The expansion of the college football playoffs to four teams and still trying to appease the larger bowl games in particular with the Super Six, has helped the little guy. Teams outside the Power 5 conferences can scream and whine they don’t have a shot to play for the national championship, but at least they now can secure a big-time bowl game in prime time. Plus, this experience assures that particular team will go down as one the best in school history, that nobody will forget.
Here is what has happened in recent years to teams from smaller conferences.
2017 – Central Florida – Peach
2016 – Western Michigan – Cotton
2015 – Houston – Peach
2013 – Boise State – Fiesta
2012 – Northern Illinois – Orange
Though it is way too early to say for certain, San Diego State is a threat. The Aztecs have been considered a threat the last couple years, but have always managed to lose a game that was completely unexpected, like to South Alabama as -17 and -19 point favorites in 2015 and 2016.
First, let’s start with the fact Rocky Long has his way of coaching. He wants a strong running game, led by a driving-blocking offensive line. Long’s quarterback’s do not fit the mold of the Aztecs football programs of the past, they are good runners and average passers and they usually average 30 or more points a game. Long was successful at New Mexico, which is not an easy place to recruit and has been so with San Diego State.
On defense, Long uses the often confounding 3-3-5 defense which is not easy to figure out, even again Mountain West opponents who see it every year. That defense has the ability to design game plans that go right after weaknesses of the opposing team.