Arizona vs. San Diego State Odds & Picks: Aztecs to Cover Spread

Arizona vs. San Diego State Odds & Picks: Aztecs to Cover Spread article feature image

Via Tom Hauck/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick McMorris #33 of the San Diego State Aztecs leads the team out against the Boise State Broncos on November 26, 2021 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Arizona vs. San Diego State Odds

Saturday, Sept. 3
3:30 p.m. ET
Arizona Odds
-112o / -110u
San Diego State Odds
-112o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Arizona and San Diego State meet once again to open their seasons at the Aztecs' new Snapdragon Stadium.

Arizona is now in year two under Jedd Fisch after going just 1-11 in 2021. The good news is that Fisch will have a lot of starters returning and brought in some talent in via the transfer portal. That means Arizona looks to be on its way out of the Pac-12 basement.

San Diego State is coming off of a berth in the Mountain West title game and a 12-2 season in 2021, which included a 38-14 win in Tucson.

Brady Hoke has a lot to replace on offense, but the core of the best defense in the Mountain West is still there. The Aztecs will once again be vying for the conference title.

Arizona Wildcats

Will de Laura, Cowing Transform Wildcats' Offense?

Arizona was abysmal on offense last season. The Wildcats averaged only 4.7 yards per play (114th in FBS), ranked 110th in Success Rate, 103rd in EPA/Play and 126th in Finishing Drives.

So, what did Fisch do to change that? He went out via the transfer portal and got Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura.

de Laura is an interesting quarterback. At Washington State, he was above average while putting up a 76.9 PFF passing grade and averaging 7.7 yards per attempt with 25 Big Time Throws.

The problem is he's not going to have a very good offensive line in front of him.

Last season, Arizona's offensive line allowed a whopping 35 sacks and ranked 82nd in Havoc Allowed. Arizona was also 100th in Offensive Line Yards, which is the main reason why the unit only averaged 3.7 yards per carry.

This season, only three starters return with 57 combined career starts.

Consequently, even though all of the running backs return this season, the Wildcats' rushing attack is unlikely to drastically improve.

Arizona did pick up an elite wide receiver in the transfer portal in UTEP's Jacob Cowing. Cowing dominated the Conference USA last season by putting up over 1,200 yards and had a 90.0 PFF receiving grade.

@UTEPFootball's Jacob Cowing: Highest-graded WR in WK0 (91.3)

158 yards on just FIVE

— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 30, 2021

The problem is Arizona is losing its top three pass catchers from last season, so Cowing will see double teams frequently.

Wildcats' Defense Revamped Under Nansen

Dom Brown has left Tucson after one season, which means Arizona will have its seventh different defensive coordinator in the last 11 seasons.

Johnny Nansen will take over as the new defensive coordinator after spending the last two years as the defensive line coach for UCLA.

Nansen gets eight starters back from last season's team that was 96th in EPA/Play Allowed and 122nd in Finishing Drives.

The defensive line loses two starters but brings in a couple of transfers from USC and UCLA. Again, this will be the first game in a new defensive scheme for Arizona while going up against the rush-heavy San Diego State offense.

The linebacking corps loses its top tackler, Anthony Purdy, which is a huge loss. Nansen went out and brought in a bunch of Power Five transfers to help fill the void, but again, this is a new system.

The secondary has everyone back, but this is a unit that allowed 8.3 yards per pass attempt (105th in FBS) and was 128th in Explosive Passing Allowed.

San Diego State Aztecs

Burmeister Will Lead the Aztec Offense

San Diego State is one of the most methodically rush-heavy offenses outside of the service academies.

The Aztecs were 113th in plays per minute last season and ran the ball on 59.3% of their offensive snaps. They weren't that successful in doing so because they were 98th in Offensive Success Rate and 118th in EPA/Play.

San Diego State may become more of a viable passing attack with Braxton Burmeister coming over from Virginia Tech. He had an up-and-down season in Blacksburg last season while posting a 70.3 PFF passing grade and averaging 7.7 yards per attempt.

He put up 89+ passing grades against North Carolina and Duke but failed to get over 75 in any other game throughout the season.

Burmeister will have San Diego State's top wideout from last year in Jesse Matthews to throw to. Matthews had nine touchdowns and a 78.3 PFF receiving grade in 2021.


San Diego State WINS

— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) October 16, 2021

San Diego State is losing a lot on its offensive line with just two starters returning. Lead back Greg Bell is also gone, but his brother Chance Bell will assume the lead-back role and actually averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 70+ attempts in 2021.

Hoke's Aztec Defense Should Be Strong Again

The San Diego State defense was one of the more underrated units in college football last year.

The Aztecs finished 2021 sixth in EPA/Play, sixth in Success Rate Allowed and allowed only 4.6 yards per play (ninth in FBS).

The defensive line was the main reason why the Aztecs were so stout, ranking inside the top 10 in Defensive Line Yards and Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

Unfortunately, San Diego State loses Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cameron Thomas, but three starters are back. Hoke also added a couple transfers to help with depth, so this should still be the best defensive line in the Mountain West.

San Diego State is getting two All-Mountain West linebackers back in Patrick McMorris and Caden McDonald — along with starter Michael Shawcroft — so this front seven should be incredible once again this season.

San Diego State DB Patrick McMorris does a good job of showing off his range and ball skills!

— Robert Cardona (@CARDONAFAM29) June 19, 2022

The secondary does lose two All-Mountain West performers from last season, but Hoke has five defensive backs with starting experience returning, so the drop off shouldn't be too drastic

Arizona vs. San Diego State Betting Pick

The Aztecs won this game 38-14 last season in Tucson, and even though the Wildcats added a couple of pieces on offense, they are still implementing a new scheme on the defensive side of the ball and have a weak offensive line going up against an elite front seven.

I have the Aztecs projected at -11.3, so I like the value on them at -5.5 (FanDuel) and would play them up to -7.

Pick: San Diego State -5.5

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