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For information on all San Diego State University sports, see San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State Aztecs football
2023 San Diego State Aztecs football team
First season1921
Athletic directorJohn David Wicker
Head coachSean Lewis
1st season, 0–0 (–)
StadiumSnapdragon Stadium
(capacity: 35,000)
Field surfaceGrass
LocationSan Diego, California
ConferenceMountain West
DivisionWest (2013–2019, 2021–present)
All-time record589–438–32 (.571)
Bowl record10–10 (.500)
Claimed national titles3 Div II: (1966, 1967, 1968)
Conference titles21
Division titles6 (MW, West)
RivalriesFresno State (rivalry)
San Jose State (El Camino Real Rivalry)
Consensus All-Americans11
ColorsScarlet and black[1]
Fight song“Fight On”
MascotMontezuma (The Aztec Warrior)
Marching bandMarching Aztecs

The San Diego State Aztecs football team represents San Diego State University in the sport of American football. The Aztecs compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the West Division of the Mountain West Conference (MW). They are coached by Brady Hoke and started playing at the new Snapdragon Stadium in 2022. They have won 21 conference championships[2] and three national championships at the small college division.[3]

They were scheduled to become a football-only member of the Big East Conference in July 2013, but on January 17, the Mountain West's board of directors voted to reinstate San Diego State.


See also: List of San Diego State Aztecs football seasons

Early history (1921–1935)

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San Diego State University was originally two separate schools. San Diego Normal School had school colors of white and gold. San Diego Junior College had school colors of blue and gold. They decided to merge schools in 1921 to form San Diego State College. The first school colors of SDSC were blue, white and gold. During the 1921 school year they had their first football game. The central athletic figure at San Diego State at the time was Charles E. Peterson. He had originally been appointed in 1916 as a physical education instructor. After serving in World War I, President Hardy prevailed upon him to return and oversee the school's athletics program. Initially, Peterson taught all the men's physical education classes and coached all the intercollegiate teams. After the athletic teams were established in 1921, media referred to the teams as "Staters" or "professors". The school newspaper tried to encourage "Wampus Cats" during its coverage of the 1923–24 school year. In the fall of 1924, Athletic Director C.E. Peterson urged the students to select a nickname and the school newspaper, The Paper Lantern, invited suggestions. Over the next few issues, names such as Panthers, Balboans and Thoroughbreds were suggested and submitted to a committee of Dean Al Peterson, C.E. Peterson and a student. In 1925, student leaders chose the nickname "Aztecs" over such other suggestions as "Balboans". They felt the terminology was more representative of a southwest image and the selection met with no dissent. In February 1925, President Hardy gave his formal approval to the "Aztec" nickname and teams adopted that identity within a week.

Purple and gold were adopted for the 1922–23 term but this became a problem because the colors were the same as San Diego's St. Augustine High School. It didn't go over very well when one couldn't tell the difference between an Aztec letterman's sweater and a high school sweater. Also, purple and gold were the colors of Whittier College, a fierce conference rival at the time. Not to mention the fact that manufacturers of Aztec merchandise in that era refused to guarantee the color fastness of San Diego State's purple hues. Associated Students president Terrence Geddis led the movement for a change and, after pushing for reconsideration of school colors, students finally got a chance to vote on the matter in December 1927. That was followed by two days of voting the following month where students were to decide between Scarlet and Black and the previous colors, Purple and Gold. On January 19, 1928 the tally was 346–201 in favor of Scarlet and Black and it has remained that ever since.

Small college era (1936–1968)

Don Coryell impact

Don Coryell became the SDSC head coach in 1961, while in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. He led the Aztecs to two "small college" undefeated seasons in 1966 and 1968 and from the College Division (now split into Divisions II and III, with the current D-II championship considered to be the successor to the College Division championship) to the University Division (now NCAA Division I, since divided into FBS and FCS) in 1969.

Pacific Coast Athletic Association era (1969–1977)

San Diego State was a charter member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, which was founded on July 1, 1969 and later became the Big West Conference.

