San Diego State hasn't exactly been what you'd call an offensive juggernaut. The Aztecs entered Saturday's New Mexico Bowl against Central Michigan averaging 19 points per game. For context, that ranked dead last in the Mountain West and 119th nationally. Those aren't the type of numbers you'd associate with a 10-win team, but that's exactly what San Diego State is after a thorough 48-11 blowout over Central Michigan.
In that sense, the New Mexico Bowl was off-brand for San Diego State, a team whose point differential has been less than a touchdown per game. If you ever turned on a late-night game this season to see the Aztecs, you probably saw a fourth-quarter score like 17-14, 16-13, or, if things got really crazy, 20-13. That was a byproduct of an offense with protection problems up front coupled with a truly dominant defense.
The Aztecs were more explosive against Central Michigan and they got big plays on both the ground and through the air. Quarterback Ryan Agnew, playing in his final game, had 287 yards passing, nearly 100 yards more than his season average, and three touchdowns. Running back Jordan Byrd, and Albuquerque native, had 139 yards and a touchdown. For reference, Byrd had just 216 yards and two touchdowns coming into the game on the season. Even receiver Jesse Matthews, a former walk-on, had an unexpectedly big day with 111 yards receiving and two touchdowns, when he had just 522 yards and zero touchdowns on the regular season.
Here’s a look at San Diego State’s 74 yard TD pass to Jesse Matthews, his second touchdown catch of the day: pic.twitter.com/7dUGohNH2b— ⛰🌶New Mexico Belt🌶⛰ (@HustleBelt) December 21, 2019
In all, this marked the first time San Diego State eclipsed 500 yards of offense in a game since a 52-7 win over San Jose State in November 2017.
The offensive explosion wasn't expected, but it also speaks to what is another successful season for coach Rocky Long. This marked his fourth 10-win effort in the past five years. Truly, year after year, Long has proven to be one of the most consistent, albeit under the radar, coaches in the Group of Five.
As for Central Michigan, the loss is a bitter end to what has been a pleasantly surprising season. After winning just one game a year ago, first-year coach Jim McElwain has done a nice job of getting this program back to the postseason. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the Chippewas.