Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


With realignment drama behind them, the Aztecs can concentrate on trying to win the MW title

San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Utah Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer
San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Utah Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

While San Diego State’s administration fiddled around with possibly leaving the Mountain West, coach Brady Hoke did his best to keep his team focused on preparing for the season.

Hoke said he and his staff “pumped the brakes” a few months ago on realignment talk that consumed SDSU’s fan base ever since UCLA and Southern California announced last summer that they’re leaving for the Big Ten next year.

SDSU President Adela de la Torre got caught up in a month’s worth of realignment drama in June before the school ultimately decided at the last minute to stay in the Mountain Wes t rather than pay a sizeable exit fee and hope for an invitation to join the Pac-12. It’s a good thing they stayed because not only was no invitation to the Pac-12 forthcoming, but the Conference of Champions imploded in a matter of days this summer when six other teams decided to head to the Big Ten or Big 12 effective in 2024, leaving just four teams behind.


“We can only control, as you know, certain things,” Hoke said. “Well, our control is how our guys are in the weight room, how they’re conditioning, how they’re preparing for … the start of camp. From that standpoint, there’s not a big difference. It really isn’t.”

San Diego State hopes to be much improved on offense behind Jalen Mayden, who was converted from safety to quarterback after a dismal 2-3 start that saw the Aztecs drop to last in the country in yards passing per game. The Aztecs went 5-2 the rest of the way, with Mayden passing for 2,030 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games, with 231 yards rushing and three touchdowns, to earn a bowl berth.

The Aztecs won conference titles in 2015-2016 and made it to the championship game once since then when they were routed by Utah State in 2021.

They were picked fourth in the preseason poll.

The hometown coach


One offseason move the Aztecs did make that could pay off handsomely was to promote all-time school passing leader Ryan Lindley to offensive coordinator. The Aztecs brought in Lindley as quarterbacks coach as part of a staff shakeup when they were struggling in early October and then promoted him to coordinator after the season.

SDSU’s offense in recent years has been less than exciting, which is expected to change under Lindley. He went to El Capitan High in suburban Lakeside and then was a four-year starter at SDSU from 2008-11. He set school passing records in yards (12,690), touchdowns (90), completions (961), attempts (1,732), starts (49) and consecutive starts (44). His record of 23 victories has since been broken. Lindley had a brief NFL career before getting into coaching.

The poll

Boise State was the overwhelming preseason favorite, corralling 28 of 37 first-place votes to finish ahead of Air Force, Fresno State and San Diego State. Rounding out the poll were San Jose State, Wyoming, Colorado State, Utah State, UNLV, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico.

The Broncos

It’s not exactly a surprise that Boise State is the preseason favorite to win the MW title, considering that it’s topped the poll for the 16th straight season.

The Broncos have gone three seasons without hoisting the conference trophy, although they did make it to the title game last year before losing to Fresno State 28-16 in a reversal of the regular-season matchup, which BSU won 40-20.

BSU looks to get back to the top behind quarterback Taylen Green, who threw for 2,042 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 586 yards and 10 TDs. The rushing attack is led by George Holani, who had 1,157 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Ashton Jeanty, who ran for 821 yards and seven scores.

The Broncos have a tough opening salvo, playing at No. 10 Washington in the season opener and then hosting UCF.

Goodbye divisions

The Mountain and West divisions are gone, replaced with a single division of 12 teams, which the conference hopes will improve the chances of its champion getting a New Year’s Six Bowl bid. In the simplified setup, the top two teams in the standings will advance to the conference championship game on Dec. 2. Fresno State beat Boise State 28-16 in last season’s title game.

Playing the Pac-12

SDSU always takes great delight whenever it beats a Pac-12 opponent, and this season the Aztecs will get chances on consecutive weekends. SDSU will host UCLA at Snapdragon Stadium on Sept. 9, the first game between the teams since the Aztecs beat the Bruins 23-14 at the Rose Bowl in 2019 for their first victory in 23 games in a series dating to 1922. The following week the Aztecs will visit No. 18 Oregon State, one of the four schools that didn’t announce they were leaving the Pac-12.

Other key matchups against Pac-12 teams include Boise State at No. 10 Washington on Sept. 2; San Jose State at No. 6 USC on Saturday and at home against Oregon State on Sept. 3; Nevada at USC on Sept. 2; and Hawaii at No. 15 Oregon on Sept. 16.