Don Coryell continuing legacy

Coryell was head coach for a total of 12 seasons with the Aztecs, using the philosophy of recruiting only junior college players. There, he compiled a record of 104 wins, 19 losses and 2 ties including a total of three undefeated seasons in 1966, 1968, and 1969. His teams had winning streaks of 31 and 25 games, and won three bowl games during his tenure. It was at SDSC that Coryell began to emphasize a passing offense and he recounted, "We could only recruit a limited number of runners and linemen against schools like USC and UCLA. And there were a lot of kids in southern California passing and catching the ball. There seemed to be a deeper supply of quarterbacks and receivers. And the passing game was also open to some new ideas." Coryell added, "Finally we decided it's crazy that we can win games by throwing the ball without the best personnel. So we threw the hell out of the ball and won some games. When we started doing that, we were like 55–5–1." John Madden served as Coryell's defensive assistant at SDSC. Madden had first met Coryell attending a coaching clinic on the I formation led by McKay. "We'd go to these clinics, and afterward, everyone would run up to talk to McKay", said Madden. "Coryell was there because he introduced (McKay). I was thinking, 'If (McKay) learned from him, I'll go talk to (Coryell).'" At San Diego State, Coryell helped develop a number of quarterbacks for the NFL, including Don Horn, Jesse Freitas, Dennis Shaw and future NFL MVP Brian Sipe. Wide receivers who went on to the NFL include Isaac Curtis, Gary Garrison, Ken Burrow, and Haven Moses. Coryell also coached two players who later became actors: Fred Dryer and Carl Weathers. Following the 1972 season, he moved to the NFL and became head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.[4]

Western Athletic Conference era (1978–1999)

The Big 80's

During the 1980s at San Diego State, the Aztecs were led by record-setting quarterbacks Todd Santos and Dan McGwire, who later became the tallest quarterback in the history of the NFL (in 1991). The Aztecs won the WAC Championship in 1986 and played at home in the Holiday Bowl against Iowa, but lost by a point 39–38. In 1990, the team played Miami in a game that featured violent fights and a near upset.[5][6]

Marshall Faulk's impact

Marshall Faulk was a standout high school athlete who played both running back and cornerback. Faulk received several recruitment offers from the top colleges in the NCAA, but because of his standout performance on defense, intercepting 11 passes as a senior, he was primarily recruited to play as a defensive back. He ended up accepting an athletic scholarship to attend San Diego State, because they were the first school to offer him a scholarship to play the running back position.[citation needed] Faulk was recruited by Curtis Johnson, and coached by Bret Ingalls and future New Orleans Saints head coach, Sean Payton. In one of the most prolific performances of his entire career, he ran all over the University of the Pacific in just his second collegiate game on September 14, 1991. In 37 carries, he racked up 386 yards and scored seven touchdowns, both records for freshmen (the 386 yards were then an NCAA record). "Faulk had scoring runs of 61, 7, 47, 9, 5, 8 and 25 yards." That performance sparked one of the greatest freshman seasons in NCAA history, gaining 1,429 yards rushing, with 23 total touchdowns (21 rushing), and 140 points scored. Faulk went on to better 1,600 yards rushing in his sophomore year. In Faulk's junior season in 1993, he was finally able to showcase his all-purpose ability by catching 47 passes for 640 yards and 3 touchdowns to go with 1,530 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. These numbers put Faulk 3rd in the nation in all-purpose yardage that year, and 2nd in scoring.

Faulk left San Diego State with many of the school's offensive records, among them 5,562 all-purpose yards and 62 career touchdowns, which is the 8th most in NCAA history. After his 1992 season at SDSU, Faulk finished second in the Heisman Trophy award, losing to quarterback Gino Torretta in what was considered a notable snub in the history of the award Torretta's Miami Hurricanes had again gone undefeated in the regular season and was ranked No. 1 in the country before the Heisman balloting, Faulk's team finished with a middling 5–5–1 record, continuing a trend of the Heisman going to the most notable player on one of the nation's best teams. He was a Heisman finalist as well in 1991 (9th) and 1993 (4th). With a year of eligibility remaining, Faulk declared for the NFL draft and was the second overall selection in April 1994. He went on to make 7 Pro Bowls and win three NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards during his NFL career. In 2017, he was enshrined to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Mountain West Conference era (2000–present)

The Aztecs attempt a field goal during a 2007 game against Mountain West Conference opponent Air Force in 2007
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In the year 2000, San Diego State became a charter member of the Mountain West Conference.

