faced off against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in the EasyPost Hawaii Bowl. The Aztecs came into the game as a 6.5-point favorite. The Aztecs opened the game up to a quick 14-0 lead and looked to be in control even running a fake punt to pick up the first down.

The early lead jumpstarted SDSU to defensive success as the Aztecs recorded 7 sacks throughout the game. The offensive success did not last as the Aztecs only scored 9 more points the rest of the game leading to an eventual loss. Here’s what I took away from the game. 

Let’s start off with the positives. 

Aztec Defense:

San Diego State was able to bring the heat every possession. They would go on to record an impressive 7 sacks in the game. The defense was anchored by Senior All-Conference defensive lineman Jonah Tavai who had 1.5 sacks and fellow Senior Keshawn Banks recorded 2 sacks. The Aztecs also did a great job stopping the run game as the Blue Raiders had -57 rushing yards for the game. This forced Middle Tennessee to pass the ball a majority of the game which allowed the Aztec defense to take care of their side of the ball. This loss should not be placed on the defense whatsoever. Most of the points allowed came from turnovers committed by the offense giving the Blue Raiders tremendous field position. Even despite those turnovers, the defense held their own given the hand they were dealt. 


The Aztecs turned the ball over 5 times tonight in the loss including 3 interceptions from quarterback Jalen Mayden. A majority of these turnovers would lead to scores for the Blue Raiders which hurt the Aztecs down the stretch of the game. The inability to keep the ball safe played a considerable role in the upset loss. 

Lack of Offensive Production:

Despite the spectacular first-quarter start for the Aztecs they pretty much failed to get anything else going. There looked to be some miscommunication on some of the throws resulting in incompletions, as well as hurtful interceptions not always to Mayden’s fault. The Aztecs also struggled to establish any sort of run game and that hurt the passing attack as it became predictable late in the game.

Closing Remarks:

The Aztecs had their opportunities to win the game. In the end, it came down to turnovers and the lack of ability to take advantage of field position. The Aztecs had 9 points in total in the last 3 quarters which came from 3 field goals from Mountain West Special Teams Player of The Year Jack Browning. Despite the mistakes, SDSU was one drive away from finishing the season on a high note. Throughout the game, the passing attack looked strong. The Jalen Mayden takeover of the Aztec’s Quarterback role went as well as it could for the former safety. They have a lot to build on for next season.

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