By Ernie Gonzalez (@superego1012):
The Spartans (1-5, 0-2 MW) and Bulldogs (2-2, 1-0 MW) will meet for the 81st time Saturday afternoon at CEFCU Stadium for San Jose State’s annual homecoming game.
The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 40-37-3 and are coming off a 41-21 win against Nevada. The Spartans haven’t won in over a month and have been outscored 212-39 in their last four games. But they will look to turn the tide against their long-time enemy.
SJSU’s Simpkins Stadium Center has been the home of the Valley Trophy for the last 741 days. Come Saturday, the trophy will either stay in Silicon Valley or make a trip back down south to San Joaquin Valley,
It will only be the fifth time, however, that the trophy will be at stake. The Spartans are 3-1 against Fresno State since 2013. For head coach Brent Brennan, it will be his first time as part of SJSU’s coaching staff playing for the ‘V.’
“I think the trophy is really cool,” Brennan said. “That wasn’t here when I was here before.”
Brennan enjoys the idea of making this game meaningful to the players and empowering them to play for something more, given the team isn’t in a Power 5 conference.
“You got all these teams…who play or the boot, or the bucket — Stanford-Cal has the Axe,” Brennan said. “I think it’s cool to be something like that involved with this game.
“I’m really hoping that we can have a home game environment that is hard on the opponent.”
As for that opponent, Fresno State has already won more games this season (2), than all of last year (1).
Led by redshirt freshman QB Marcus McMaryion, who stole the starting role from a couple of upperclassmen, has raised some eyebrows with the limited amount of game time this season, including those of Brennan, who expects the 2016 Oregon State redshirt to start.
“I think they are going to play Marcus,” he said confidently on Monday. “It’s not surprising for me to see him start to make an impact on their offensive football team.”
As for the Spartans, be on the lookout for true freshmen Tre Walker and Tyler Nevens again this week, as they will look to build off of their impressive performances from a week ago.
It will be interesting to see if WR Bailey Gaither gets the green light ahead of the homecoming matchup, but if it’s a go, it will probably only be on offense, not special teams.
Linebacker Frank Ginda, the nation’s’ leading tackler, had his best performance of the 2016 campaign in last year’s finale against the Bulldogs, totalling 14 tackles (four for loss) and 1.5 sacks. Look for Ginda to match that this afternoon.
Also on defense, it’s the last go-around for senior cornerback Andre Chachere against his neighborhood team. Chachere has stacked the stat sheet with everything except an interception against Fresno and will get one last crack at it Saturday night.
Obviously Chachere wants to beat Fresno, but if he does get that pick he’s been starving for against his childhood team, it will be in front of many familiar faces.
“For this game, I got a lot of them coming,” Chachere said about his family. “There’s going to be a lot of Chachere’s up there. Hopefully not in red — but in blue.”