Brady Hoke (first tenure)

In December 2008, Brady Hoke was hired as the 17th head football coach at San Diego State. Hoke signed a five-year contract with a guaranteed payment of $3.525 million, plus incentives for hitting revenue marks and bowl berths. San Diego State was also required to pay $240,000 to buy out the remaining two years on Hoke's contract at Ball State. San Diego State compiled a 2–10 record the year before Hoke arrived. In 2009, Hoke led the Aztecs to a record of 4–8. During the 2010 season, Hoke's team improved to 9–4. Two of the Aztecs' losses in 2010 came in close matches against ranked opponents. The Aztecs gave the undefeated, No. 2 TCU team its closest game of the regular season, losing by a score of 40–35. Hoke's team also lost a close game against No. 12 Missouri by a score of 27–24. The team concluded its season with a 35–14 win over Navy in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Prior to the 2010 season, San Diego State had not won nine games in a season since 1977 when they went 10–1 finishing 16th in the API and had not played in a bowl game since the 1998 team lost in the Las Vegas Bowl. After the 2010 season, a reporter for the Orange County Register wrote that Hoke had given San Diego State "swagger."

Rocky Long tenure

After Hoke accepted the head coaching job at Michigan defensive coordinator Rocky Long was immediately named the new head coach. Long served as the head coach of New Mexico from 1998–2008 where he compiled 65 victories and 5 bowl game appearances in 10 years. During his first five years as head coach of the Aztecs (2011–2015), he led the Aztecs to five bowl games and won San Diego State's first MW title in 2012 (shared), followed by an outright MW Championship in 2015. As of January 1, 2016, he has a 43–23 overall record as head coach of the Aztecs with a 30–9 conference record. In 2015, San Diego State earned an 11–3 record under Long, culminating with a 42–7 victory over Cincinnati.

Win 21

With the backing of San Diego State's "Win 21" campaign, the Aztecs notched their 21st conference championship in 2016 by winning the Mountain West championship game vs. the Wyoming Cowboys.

Head coaches

Main article: List of San Diego State Aztecs head football coaches


National championships

SDSU has won 3 NCAA national championships at the Division II level.[3]

Season Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1966 California Collegiate Athletic Association Don Coryell 11–0 5–0
1967 California Collegiate Athletic Association Don Coryell 10–1 5–0
1968 Independent Don Coryell 9–0–1 N/A

Conference championships

Season Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1922 Southern California Junior College Conference C. E. Peterson 6–4 4–0
1923 C. E. Peterson 8–2 2–0
1924 C. E. Peterson 7–1–2 3–0
1936 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Leo B. Calland 6–1–1 5–0
1937 Leo B. Calland 7–1 4–1
1950 California Collegiate Athletic Association Bill Schutte 5–3–1 3–0–1
1951 Bill Schutte 10–0–1 4–0
1962 Don Coryell 8–2 6–0
1963[7] Don Coryell 7-2 4-1
1966 Don Coryell 11–0 5–0
1967 Don Coryell 10–1 5–0
1969 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Don Coryell 11–0 6–0
1970 Don Coryell 9–2 5–1
1972 Don Coryell 10–1 4–0
1973 Claude Gilbert 9–1–1 3–0–1
1974 Claude Gilbert 8–2–1 4–0
1986 Western Athletic Conference Denny Stolz 8–4 7–1
2012 Mountain West Conference Rocky Long 9–4 7–1
2015 Rocky Long 11–3 8–0
2016 Rocky Long 11–3 6–2

† Co-champions

Division championships

Following the 1995 season the Western Athletic Conference split into Mountain and Pacific divisions with the division champions meeting in the WAC Championship Game. San Diego State left the WAC after the 1998 season to become a charter member of the new Mountain West Conference. Following the 2012 season, the Mountain West Conference split into Mountain and West divisions with the division champions meeting in the Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game. San Diego State has been champion (or co-champion) of a division six times and have appeared in three conference championship games.

