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2021 San Jose State Spartans: A Program on the Rise
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2021 San Jose State Spartans: A Program on the Rise

San Jose State was undefeated at 7-0 heading into their bowl game against underdog Ball State when six starters and both coordinators were ruled out at game time. That led to chaos and a 34-13 loss ending their chance for an undefeated season. The Spartans return 18 starters from that team and managed to keep Coach Brent Brennan from going elsewhere which will keep stability throughout the program. They are primed and ready to try and defend their championship and prove 2020 wasn’t a fluke.

Offense: Nick Starkel has found a home at San Jose after failing at both Arkansas and Texas A&M. He threw for 453 yards and three touchdowns in the MW title game against Boise State. The offensive line returns intact from 2020 and have 91 career starts between them. They are led by All-MW tackle Jack Snyder. Tyler Nevens has led SJSU the last three seasons in rushing and he returns with Kairee Robinson to split duties at running back. TE, Derrick Deese Jr. was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award for best tight ends in the nation and he is back. The weakness of the offense is replacing two of the two most productive receivers in Spartans’ history with Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker both gone.

Defense: Five players who earned all-conference honors, are back led by defensive lineman Cade Hall, who had 10 sacks and was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All American in some polls. Not only that but his partner, Viliami Fehoko, who had 10 sacks, joins him for another year. Four linebackers, led by Kyle Harmon with 78 tackles are experienced and talented. And all 4 players in the secondary are returning starters. This should be a very good defense.

Non-Conference Schedule:

8/28 Southern Utah

9/4 at USC

9/25 at Western Michigan

10/2 New Mexico State

This schedule is reasonable and the Spartans should run through it with a 3-1 record. The game at USC is not as impossible as one might think as SJSU will have a game under their belt and it will be the opener for the Trojans. But, USC didn’t schedule that game to lose, so expecting a win there is borderline delusional.

Conference Schedule:

9/18 at Hawaii

10/9 at Colorado State

10/16 San Diego State

10/23 at UNLV

10/30 Wyoming

11/6 at Nevada

11/13 Utah State

11/27 Fresno State

The conference schedule is pretty favorable overall for the Spartans. They have must-win home games against San Diego State and Utah State. The other games with Wyoming and Fresno State will be harder but they really need to win those. Road games at Hawaii and Colorado State won’t be easy, but they should win there. The UNLV game is a must win. That leaves the game at Nevada that could very likely decide who represents the West Division for the MW title game.

Summary: San Jose State has a lot of reasons to be the favorite in the Mountain West. They have quality players in a lot of areas. The conference schedule is manageable and is missing Boise State. So why am I picking them second behind Nevada in the West? I’m just not sure they can handle the pressure in a normal season of being a favorite. They haven’t had back-to-back winning seasons since ’92 and ’93 so there is very little tradition draw from. Plus, the biggest game of the year is at Nevada and I think that might be the difference.

Predicted Finish: 2nd Place in the MW West Division

Overall Record: 9-3

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