Sunday, September 17, 2017

San Diego State QB Christian Chapman the Unsung Hero of the Aztecs' Stirring 20-17 Win Over #19 Stanford


San Diego State's epic 20-17 win over #19 Stanford tonight was no upset. Don't let anyone tell you it was. The opportunistic, tough-as-nails Aztecs should've been ranked higher than Stanford before tonight's kickoff. They will be now.

I've been watching Aztec football semi-religiously since I moved to San Diego 33 years ago to attend SDSU. And this was the most exciting and meaningful Aztecs game I've ever witnessed.

There were so many story lines in this game, where does one begin? The one everybody's talking about is when the stadium lights went out late in the fourth quarter just after State, trailing by four, began what would be their game-deciding drive.

When the lights went out, thousands of fans clicked on their smart phones in a new-millennium version of flicking their Bic's. It was a sight to behold, Christmas'y, almost holy. But then that isn't surprising given the fact that the game was a clash between two quarterbacks whose names are Christian and Chryst.

The blackout - which SDSU markerting guru's eerily foreshadowed when they asked Aztec fans to "black out" the stadium by wearing all black -- intensified what was already an almost immeasurably emotional, dramatic football game.

The other big story line that, really, was the elephant in the room (stadium) all night was the fact that sports fans in the city of San Diego are clamoring for something/anything to help them forget that the San Diego Chargers are gone.

Tonight's game was the perfect antidote for San Diegans who are still sick that the Bolts are now playing up in our rival city, Los Angeles.

But for diehard Aztec fans, none of that stuff mattered. The game's the thing, and this game had everything, even a near brawl between the teams as they made their way to the locker room at halftime.

The pure joy of this win for SDSU loyalists had nothing to do with that NFL team whose absence San Diegans are getting more used to by the day. This was an instant classic between two very physical, talented college football teams who each had something to prove.

The Aztecs ultimately imposed their will tonight on a good Cardinal team and let it be known that they are a force with which to be reckoned. These Aztecs fear nothing and no one. They can't be intimidated. They're undaunted. Unflappable. Hungry. Resolute. And, when it counts the most, unstoppable.

This San Diego State team will go far. Definitely a strong early candidate for one of the non-Power 5 conference slots in the college football playoff.

San Diego State is 3-0 now, and should in fact be ranked in the Top 15 after its impressive first three weeks (The Aztecs handily beat another Power 5/Pac 12 team, Arizona State, last week in Tempe).

But SDSU will be lucky to crack the Top 25 (they will, but maybe barely) because even with the proliferation of DVR's, there are still far too many clueless, myopic sportswriters in the East, South and Midwest who don't even know what an "Aztec" is.

San Diego State has the goods, folks. They could go undefeated this season. The team's deservedly best-known athlete, Rashaad Penny, is the leading rusher in the nation. And if he isn't a Heisman Trophy candidate after this game, those sportswriters I mentioned a minute ago seriously need to get a life.

But as great as Penny is, the difference in the game tonight against Stanford, as I frankly predicted he would be on this blog earlier this week, was Aztec quarterback Christian Chapman.

Chapman was this game's MVP. No question about it. He demonstrably outplayed Stanford's much more vaunted QB Chryst, who threw a game-ending pic to seal the deal for San Diego State.

Chapman showed Keller how to calmly lead a team down the field in the final minutes of a game and get the win. Trailing by four, Chapman masterfully engineered the final drive and, with 54 seconds remaining, threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Wells to take the lead for good. 

It was a very impressive grand finale' for Chapman that should erase any doubts about his talent, toughness or leadership. Chapman had Stanford's bigs in his face all night, but he remained impossibly but characteristically cool. He didn't throw a single bad pass that I can recall.

Chapman is creatively elusive in the pocket, he's got a very high football I.Q., and he's a very accurate passer. He just makes things happen on the field, positive things, and he never gets rattled. As I've been saying for a year now, Chapman is wildly underrated. But hopefully no more. Not after this star-making performance.

As San Diego State's student newspaper, The Daily Aztec, reported tonight, Chapman had this to say after the game:

“Crazy. Can’t write it any better. Lights shut off, everybody is showing their lights. The fans are going crazy. Telling our brothers, this is it, this is our drive. If we want to be something, this is what we got to do.”

7 comments:

  1. He did very well but MVP, no way!! He lost more yards running backwards than he gained all night. The MVP was PENNY!! Penny kept moving the ball forward and distracted the defense when necessary!!!

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    1. Ridiculous statement. He had Stanford defenders in his face all night. He eluded them masterfully and miraculously didn't make a single costly mistake. He was exceptional last night in the face of constant pressure. Respectfully, what game were you watching?

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  2. .....Penny will will continue to excel...as the season wears on because Chapman is a quarterback to be respected...otherwise teams can just key on Penny...Great win,,,now how do they play against lesser apponents?...stay focused!

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  3. MVP....SDSU Aztec Team!!!

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  4. Don't rule out Kelly as the MVP. #7 was everywhere last night. Sacking the QB, forcing a fumble and intercepting the ball. That is a trifecta as impressive as Penny last week.

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  5. I thought Kameron Kelly huge. Two sacks and a pick before the final drive and a TD saving tackle of Stanford's #20 that saved four points (FG vs TD). Without him final drive would have been moot.

    That said, I feel better about Chapman. Except for a couple times he held the ball too long he looks like he can to a strong play-action attack.

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