Season Division Coach Opponent CG result
1998 WAC - Pacific Division Ted Tollner DNQ - Lost tiebreaker to BYU
2014 MW - West Division Rocky Long DNQ - Lost tiebreaker to Fresno State
2015 Air Force W 27–24
2016 Wyoming W 27–24
2019 DNQ - Lost tiebreaker to Hawaii
2021 Brady Hoke Utah State L 13–46

† Co-champion and did not qualify for conference championship game

All-time record vs. current MW teams

Official record against all current MW opponents as of November 14, 2021.[8][failed verification]

Opponent Games Played Won Lost Ties Percentage Streak First Meeting
Air Force 37 18 20 0 .486 Lost 1 1980
Boise State 8 4 4 0 .500 Lost 1 2011
Colorado State 36 22 14 0 .611 Won 2 1978
Fresno State 61 30 27 4 .525 Lost 2 1923
Hawaii 37 24 11 2 .676 Won 3 1939
Nevada 15 9 6 0 .571 Won 2 1945
New Mexico 43 29 15 0 .651 Won 9 1953
San Jose State 45 24 20 2 .533 Won 2 1935
UNLV 31 23 9 0 .677 Won 4 1977
Utah State 13 13 3 0 .813 Lost 1 1947
Wyoming 38 19 19 0 .500 Won 2 1978

Bowl games

SDSU is 10–10 all time in post-season bowl games. They first went to a bowl game in 1948 and first won a major-college bowl game in 1969.[9]

Date Coach Bowl Opponent Result
January 1, 1948 Bill Schutte Harbor Bowl Hardin–Simmons L 0–53
January 1, 1952 Bill Schutte Pineapple Bowl Hawaii W 34–13
December 10, 1966 Don Coryell Camellia Bowl Montana State W 28–7
December 9, 1967 Don Coryell Camellia Bowl San Francisco State W 27–6
December 6, 1969 Don Coryell Pasadena Bowl Boston University W 28–7
December 30, 1986 Denny Stolz Holiday Bowl Iowa L 38–39
December 30, 1991 Al Luginbill Freedom Bowl Tulsa L 17–28
December 19, 1998 Ted Tollner Las Vegas Bowl North Carolina L 13–20
December 23, 2010 Brady Hoke Poinsettia Bowl Navy W 35–14
December 17, 2011 Rocky Long New Orleans Bowl Louisiana–Lafayette L 30–32
December 20, 2012 Rocky Long Poinsettia Bowl BYU L 6–23
December 21, 2013 Rocky Long Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Buffalo W 49–24
December 23, 2014 Rocky Long Poinsettia Bowl Navy L 16–17
December 24, 2015 Rocky Long Hawaii Bowl Cincinnati W 42–7
December 17, 2016 Rocky Long Las Vegas Bowl Houston W 34–10
December 23, 2017 Rocky Long Armed Forces Bowl Army L 35–42
December 19, 2018 Rocky Long Frisco Bowl Ohio L 0–27
December 21, 2019 Rocky Long New Mexico Bowl Central Michigan W 48–11
December 21, 2021 Brady Hoke Frisco Bowl UTSA W 38–24
December 24, 2022 Brady Hoke Hawaii Bowl Middle Tennessee L 23–25

Rankings from the AP poll

On November 29, 1981, San Diego State played the Air Force Falcons in the Mitsubishi Mirage Bowl at Tokyo Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan which was a regular season game sponsored by the Mitsubishi Motors, losing 21–16. It is not considered a sanctioned bowl and does not reflect on San Diego States's all-time bowl record.


Balboa Stadium (1921–1935)

Main article: Balboa Stadium

Balboa Stadium

The Aztecs (formerly "Staters") began playing football when SDSU was still known as San Diego Normal School and then San Diego State Teacher's College, and located on Park Boulevard in University Heights. During this period, the football team called Balboa Stadium home (formerly "City Stadium"). At the time, the seating capacity for Balboa Stadium was 15,000. It was later expanded to 34,000 capacity and served as the home stadium for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League (AFL) from 1961 to 1966.

