Washington State (1-0) returns to Pullman for their home opener against San Jose State (0-1). Dating back to last season, WSU is currently riding a seven-game winning streak at Martin Stadium. Transversely, the Spartans have not won on the road since their 2016 season finale at Fresno State.
Washington State and San Jose State have played a total of 12 times. The Cougs hold an all-time advantage of 7-4-1.
The last time these two teams met was 1996. Cougar legend Ryan Leaf lead Wazzu to a 52-16 victory at home.
San Jose State’s most recent triumph over WSU was a 1986 matchup in Pullman. With a final score of 20-13, it remains San Jose’s largest margin of victory over the Cougs to date.
The Spartans joined the Mountain West Conference in 2013 after posting an 11-2 record the previous season under Mike MacIntyre. Since MacIntyre’s departure for Colorado, SJSU has not been unable to find similar success.
Despite their 2015 Cure Bowl victory over Georgia State, San Jose State has not finished a complete season above .500 in five years.
Head Coach Brent Brennan, currently holding a 2-12 record with the Spartans, is amid his second season with the program.
“It’s early in the season and they’re trying to find their identity like everybody else,” Leach told the media in his Monday interview. “but they have some sleek, fast, explosive guys.”
Not the least among them is sophomore halfback Tyler Nevens. The California native comes off a quiet year in 2017 with only 670 yards and two trips to the end zone. However, he showed workhorse potential in SJSU’s season opener. With 18 touches for two scores on nearly 4.5 yards-per -carry, the Cougar defense will be keeping an eye on Nevens.
As for the quarterback position, the Spartans gave three different signal callers a shot against UC Davis last week; Montel Aaron proved himself the clear favorite. After completing 13/19 passing attempts for 254 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, its not hard to see why.
His most lethal connection is to receiver Bailey Gaither. The 6-foot-1 junior receiver caught both of Aaron’s touchdown passes. The most impressive of which went for 79 yards on a post route torching the Aggies secondary.
On defense, look for Ethan Aguayo. After moving from safety to linebacker in 2017, he leads all returning Spartans in career tackles. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound linebacker recorded a team high 12 tackles in last week’s performance. More impressively, seven of the 12 were solo and one went for loss.
SJSU will hang around for a quarter, but a clear talent disparity on both sides of the ball will show sooner or later.
After pulling ahead to an insurmountable lead with minutes to play, I imagine some redshirt guys get a handful of reps.
Cougs dispose SJSU, 41-14.