Preview: San Diego State

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
September 24, 2011, 12:00 PM

TV: Big Ten Network (Eric Collins, Chris Martin, Dionne Miller)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 91 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM -10
Over/Under: 59.5
Series Record: UM leads 1-0
Last Meeting: 2004: UM 24 - SDSU 21
UM Record/Rank: 3-0 (0-0), #21/22 (AP/Coaches)
SDSU Record/Rank: 3-0 (0-0), NR
Forecast: Mostly cloudy (30% chance of showers), 60º-65º, winds calm

A little background
Six coaches from Michigan's football staff, including of course Brady Hoke, coached at San Diego State last year. How's that for starters? Al Borges was the OC at SDSU last year, and things haven't changed very much since he left. You can make the argument, and many already have, that Michigan has a very unique advantage going into this game. I believe they do.

Michigan and San Diego State have only a brief head-to-head history. They met only one time, in 2004 when Michigan topped the Aztecs 24-21. Oddly, that was the very same day I moved from Ohio to Michigan (Columbus to Ann Arbor to be more specific).

Statistical Breakdown (based on stats through week 3)
Remember that Michigan's stats against Western Michigan in week 1 are not taken into account here.

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)SAN DIEGO STATEADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)245.00 (13)197.00 (98)Rushing Defense (ypg)MICH+++
Passing Offense (ypg)216.50 (68)186.00 (36)Passing Defense (ypg)SDSU
Pass Efficiency157.60 (30)129.77 (72)Pass Efficiency DefenseMICH+
Total Offense (ypg)461.50 (24)383.00 (80)Total Defense (ypg)MICH+
Scoring Offense (ppg)33.00 (48)21.67 (48)Scoring Defense (ppg)PUSH
Rushing Defense (ypg)202.50 (103)220.67 (24)Rushing Offense (ypg)SDSU++
Passing Defense (ypg)172.00 (26)207.33 (78)Passing Offense (ypg)MICH+
Pass Efficiency Defense139.58 (92)141.37 (49)Pass EfficiencySDSU+
Total Defense (ypg)374.50 (76)428.00 (42)Total Offense (ypg)SDSU
Scoring Defense (ppg)17.00 (35)38.00 (27)Scoring Offense (ppg)PUSH
Net Punting Yards34.00 (101)9.17 (47)Punt Return YardsSDSU+
Punt Return Yards9.50 (44)31.81 (46)Net Punting YardsPUSH
Kickoff Return Yards18.43 (102)26.06 (105)Kickoff Return DefensePUSH
Kickoff Return Defense22.17 (75)24.17 (39)Kickoff Return YardsSDSU
Turnover Margin1.50 (11)2.00 (5)Turnover MarginPUSH
Penalty Yds/Game34.70 (16)33.70 (14)Penalty Yds/GamePUSH
Sacks0.50 (111)0.33 (6)Sacks AllowedSDSU+++
Sacks Allowed0.50 (12)3.00 (22)SacksPUSH
Redzone Offense (%)100.00 (1)100.00 (106)Redzone Defense (%)MICH+++
Redzone Defense (%)60.00 (15)90.91 (34)Redzone Offense (%)PUSH
Redzone TD %90.00 (7)100.00 (118)Redzone TD % DefenseMICH+++
Redzone TD % Defense40.00 (20)90.91 (6)Redzone TD %PUSH
3rd Down Conv. %51.72 (18)43.18 (86)3rd Down Defense %MICH++
3rd Down Defense %48.65 (106)47.73 (34)3rd Down Conv. %SDSU++
1st Downs Per Game19.00 (81)18.70 (58)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmSDSU
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm19.00 (62)21.00 (53)1st Downs Per GamePUSH

Difference less than 20 in national rank = Push
Difference more than 20 in national rank = Team
Difference more than 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference more than 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference more than 80 in national rank = Team+++

Common Opponents

This is the part of the preview where I breakdown what happens when Michigan has the ball, San Diego State has the ball, and of course special teams. Well, due to time constraints and external forces, we're going to feature a slightly* more condensed version.
*= drastically

What you should know about San Diego State is, they are probably better than Western Michigan, but probably not as good as Notre Dame. They feature a very good running back in Ronnie Hillman, the #2 overall rusher in the nation. He averages 165.67 yards per game and has 8 touchdowns so far this year. He's tied atop the NCAA in scoring with 16 points per game. Throwing the ball, while not SDSU's biggest weapon, is Ryan Lindley. He's best described as a "serviceable" QB. They best thing he can do is turn around and hand the ball to Hillman.

If San Diego State is going to win this game, it will be because Michigan's defense broke down and never got back up and running. We've shown so far this year, especially early in games, that we're susceptible against the run. We're going to need to be much stronger in that respect this week.

Like we said before, Michigan has a huge advantage in that we know exactly what they're going to do, and we know their personnel probably better than the current coaching staff. You can't discount how big this is.

Running the ball is going to be a big part of Michigan's gameplan tomorrow. Vincent Smith might start at RB, but he will be helped out by Fit Toussaint and probably Denard Robinson. Let's not kid ourselves, the designed QB run is still alive and well in the Al Borges offense. But Denard must get some help from his running backs. He can't shoulder the load all year. SDSU is not a very good rush defense.

Overall, Michigan should win this game. SDSU will have the chip on their shoulder, for sure. But I think Hoke has secretly had this game circled on the schedule since he got here. I would expect the Aztecs to do some weird things -- fake punt, onside kick, going for it on 4th down -- to try and rattle the Michigan coaches to throw them off.

If Michigan plays the way they played in the 4th quarter of the Notre Dame game, we should win by a couple touchdowns. If we can establish a good running game and control the line of scrimmage, then we'll be fine. But SDSU could hang around, they certainly have the talent on offense to do so.

Related content:
B1G Breakdown: Week 4
Hoke Presser Video (9/19)
Coordinators Presser Video (9/20)
Hoke, Denard Presser Video (9/21)

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