Aztec Bowl (1935–1966)

Main article: Aztec Bowl (stadium)

Aztec Bowl (historic site as it exists today) is now the site of Viejas Arena

After the University relocated from University Heights to its current location in 1931, accommodations were made on the new campus for a football stadium to be constructed beginning in 1933. The Aztecs played their home games in the on-campus Aztec Bowl during the 30-year period between 1936 and 1966. At the time of its completion in 1936, Aztec Bowl could accommodate 7,500 fans and was the only state college stadium in California. The stadium's capacity was later expanded to a seating capacity of 12,592 fans in 1948. Given the growth of the college and its fan base, the Aztecs found themselves in need of a larger venue, but the previously proposed expansion to 45,000 seats was delayed until 1966. During this final year in Aztec Bowl, the Aztecs won their first of three consecutive "small college" (Division II) National Championships. About 80% of Aztec Bowl was covered up (rather than demolished) in 1996 to make way for Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (formerly named Cox Arena), current home of the San Diego State Aztecs men's basketball and women's basketball teams. Formerly listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a portion of Aztec Bowl remains visible on the north side of Viejas Arena.

San Diego Stadium (1967–2019)

Main article: San Diego Stadium

SDCCU Stadium – SDSU Aztecs vs UCLA College Football

From its opening in 1967 through the 2019 season, San Diego Stadium had been the home of San Diego State University Aztecs football. San Diego Stadium, also known as Jack Murphy Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, and SDCCU Stadium during its existence, was a multi-purpose stadium located in the Mission Valley area of San Diego, about 5 miles from campus. The campus and stadium have been connected by the San Diego Trolley since 2005.

The stadium had also been home to the NFL's San Diego Chargers from 1967 to 2016, and also hosted the San Diego Padres from 19692003. It also hosted the Holiday Bowl and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl college football games every December. The stadium hosted three Super Bowl games, two Major League Baseball All-Star Games, and two World Series. It is the only stadium ever to host both the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same year (1998).

Playing in a professional sports facility provided some benefits including improved concessions, luxury suites, "jumbo-tron" screens and other amenities for Aztecs fans. However, the increasing capacity of the stadium (from 52,596 in 1967 to 70,561 in 2015) created a mismatch for a college football program that drew an average of 29,065 fans to home games in 2015—during an 11–3 MW Championship season, which was their best performance since joining Division I in 1969. The facility was frequently filled to less than 40% of capacity. In their final years in the facility, the Aztecs tarped off significant sections of the upper seating bowl for their games, creating a reduced capacity of 54,000.

On September 15, 2020, the school announced that the stadium would be demolished in early 2021, rather than being demolished after completion of Aztec Stadium as planned.[10] As a result of the delay of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 season was the final season of Aztecs football at the stadium. The final home game was on November 30, 2019 against BYU, where San Diego State won 13–3.

Dignity Health Sports Park (2020–2021)

Main article: Dignity Health Sports Park

On September 15, 2020, the school announced that the Aztecs would play football at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California for the 2020 and 2021 football seasons while the program's new Snapdragon Stadium was being built. The decision was made primarily to allow for SDCCU Stadium to be demolished in spring 2021 to allow for construction of the new stadium to be expedited.[11]

Snapdragon Stadium (2022–)

Main article: Snapdragon Stadium

In 2015, the San Diego Chargers stepped up their efforts to relocate to Los Angeles, pending a vote of National Football League owners and a partnership with the Oakland Raiders or St. Louis Rams. In the face of this development, contingency plans were generated for the future use of the then-current SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley. One proposal put forward by State Senator Marty Block was for San Diego State to take over use of the site in order to expand the campus and also provide for a new multi-use 40,000-seat stadium for Aztecs football and a Major League Soccer team. There were two plans for the newly-vacant stadium land. The first was SDSU West, later renamed SDSU Mission Valley, which called for expanding the campus to Mission Valley and creating a stadium built primarily for San Diego State athletics, as well as new educational facilities for students. The second plan, entitled Soccer City, would use the land solely to build a new stadium housing both San Diego State athletics and an MLS team.[12]

On January 13, 2016, the Chargers gained NFL approval to join the Rams in a move to Los Angeles. On January 12, 2017, the Chargers announced that they would move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season. On November 6, 2018, SDSU Mission Valley would be approved on the San Diego ballot, besting Soccer City (committee supporting the MLS soccer route instead of expanding the campus and making an on-campus stadium).

