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Huge Holiday Week preps SDSU Programs for Spotlight Saturday

SDSU’s massive three-game Thanksgiving and Black Friday slate was just the start of the Aztec’s huge lineup of matchups. Now that the Georgetown, Boise State, and USC games are in the past, the football and basketball teams must use those to build on their success and learn from their failures for an even larger set of appearances in the national spotlight.

SDSU basketball travels to Ann Arbor to face the #20 Michigan Wolverines, marking the first meeting between the programs. That matchup will be broadcast nationally on CBS at 10 am. Only two hours later at 12 pm, the Aztec football team will be playing on FOX when they host Utah State for the Mountain West Championship.

These are extremely attractive matchups and are guaranteed to pull well over a million viewers each. With both games being broadcast nationally on the same day, Aztec victories can earn the athletic department a lot of respect in the eyes of a national audience.

SDSU football has a chance to play in three straight nationally televised games: Boise St. 11/26 CBS, Utah St. 12/4 FOX, and possibly in the LA Bowl 12/18 ABC.

To start off the school’s massive three-game stretch, basketball opened play in the Wooden Legacy holiday basketball tournament on Thanksgiving night. Brian Dutcher and staff led the squad into battle with Georgetown and their NBA-legend / Monstar head coach, Patrick Ewing.

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The Tecs were tested early and it was a great game through three quarters. However, Keshad Johnson gave new life to the team with a windmill dunk that should have made Sports Center Top-10. The thunderous slam totally altered the game.

After that, they convincingly pulled away from the Hoyas, allowing just 3 points in the final 9.5 minutes. Shout out to my friend Kate, who is earning a Master’s at Georgetown Law in Washington D.C. She found it to be a criminal offense to bet against the Aztecs. SDSU locked up Georgetown 73-56 for their sixth straight win over a Big East opponent.

The main event of the weekend took place on Black Friday when SDSU faced Boise State in a win-or-go-home game, in which an Aztec victory would mean a birth in the Mountain West Championship game. In the early hours of the morning, Aztec fans weren’t shopping. Instead, they were tailgating in the Dignity Health Sports Park parking lot with Irish Coffee and breakfast burritos.

A 9 am kickoff two hours away from campus was controversial, but the Aztec faithful who came, and the million(s) watching at home, were treated with quite a show. The Broncos were up 16-3 early. It was easy to count the Aztecs out since their offense that runs the ball and controls the clock isn’t designed to come from behind.

However, after a change at the quarterback position, Jordan Brookshire led the team to a 27-16 victory. It was an impressive offensive display and the defense did its thing once more, not allowing any second-half points.

While SDSU won the first 2 of 3 games in 24 hours, the fun ended when Aztec MBB faced #24 ranked USC in the Wooden Legacy championship game. It did not go their way to say the least. Shots would not fall in a way that was very similar to the Syracuse game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year.

The first Aztec 3-pointer was made with fifteen minutes to go in the second half. The team’s leading scorer this season, Matt Bradley, had zero points until there was one minute remaining in the game. It was ugly to watch and the team must hit the practice courts hard.

They expect to be a tournament team again but desperately need to iron out their offensive play. The Trojans played sloppy too but were able to play solid defense and out-rebound SDSU, which led to many second-chance points and a 58-43 victory over the Aztecs.

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That was SDSU’s first loss to a ranked opponent since #1 Duke defeated them in 2018 and first loss to a California school when Fresno downed them later that same season. As much as we despise losing to a Pac-12 school in Southern California, there are bigger fish to fry next week.

To start off Saturday, December 4th, we get treated to an unusual game that Brian Dutcher was able to schedule with his former team, Michigan. At Michigan, Brian Dutcher was Assistant to his predecessor Steve Fisher, who took the reigns of the 1989 Wolverines in the NCAA tournament and eventually won the national title.

Dutcher was a crucial piece to Michigan’s Fab Five teams and their additional two Final Four victories and NCAA championship appearances in 1992 and 1993, which were eventually vacated for members of the team violating NCAA rules.

Of course, those events led to the firing of Steve Fisher at UM and the eventual turnaround of SDSU basketball when Fisher accepted the role of head coach on the Mesa. He asked Dutcher to come with him to San Diego and the rest was history. Dutcher still maintains a good relationship with members of that legendary team, one of which is current Michigan head coach, Juwan Howard.

The Wolverines were ranked as high as #4 this season but after two losses to Seton Hall and Arizona, they’ve dropped down to #20. Before their game with the Aztecs, the Wolverines travel to North Carolina to face the blue-blood Tarheels. Regardless of that outcome, SDSU gets a chance to take down a ranked team Saturday on big boy CBS.

The most important SDSU game of the year will take place later that day in Carson when they face Utah State in the MWC Championship game on FOX. This will be the 12th and final game that the Aztecs play at Dignity Health Sports Park before moving to Aztec Stadium in San Diego next season.

In my eyes, Utah State owes all their glory to the schedule they played—or didn’t play. The Aggies were fortunate enough to not have to face the top three teams in the West Division during their regular season. Boise played all three teams and Air Force played two. Regardless, USU gets to travel out West next week and face an elite defense. SDSU’s chance to #Win22 is here.

Learn more Aztecs Football history with GO AZTECS! by Tom Ables. Photography by Ernie Anderson and others. Click below to get your copy today!

Andrew Serrano — Twitter: @sirandys

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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