Facts & figures
Where: San Diego (pop: 1,338,348)
Colors: Scarlet and black
Record: 6-4, 5-1 Mountain West
Last game: Beat Hawaii 28-21 in overtime Saturday
Rocky Long, 63, is in his third season as the Aztecs' head coach (23-13 record). He served as San Diego State's defensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010, then was promoted after Brady Hoke left for Michigan. Long was 65-69 as headcoach at his alma mater, New Mexico, from 1998-2008. He also has coachedas an assistant at Wyoming, TCU, UCLA, Oregon State and in the CFL.
After facing an onslaught of up-tempo offenses, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said his defense will welcome facing a more traditional attack. San Diego State typically huddles, and its base offense uses a fullback and a tight end. The Aztecs have been balanced, but thrive when establishing the run. The four games they have lost also have been their four worst rushing performances. Junior Adam Muema has 958 yards rushing on 192 carries, scoring 11 touchdowns, while freshman Donnel Pumphrey has 639 yards on 98 attempts with seven scores.
Adam Dingwell started the season at quarterback, but was replaced by junior college transfer and walk-on Quinn Kaehler in the second game. Kaehler has completed 170-of-278 passes for 2,269 yards with 14 TDs and six INTs. Junior Ezell Ruffin has been his top target (54 catches, 947 yards).
Long's calling card throughout his career has been his unique 3-3-5 that features three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. Safeties in the system are called "warriors," often used to not just cover, but also blitz, and a spot called the "Aztec" is similar to the nickel Boise State has used in the past. Senior Nat Berhe has been tough in the Aztec position, with 82 tackles (27 more than any other SDSU player) and two fumble recoveries. Senior linebacker Nick Tenhaeff has 10 tackles for loss. The Aztecs are 90th nationally in scoring defense (31.2 points per game), and 107th against the pass (264.4 yards per game). They have been solid against the run, giving up 136.9 ypg. SDSU has allowed foes to score on 97 percent of red-zone drives, the worst percentage in the country.
Kickoff returner Colin Lockett is 30th in the nation with a 25.3-yard average. The Aztecs are allowing teams just 18.8 yards per kickoff return. Opponents have returned only nine punts, but one was run back for a 60-yard touchdown Aug. 31 by Eastern Illinois. Boise State is No. 2 in the country with 16.9 yards per punt return. San Diego State is 8-of-15 on field goals, but primary kicker Wes Feer is 8-of-11. Three attempts have been blocked.
Did you know?
The most points scored in a game by an individual player against another FBS team is 44, set by San Diego States Marshall Faulk. He did it as a freshman Sept. 14, 1991, against Pacific with seven touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn