San Diego State Aztecs vs. Stanford Cardinal Point Spread – Pick

San Diego State Aztecs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Friday, August 31, 2018 at 9PM EDT
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
TV: FS1

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: SDSU +14.5/STAN -14.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5

The San Diego State Aztecs make the trip north to take on the Stanford Cardinal in week one action, as both teams begin a hopeful season. Normally, nothing about San Diego St. would elicit the ire of a team of Stanford’s caliber. But three seasons with at least ten wins and the fact that the Aztecs beat the Cardinal last season put a different dimension on this game. Stanford starts their season in a tough game where the revenge-factor will be robust. And after a season where they were less of a Pac-12 factor than in recent seasons, Stanford looks to make this season a big one.

It might take some people extra time for them to process the fact that San Diego State is pretty darned good. With Rocky Long taking a team that was on its back and getting them to this point was no small feat. Long stresses power-running with a defense that is very opportunistic and that recipe is very dialed-in right now. On one hand, making an impact in the Mountain West, as opposed to the Pac-12, is a different kettle of fish, but they’ve come a long way nonetheless.

These teams have some stylistic similarities. They both play a lot of defense and often win games simply by the virtue of suffocating opposing offenses. Also adding to the formula for success are running backs that stand above their peers. With Pumphrey and then Penny, San Diego State has been blessed by difference-making backs the last handful of seasons. This season, meanwhile, Stanford comes back with Bryce Love. No other college back has returned after putting up as many yards as Love did last season. And both teams hammer opponents without a real game-changer at quarterbacks, getting more efficiency than explosiveness at that position.

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Each team has some outstanding issues, as is usually the case at this level where guys all eventually leave. With Penny now on the Seahawks, the Aztecs face the task of replacing what was a mountain of production. Lucky for them, Juwan Washington put up 749 yards last season on nearly 10 yards per touch and it would be at least somewhat surprising if he didn’t emerge as the next star in the Aztecs backfield. But a lot of other pieces return. A big chunk of their O-line, defense, and offensive playmakers return and they look for more success, starting with what would be a huge start to their season this week.

For the Cardinal, Love returns. And quarterback KJ Costello improved last season and returns, as well. Most of their offensive weaponry is back, as well, with Trenton Irwin, Kaden Smith, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside back in the mix. They still have some horsepower on defense. But on offense, they are highly-reliant on one guy. Last season, Love was ferocious against the Aztecs, but they could manage only 17 points. A more-diverse approach could help. But Stanford’s ascent over the past decade has been based a lot on defense. And while they should remain strong, they suffered massive losses up-front, have some iffy voids in the middle, and a secondary without any real stars developing on-pace. I expect that to get worked out to some extent, but is this “D” even as good as the one the Aztecs beat last season?

We understand the storyline for those who would tend to back Stanford in this spot. They’re at home this time around and unlikely to be caught off-guard after losing to this team last season. San Diego State saw their main weapon depart and no one knows what effect that will have. Meanwhile, we do know what Bryce Love can do, even to a defense like what the Aztecs bring to the table. It’s just that the result from last season might be less an aberration and just a semi-accurate barometer of the respective strength of these two programs.

A two-touchdown-plus spread, even at the college level, is pretty fat. This week in college football, UCLA is favored over Cincinnati and Texas is favored over Maryland by similar margins. It suggests a clear level of difference in the programs. But if such a gap truly exists, it hasn’t really been apparent on the football field for the last few seasons, where a naked-eye informal appraisal is that they’re both good football teams of similar caliber.

Let’s also point out, though, that there are reasons San Diego State has such little reputation in the world of college pigskin. That’s not by accident. That comes from not coming through for the most part. Last season’s win over Stanford was an accomplishment of historic proportions for this program. That’s because accomplishing anything even moderately-newsworthy has always been hard for this program. So yeah, they’re on a roll of good seasons, have talent, and seem on the right track, but how bankable are they in the big picture? How unremarkable would it be if they come into Stanford and get their butts kicked this week? It would barely register a ripple. And rightfully so.

The feeling here, however, is that there is some value on the Aztecs in this matchup. Don’t get me wrong, a 31-14 Stanford win or something like that can’t be ruled out. But when taking in the full scope of all the possibilities, more of them tend to favor San Diego State coming within the number. I’m going to take the leap-of-faith on the Aztecs here and take the points and sweat it out on Friday, as friends and family look upon disgustingly. Anyone care to join me?

Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Diego State Aztecs plus 14.5 points. Did you know… that you could be wagering on this game at discounted odds? There’s a better than good chance that you’re laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to BetAnySports Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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