By Edward Lewis, Sports Editor
Motivated. Improved. Good. Better.
There are hundreds of adjectives that can be used to describe this year’s version of the San Diego State football team. But one outlasts them all:
Before the season started, SDSU didn’t want to talk about bowl eligibility. The Aztecs didn’t care about six wins or the Poinsettia Bowl or the New Mexico Bowl — they just wanted the Mountain West Conference Championship. And any time any reporter asked about the upcoming season, he or she got a faceful of “We want that trophy” quotes.
Some media members laughed. But until last week, SDSU still had that goal within reach.
But then the Aztecs fell to TCU, 40-35, and were forced to say goodbye to their MWC Championship hopes.
Now, SDSU has made a new goal. And when reporters asked about bowl games and postseason play at Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, they got a faceful of this from senior Andrew Preston:
“Last week and the weeks before it, all we were worried about was winning the Mountain West Championship,” Preston said. “And that goal isn’t there anymore, but we do have a goal of winning 10 games and to get there we have to worry about Utah this week, so that’s all that’s on our mind right now.”
The Aztecs have three games left this season. They’re guaranteed a bowl game next month, they get 2-8 UNLV at home next week, and this week they face No. 24 / 25 Utah. They need to win all three to reach their new goal of 10 wins.
It’s a lofty goal. SDSU hasn’t won 10 games since 1977 (10-1). But that’s head coach Brady Hoke’s new motivational tool.
“We’d like to win 10 games,” Hoke said. “We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to achieve our goal of the Mountain West Championship, but winning 10 games would put us in a position that we haven’t been in since 1977. To win 10, you have to win eight. Our focus is on Utah and what we have to do this week.”
Utah is 8-2 this season and was ranked in the top five just two weeks ago. But the Utes have lost their last two games by a combined score of 75-10. And there are rumblings in Salt Lake City that head coach Kyle Whittingham might bench his sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn for senior Terrance Cain.
But, as always, these goal-driven Aztecs are cautious.
“They have so much pride and tradition and a good legacy with what they’ve done,” Hoke said. “When you have that, you believe … Those kids will be ready to play.”