SAN DIEGO — The Fresno State Bulldogs know full well they might have to adjust on the fly against San Diego State.
The Aztecs, after all, have had 16 days to prepare for No. 15 Fresno State, and could show schemes and plays they haven't used all season.
But when it comes down to it, the Bulldogs have a strong feeling that they're going to have to stop the Aztecs' power running game and take care of the football to win Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium.
"I expect San Diego to come out with some tricks, something new," Bulldogs linebacker Donavon Lewis said. "But it all goes back to doing what they know best: They're going to run the ball. That's what they do. They want to run it down our throats. That's what it comes down to. We've got to stop it."
Fresno State (6-0, 3-0) and San Diego State (3-3, 2-0) are the last two undefeated teams in Mountain West play and Saturday night's winner could determine who represents the West Division in the conference championship Dec. 7.
The uncertainty of San Diego State's game plan puts an onus on Fresno State offensive coordinator Dave Schramm and defensive coordinator Nick Toth to identify any new wrinkles and make adjustments.
For the season, San Diego State is averaging 156.8 rushing yards per game — third-worst in the 12-team Mountain West. But during the Aztecs' three-game winning streak entering today, San Diego State has averaged 227 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry while rushing for eight touchdowns.
It'll be up to Fresno State players to match or exceed San Diego State's intensity, knowing the Aztecs will be fired up to deliver the Bulldogs' first loss.
"We can't let them hit us and come out more physical than us like they did last year," said Bulldogs safety Derron Smith, referring to San Diego State's 14-0 lead six minutes in before Fresno State came back behind five turnovers and prevailed 52-40 at Bulldog Stadium.
"We need to set the tone early on defense, and hopefully our offense will keep doing their thing and start fast as always."
San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey, a catalyst to the Aztecs' winning streak, is the first San Diego State freshman to rush for at least 100 yards in three straight games since Marshall Faulk in 1991.
Part of a one-two punch, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Pumphrey has rushed for 449 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns while 5-10, 205-pound junior Adam Muema actually has 32 more carries than Pumphrey (93) and has rushed for 338 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
Muema ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs last year.
"I thought Muema was one of the best backs in the league; Pumphrey might be the best back at San Diego," Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said. "That tells you what I think of (Pumphrey) — very explosive, a different type of running back. He's more of a Robbie Rouse, jitterbug guy.
"With what they do with their power running game, I think he does a nice job really getting some explosive runs."
But if the Aztecs veer from what they do most, DeRuyter said, the Bulldogs won't be caught off guard.
"We go into a game with a certain plan," DeRuyter said. "If things aren't the way they are going to be, because they've had additional prep time, our guys have been able to adjust.
"We'll take a little bit of a wait-and-see approach. We'll go in knowing 'Hey, this is what we anticipate.' If not, it's just part of coaching. You've just got to adjust."
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