The San Jose State Spartans are on a roll, relatively speaking. The Spartans have won back-to-back games and would like to spoil BYU’s homecoming to make their run three in a row.
BYU hosts San Jose State Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first time since 1998. San Jose State’s last win in Provo was in 1961, when the Spartans came out on top 14-13. The Spartans lead the overall series between the two teams, 9-5.
“We’re excited about going to play BYU,” San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre said in a recent press conference. “It will be a very, very good test for us.”
“We’ve changed and we are going to try to display that each week,” senior running back Brandon Rutley said.
San Jose State is coming off wins over New Mexico State and Colorado State — their first two-game winning streak since 2008. If the Spartans win on Saturday night, it will be the first time they have won back-to-back non-conference road games since 1982.
“For our program the word we could use is huge,” MacIntyre said of the potential to win three games in a row. “Eighty percent of our football team has never won a road game. Eighty percent of the football team has never won back-to-back wins. The kids are excited about playing and they definitely believe they can beat anybody and there’s no doubt we can. When you have that attitude then those type of things start falling your way.”
The Spartans’ offense is averaging almost 150 rushing yards per game, which could prove problematic to the Cougars.
“They have a nice running back [Rutley]who I’m very impressed with,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “They are also throwing and catching the ball pretty well. … They’re skilled and capable. They’re well coached.”
Rutlley leads the team this season with six touchdowns. But he is nursing an ankle injury from the Colorado State victory last week and is a game-time decision for Saturday. Rutley is averaging 103 yards per game on the ground.
MacIntyre said he is confident his offense will be able to compete against the successful BYU defense.
“We have enough versatility on our offense to handle what the defense will show us,” MacIntyre said.”We’ll go in with a plan to attack and then when we get to the game there’s always changes being made and the flexibility of our offense always gives us to be able to keep moving the football.”
San Jose State sophomore linebacker Keith Smith was named the WAC Player of the Week for his performance in the Spartans’ win at Colorado State. Smith had a team-high 10 tackles and forced a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown.
The Spartans have a few Orem natives on their roster. Two brothers, David Tuitupou and Peter Tuitupou, both played football at Mountain View High. David, one of San Jose State’s starting defensive ends, was on BYU’s roster in 2008 and 2009. However, he was a redshirt in 2008 and didn’t play in any games in 2009. Then, he played for Snow College in 2010.
Peter, a tight end, also played for Snow College before his mission. He then committed to Washington State but after his mission made the decision to play with his brother at San Jose State.
“When Peter came off his mission … we liked him and he liked us,” MacIntyre said. “The good thing about them [Tuitupou brothers] is they’re both about 6-5 and 250-260 pounds. Their mom is a professor at BYU so this game will be a big deal for their whole family.”