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Aztecs Opponent Profile: Who Are The Towson Tigers and What Can They Guarantee?

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A heart-pounding 3OT win over a former Mountain West foe, the Utah Utes, sent San Diego State fans back down Interstate 5 with something to write home about. After collecting yet another victory over a PAC-12 team, Brady Hoke and the Aztecs turn their sights to a lesser-known opponent. The Towson Tigers.

San Diego State will face Towson for the first time ever on Saturday, September 25th. The game will be available to watch via Stadium. However, I highly recommend making the trip to Carson for an unusual 12:30 PM kickoff time. Tailgate, kick back, and go support the Aztecs in a year crucial for conference realignment.

Now this is a “guarantee game” for SDSU. Guarantee games are ones which higher caliber FBS teams pay lower, typically FCS programs, to come to their home stadiums so that they can convincingly beat them and iron out any kinks in their play before their conference schedule begins. 

The Towson athletic department missed out on a $325,000 pay day last year when their game against the Big Ten’s Maryland Terrapins was canceled due to the pandemic. In fact, the Tiger’s whole season was canceled by their conference and was not made up in Spring 2021, unlike many other FCS schools. However, Towson will get a pay day this year. According to FBSchedules.com and a 2018 contract they obtained from Towson University, San Diego State reached an agreement to pay Towson $450,000 to come play in San Diego. Of course, the game has since been moved from SDCCU Stadium in San Diego to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson because of the development of Aztec Stadium and the Mission Valley campus.

Aztec Stadium less than one year away!

SDSU used to accept pay days and take guarantee games themselves. As the athletic department’s culture and prestige has shifted over the past twenty years or so, the Aztec men’s football and basketball teams now only pay other schools to play guarantee games at San Diego State or schedule home and home series against notable opponents. Coach Dutcher bringing the basketball team to Michigan this upcoming season being the only exception, as it was a game he could not refuse due to the history between him and the Wolverine program. 

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Although this upcoming game against Towson is supposed to be guaranteed, Hoke and his coaching staff will not look at it that way. Just two Saturdays ago, Florida State lost a guarantee game to Jacksonville State on a last-play Hail Mary touchdown. These types of games can occasionally be dangerous. However, the Aztecs look to be a far better team than the Seminoles this season. The last guarantee game that SDSU played was when Weber State came to San Diego in 2019. The only fireworks that night came after the lights shut off at SDCCU for the KGB Skyshow. The game ended in a 6-0 victory for the Aztecs with Kicker, Matt Ariza, taking home MVP honors with two made field goals. It was far from a guaranteed win.

So who exactly are the Towson Tigers? 

Image courtesy of ENPPhotography

Towson University is located in Towson, Maryland, which is a suburb roughly 8 miles north of downtown Baltimore. The Tigers play FCS football as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. Since their inaugural season in 1969, the Tigers have a modest 283–257–4 (.524) overall record. The program has reached the FCS playoffs on three different occasions in the past 10 years including 2011, 2013, and 2018. The best of which was in 2013. That year, Towson collected its first and only FBS win by defeating the UConn Huskies in Connecticut 33-18 in their opening game of the season. While finishing tied for second in the CAA, the Tigers received an at-large FCS Playoff bid. They rode the playoff wave and defeated Fordham, Eastern Illinois, and Eastern Washington before reaching the FCS National Championship Game. However, it ended in disappointing fashion, a blowout 35-7 loss to North Dakota State. Even with the Tiger’s success, they have been an extremely inconsistent program and have had five (.500) or worse seasons since 2010. All have come under the current coach, Rob Ambrose.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Aztecs, Towson is (1-2) on the season with a 31-0 victory at Morgan State, 26-14 loss at New Hampshire, and once again losing 35-7 at home to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.

Towson vs North Dakota State Highlights via Towson Football

Towson football does not travel across the Mississippi River often. Most recently was in 2013 when they flew to Frisco, Texas for the FCS National Championship game. It is their second time in program history traveling to California though. In the 2000 season, they lost 45-33 to a now non-existent Saint Mary’s team. Football was cut by the Gael’s program following the 2003 season.

The Aztecs are once again playing a team, like New Mexico State, that sat out last season. Towson players will be excited to head to the west coast and likely will arrive early to see the sights of Los Angeles. The Tigers will show up ready to play but the Aztec’s defense has seen far better balanced offenses and are once more licking their chomps. Look for Greg Bell to have his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game and for the TE/WR corp to get a lot more targets than in past weeks. SDSU should come out victorious and be (4-0) on the season for the first time since 2017. Let’s hope that Towson comes to Southern California on vacation and not on a business trip.

Andrew Serrano — Twitter: @ndrewserrano

Andrew is a San Diego State University graduate and sports enthusiast who enjoys playing below-average golf and trying new craft beers. During his time at SDSU, he was a KPBS Newsroom Assistant and NPR copywriting intern.
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