On December 5, 2019, the school announced receipt of a $15 million gift to help finance the new stadium, which would be named Bashor Field at Aztec Stadium. The school announced plans to begin construction of Aztec Stadium in April 2020, with anticipated completion in time for the 2022 season and the Aztecs' September 3, 2022 matchup against Arizona.[13] During construction, Qualcomm, which had once sponsored San Diego Stadium, entered into a naming rights contract with the university. The new stadium will accordingly open as Snapdragon Stadium, bearing the name of Qualcomm's system-on-chip.[14]


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Night games

Night games have become a San Diego State University football tradition. The first SDSU night game was played on September 25, 1930 at Lane Field. Over 5,000 fans attended the game to watch the Aztecs beat the San Diego Marines 39–0. Since that day, over 75% of all Aztec games, home and away, have been played at night.


The first Aztec Warrior figure associated with the university initially appeared at a San Diego State athletic event over six decades ago. Art Munzig played the original role in a skit during halftime at the San Diego State-Pomona football game kicking off the 1941 football season. The school's Rally Committee came up with the idea based on the ruler of the Aztec empire in the early 1500s, Moctezuma II. The character, affectionately known as "Monty" to generations of SDSU alumni, evolved through the years to become emblematic of San Diego State's athletic teams.

For decades the role was filled mostly by students. In 1983, however, Director of Athletics Mary Hill directed Montezuma to adopt a more dignified persona. During that football season, Monty sat atop a pyramid among his attendants on the sidelines at Jack Murphy Stadium. That lasted one year. The next season Moctezuma resumed his more traditional role of involvement and encouragement of Aztec football fans.

Beginning in 2000, some student groups began to propose the university alter its Aztec identity. The new mascot made his first public appearance February 23, 2004 to reveal some costume changes and the modified moniker, "Aztec Warrior." For all but a few years from the early 1990s through 2006, Carlos Gutierrez took over the role of mascot, raising the position's profile and expanding public appearances throughout the San Diego community. In April 2006, the SDSU Alumni Association sponsored student auditions for a new Aztec Warrior.

Warrior Walk

The team accompanied by the San Diego State Marching Aztecs Drumline, additional members of the spirit squad, and fans walk from the stadium parking lot to the tunnel which leads the team onto the field. This usually occurs two hours before kickoff.

Honorary Warrior

An honorary team captain, usually a former player of the team, leads the team onto the field before kickoff.

Warrior Shield

An Aztec warrior shield that the accompanies the team on the sidelines during home and away games. The shield is held high by the captains during the singing of the Fight Song following victories.

Old Oil Can

This bitter rivalry dates back many moons. The trophy is retained by the victor, the Aztecs of San Diego or the Bulldogs of Fresno. As of December 2019, the Old Oil Can resides in San Diego County.


Fresno State

The Battle for the Oil Can

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Main article: Fresno State–San Diego State football rivalry

No other opponent has a more extensive history against SDSU. The Fresno State-San Diego State rivalry, also known as the Battle for the Oil Can, dates back to 1923 when the two teams competed in the SCJCC. The Aztecs winning the initial meeting 12–2 at home. Since then, the sides have met 51 more times, including every year from 1945 to 1979, when the two competed in the same conference or were independents. After not facing one another between 1979 and 1991, the schools resumed the annual series from 1992 to 1998, when both were members of the Western Athletic Conference. The two teams have met twice since then, in 2002 and 2011. With Fresno State joining the Mountain West Conference in 2012 and the addition of the divisional format, the Aztecs and the Bulldogs will compete on an annual basis once again.

One of the most memorable games between the two schools was known as "The Fog Bowl" in 1962. The fog was so thick that the Aztec radio announcer at the time Al Couppee couldn't see the plays, so he went down to the field and into the huddle to give the play-by-play. The Aztecs won the game 29–26 in a thrilling fashion.

