FRISCO, Texas — Ohio (8-4) will take on Mountain West foe San Diego State (7-5) in the DXL Frisco Bowl on Wednesday at Toyota Stadium.
The Bobcats are coming off a historic final five weeks of the regular season, in which they scored 49 points in four of their final five games. The Aztecs, meanwhile, limped to a 1-4 finish after starting the season 6-1.
The Bobcats and Aztecs have never met. Ohio is 3-8 all time in bowl games. SDSU is 8-8.
The SDSU offense report: Coach Rocky Long, who has led the Aztecs since 2011, joins Frank Solich among the oldest active head coaches in Division I football. He has the program running as a perennial Mountain West contender. Prior to 2018, SDSU won at least 10 games in three straight seasons.
The Aztecs were well on their way to that number again, especially after a huge road win against Boise State. But injuries hampered the season aspirations, and SDSU slumped to 7-5. The previous running backs from the past couple years, Rashaad Penny and Donnel Pumphrey, are now both in the NFL, and the turnover at that position hasn’t made life easy for Long and his coaching staff.
Still, the Aztecs know how to run the football.
“It’s a lot of two backs on offense to go against us,” Ohio defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow said. “We haven’t seen that very much.”
Although Ohio has never played SDSU, there is a sense of familiarity within the coaching staff. Defensive line coach Pete Germano was an assistant at Fresno State before coming to Ohio, and during that time, he played against SDSU each season. Offensive line coach Bart Miller played for Long at New Mexico.
But that advantage only goes so deep. Ohio’s confident in its run defense. The Bobcats were a top-10 rushing defense nationally a season ago, and this season, they’re 35th in the country, averaging only 135.8 yards on the ground per game.
Players to watch: Juwan Washington and Chase Jasmin
Juwan Washington was on pace to break the 2,000-rushing yard marker, just like Pumphrey and Penny before him, but he suffered a fractured clavicle early in the season and missed a chunk of the season. In his place, Chase Jasmin filled in nicely. Jasmin has 592 yards and five touchdowns. In the eight games Washington was healthy enough to play, he had 870 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Washington will be more of a threat to the Ohio defense, but both could provide a punch the Bobcats will need to counter.