By Ken Ables
After a Week 0 win over a good Ohio team, the Aztecs look to open the 2023 season 2-0 with a victory over Idaho State this Saturday, September 2, at 7:30pm PT at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium. Before we move on to the Bengals, let’s take a quick look back at the Ohio game.
The win avenged the 2018 Frisco Bowl, and improved the Aztecs’ all-time record vs. MAC teams to 16-1-1. Ohio is a good team, and they should do very well in the MAC. Before the season kicked off, it loomed large as a game that could go a long way to defining the season.
Ohio? Yes. Win, and the Aztecs almost certainly go into the UCLA game with a 2-0 record and confidence vs. the Bruins and the weeks that follow. After UCLA, the Aztecs travel to Corvallis, Oregon, for a game with the Oregon State Beavers, then welcome the Boise State Broncos on the following Friday.
Yes, the Aztecs’ first five opponents’ mascots start with the letter B. For those keeping score at home like me, thats:
One B down, four to go!
Saturday will be Idaho State’s first game of the 2023 season, and they will be led by their third head coach in three years. Although the Bengals were once a 1-AA/FCS powerhouse – 1981 National Champs, 1983 playoffs – the recent years have not been kind, with a record of 35-95 since 2011, including 1-10 last year.
This will be only the third game in the series. More than 57,000 Aztec fans were there for the first game, a 38-21 Aztec victory at Qualcomm Stadium in 2004. The crowd didn’t have to wait for the KGB SkyShow to get some explosives in Mission Valley that night. The game started with a bang when RB Michael Franklin took a handoff straight up the middle for a 67-yard touchdown.
The SkyShow, along with the Canon, and Aztec Warrior didn’t make the move over to the new Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley. So the Aztecs are going to have to provide their own firepower in this years matchup.
In last year’s game, Idaho State took an early 7-0 lead with a 75-yard TD pass on the second play of the game. The Bengals never scored again and the Aztecs ran off 38 unanswered points, led by two long TDs from Jordan Byrd (66 yard punt return and 53 yard run).
Braxton Burmeister, Cam Davis and Tyrell Shavers also scored TDs and Jack Browning added a field goal. Final score: 38-7 Aztecs, and the first Aztec win in Snapdragon Stadium.
What will happen this year? Anything other than a multiple touchdown margin by the Aztecs will be a surprise. Look for a similar score to last year. See you at Snapdragon!