The two schools started competing in 2011 for the Oil Can trophy. The Oil Can trophy comes from a 1930s-era oil can hailing from Fresno that was found at a construction site at San Diego State. "The oil can likely came from a time when Aztec and Bulldog fans traveled to football games between the two schools via the old, twisting, precipitous Grapevine section of Highway 99 over Tejon Pass", said Jacquelyn K. Glasener, executive director of the Fresno State Alumni Association. "Cars in those days carried extra oil and water to be sure they could make it through difficult trips", added Jim Herrick, executive director of the San Diego State Alumni Association. The game was dubbed by fans the Battle for the Oil Can. The first trophy game was played in 2011. The Aztecs were favored but however they found themselves trailing 21–0 in the first half. They battled back scoring four unanswered touchdowns to win 35–28, with Ronnie Hillman scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to win the game. The Aztecs ended the season with an 8–4 record and made it to the New Orleans Bowl and the Bulldogs ended the season 4–8. San Diego State leads the all-time series with a record of 27–22–4, including a 14–11–2 mark in San Diego, Fresno State leads the trophy series 3–2. In 2016, the series is tied. Fresno State assumed a 4–2 lead in the trophy series with their 27–3 victory over the Aztecs on October 21, 2017 at SDCCU (formerly Qualcomm) Stadium.

San Diego State leads the series 30–27–4 as of February 2023.[citation needed]

San Jose State

El Camino Real Rivalry

The rivalry between the two Cal State schools dates back to 1935. The matchup is named after the historic 600-mile Camino Real that connects the 21 Spanish missions in California, stretching from San Diego Bay in the south to San Francisco Bay in the north. The San Diego State Aztecs and San Jose State Spartans have played each other 47 times as of the 2023 season.

A common storyline in sports, is that of the San Francisco Bay Area vs. Southern California rivalry, such as the Giants and the Dodgers in the MLB, and the Sharks and Kings in the NHL. This SJSU and SDSU rivalry benefits from that sort of bragging rights perspective that both teams undoubtedly look to hold onto each year. [15]

The Spartans currently have the longest win streak in the series with 11 consecutive wins from 1938 to 1952.

As of 2023, San Diego State leads the series 24–21–2.

In 2014, there were conversations between the two programs about creating a trophy using an old mission bell or a replica of an old Spanish mission bell to be awarded to the winner of the rivalry game, but no trophy ever materialized. [16]


Although it is seen as a lopsided rivalry by the BYU fan base, with no future games scheduled as of 2022, the two schools have played each other 38 times with BYU leading the series 28-9-1; SDSU has never won consecutive meetings. BYU’s 24-21 win in Provo in 2010 came to be known as “replay-gate.” BYU defeated SDSU 23-6 in the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl, and was the first scheduled meeting since BYU left the Mountain West in 2011 and went independent in football. [17] Aztecs fans have long considered BYU their biggest — most hated — rival. It is not reciprocated, with the Cougars having a big in-state rivalry with Utah and medium-sized rivalry with Utah State. Former head coach Rocky Long said:“You know, anybody that’s over 60, we understand, but anybody under 30 has no idea how heated those rivalries were because BYU was one of the top teams in the country for years and years and years.” [18]

Hall of Fame

College Football Hall of Fame
Name Position Year Inducted
George Brown G 1947 1985
Don Coryell Coach 1961–72 1999
Fred Dryer DE 1967–68 1997
Marshall Faulk HB 1991–93 2017
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Name Position Year Inducted
Joe Gibbs Coach 1964–66 1996
John Madden Coach 1964–66 2006
Marshall Faulk HB 1991–93 2011
Don Coryell Coach 1961-1972 2023

Retired numbers

San Diego State has retired three numbers in honor of four players.

No. Player Position Tenure Ref.
8 Todd Santos QB 1984–1987 [19]
25 Haven Moses WR 1966–1967 [19]
28 Willie Buchanon CB 1970–1971 [19]
Marshall Faulk HB 1991–1993 [19]

National Award Winners

Corbett Award

Corbett Award
Year Name Position
2000 Cedric Dempsey Athletic Director
2007 Fred L. Miller Athletic Director

This honor is awarded annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). It is presented "to the collegiate administrator who has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment."

Walter Camp Man of the Year Award

Walter Camp Man of the Year
Year Name Position at SDSU Career at SDSU
2012 Herm Edwards Cornerback 1975

The Walter Camp Man of the Year is given to the "Man of the Year" in the world of college football. The criteria for the award are "success, leadership, public service, integrity, and commitment to American heritage and Walter Camp's philosophy."

Sam Baugh Trophy

Sam Baugh Trophy
Year Name Position
1973 Jesse Freitas Quarterback

This honor is given by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, awarded annually to the nation's top collegiate passer.

