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San Diego State
San Diego State didn't get out to the best start last year, opening 1-3 with a home loss to South Alabama, but they followed that up by going undefeated in MWC play and beating Air Force in the title game. The Aztecs went on to dominate Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl to finish 11-3 with the help of this year's starting quarterback Christian Chapman. With a decent core of returning starters, more good things are expected from the Aztecs this season.
On the offensive end, Chapman takes over full-time under center, but that shouldn't be a huge deal. He did just fine in limited time last year, but the Aztecs are built on running the ball with Donnel Pumphrey, who looks ready for another loaded season after going for 1,653 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago. His backup will get plenty of work as well and that looks to be Marcus Stamps. The offensive line returns three starters, with all three of them seniors on the left side. That should help plenty in Pumphrey having another standout campaign.
The passing game is far from a certainty, but last year's leader returns in Mikah Holder (439 yards, 6 TDs) to go with Pumphrey, who actually led the team in receptions. SDSU scored 32.1 points per game last year and should be around that mark again.
It's the same on the defensive side where the Aztecs dominated the conference en route to 16.4 points per game allowed. They return studs at every level and shouldn't take much of a step back, if at all.
Cornerback Damontae Kazee returns after winning MW Defensive Player of the Year, but he's not the only skilled guy on the back end. Safety is set with a couple experienced juniors, while linebacker Calvin Munson was a force last season en route to 98 tackles and 9.5 sacks. The line is in a great spot too with senior ends Alex Barrett and Kyle Kelley leading the way.
To surpass last season's mark, SDSU would like to take down California at home, while also competing at Northern Illinois and South Alabama. It's possible the Aztecs lose all three, similar to a year ago, but after the way they closed last season, that's hard to see. In MWC play, they have a nice slate with road games at Utah State and Nevada being their toughest tests. Not having to play Boise State or Air Force out of the Mountain division is extremely favorable as well.
Even with the schedule, San Diego State's over/under is at 9.5 for the entire season (under at 5Dimes is -185), just below last season's total. But if they can win one or even two more non-conference games this year, nine wins are definitely attainable in their first 12 games. With another solid defense and just as good offense, don't expect much fall-off from the Aztecs.
2016 San Diego State Aztecs Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. New Hampshire
Sept. 10 vs. California
Sept. 17 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 1 at South Alabama
Oct. 8 vs. UNLV
Oct. 14 at Fresno State
Oct. 21 vs. San Jose State
Oct. 28 at Utah State
Nov. 5 vs. Hawaii
Nov. 12 at Nevada
Nov. 19 at Wyoming
Nov. 26 vs. Colorado State
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