San Diego State University

Game On! After a Long Wait, San Diego State Football Kicks Off Saturday

After having the 2020 season delayed due to COVID-19, the San Diego State football team plays its first game of the season Saturday against UNLV

NBC 7 News

For the first time in more than 10 months, it's game week for the San Diego State University football team.

The Aztecs, who last played a game on Dec. 21, 2019, will open the 2020 season on Saturday against the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).

Aztecs head coach, Brady Hoke, is more than ready.

"We've all looked forward to getting to this point," he said. "This week, we are in game week. We are excited, and our guys are excited."

San Diego State was originally scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 5 against Sacramento State, but the COVID-19 pandemic completely wiped away the Aztecs' original schedule and altered the programs' whole approach to practice, conditioning, meetings and games.

After roughly eight months of pigskin pandemic practice protocols, that have been difficult and unsettling, Hoke expects the football fields' two white lines to bring back some normalcy come game time.

"When we cross the white lines, there's not a mask, it's football! Once we get across the white line that game hasn't changed, and we are preparing like Aztecs to go play a football game," Hoke said.

It’s a football game that one Aztec player thought might never happen.

"It's a pleasure to play because a couple of months ago, I thought I would never play here again, so it's definitely an honor and I am excited to get it started."

For seniors like SDSU safety TariqThompson, Saturday's game and the season ahead are special and have some real meaning behind them.

"Almost losing the season and my senior year was heartbreaking because I grew up in San Diego, grew up watching San Diego State football, my Dad is an alumni," he explained. "It would've been sad not to play my last year here at SDSU. I've developed bonds the last 4 years with my brothers that will last a lifetime."

Fellow Aztec senior Kyle Spalding echoes his teammate's feelings, "I know that I am excited to play my senior year. It all comes down to this; we've overcome a lot and I am excited to get it started and get it rolling."

San Diego State is playing against UNLV Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. The season is different, the stadium location is different, but one thing hasn't changed -- San Diego State is still expected to win a lot of games.

The Aztecs are 14.5 points favorites over the Rebels.

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