Jim Brown Award

Jim Brown Award
Year Name Position
1992 Marshall Faulk Halfback
2016 Donnel Pumphrey Halfback

This honor is given by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the NCAA's top running back of the year.

Ray Guy Award

Ray Guy Award
Year Name Position
2021 Matt Araiza Punter

The Ray Guy Award is presented annually to college football's most outstanding punter as presented by the Augusta Sports Council.


Players in the NFL

See also: List of San Diego State Aztecs in the NFL Draft

As of the 2022 offseason.[needs update][20][21]

Player NFL team
Aaron Brewer Arizona Cardinals
Cameron Thomas Arizona Cardinals
Darren Hall Atlanta Falcons
Zachary Thomas Chicago Bears
Calvin Munson New England Patriots
Daniel Bellinger New York Giants
Nick Bawden New York Jets
William Dunkle Pittsburgh Steelers
Damontae Kazee Pittsburgh Steelers
Alex Barrett San Francisco 49ers
Daniel Brunskill San Francisco 49ers
Keith Ismael San Francisco 49ers
Rashaad Penny Seattle Seahawks
David Wells Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of May 5, 2021.[22]

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Idaho State Washington State Stony Brook Portland State at Eastern Michigan at Missouri Oklahoma
UCLA at California at Washington State at UCLA Missouri Arizona State at Arizona State
at Oregon State Portland State California Oregon State at Oklahoma Louisiana Tech at Louisiana Tech
Ohio at Central Michigan at Northern Illinois at Toledo
2030 2031 2032 2033 2034
Central Michigan at Oklahoma Missouri at Missouri
UCLA at Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
Northern Illinois

Notable alumni

See also: San Diego State Aztecs football players

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "San Diego State Aztecs football" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (November 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

San Diego State athletics have contributed to the National Football League (NFL). NFL head coaches were members of the Aztec Football program:

Some of the more famous San Diego State students to later star in the NFL are:

See also


  1. ^ "Color Palette". San Diego State Athletics Style Guide (PDF). October 19, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  2. ^ "San Diego State Conference Championships". Archived from the original on 2010-11-25.
  3. ^ a b "San Diego State Recognized National Championships". Archived from the original on 2012-10-19.
  4. ^ "Don Coryell named head coach of St. Louis grid Cards". Bangor Daily News. Maine. Associated Press. January 19, 1973. p. 16.
  5. ^ Samantha Stevenson (1990-12-02). "COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Miami Survives Scare and Brawl". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  6. ^ "Miami survives scare by Aztecs". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire reports. December 2, 1990. p. 4G.
  7. ^[bare URL PDF]
  8. ^ "Winsipedia - San Diego State Aztecs football all-time record, wins, and statistics - Mountain West Conference".
  9. ^ "San Diego State Bowl History". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  10. ^ "FB to Play at Dignity Health Sports Park in 2021". SDSU Athletics. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  11. ^ "FB to Play at Dignity Health Sports Park in 2021". SDSU Athletics. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  12. ^ "Senator says SDSU should take over Qualcomm Stadium". The Daily Aztec. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  13. ^ "San Diego State announces multi-million dollar donation to help fund Mission Valley stadium". The Daily Aztec. 5 December 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  14. ^ "Qualcomm Snags Naming Rights to New SDSU Venue with 'Snapdragon Stadium'". December 6, 2021. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
  15. ^ "Opinions: SJSU footballs biggest rivals". 10 November 2020.
  16. ^ Durkin, Jimmy (6 November 2014). "Cleaning up some Valley Trophy questions". Spartan Central.
  17. ^ Drew, Jay (10 December 2020). "Why the San Diego State-BYU football game is a rivalry for the still-angry Aztecs". Desert News.
  18. ^ Kenney, Kirk (28 November 2019). "Aztecs fans love to loathe BYU — and for good reason (they believe)". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  19. ^ a b c d When is a number not retired? Ask SDSU’s administration at San Diego Tribune, by Mark Zeigler – Jan 24, 2020
  20. ^ "San Diego State Official Athletic Site – Football". Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  21. ^[bare URL]
  22. ^ "San Diego State Aztecs Football Future Schedules". Retrieved May 5, 2021.