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By Liz Alper


Photo:  Rocky Long, SDSU News Center


November 17, 2015 (San Diego) - The now bowl-eligible San Diego State Aztecs face UNLV on Saturday, and Coach Rocky Long says that the Aztecs aren't dwelling on the achievement.



"Getting bowl-eligible is a pretty special deal for our team and our program," Long said at his weekly press conference today. "but now we got to look forward to the next game because we have to win another game in order to get in the conference championship game and the number one goal in the program is to win the conference championship."


The Aztecs are coming off a 38-3 win over Wyoming on Homecoming weekend last Saturday.


Despite being focused on getting to the conference championship, Coach Long says that a bowl game is a sign of a good football team.


"I think it's a sign of success," he said. "whenever you get picked to go to a bowl game, it's a sign of success.  And being that this is gonna be San Diego State's sixth bowl game, it means that the program is pretty solid and very competitive."


The Aztecs are preparing to face UNLV on Saturday.  Coach Long knows that they will be a tough team to beat.


 "UNLV's been playing pretty well, especially on offense.  They've been moving the ball well, they've been scoring a lot of points.  They have three outstanding receivers.  They are talented enough to beat us for sure, and it's gonna be the team that plays the best that's gonna win."


One of the best aspects of the Aztecs defense is their ability to force turnovers, Long says.


 "We didn't have the ability or we weren't lucky enough last year to cause that number of turnovers.  This year, we're getting a lot of turnovers on defense.  I don't know exactly what our turnover ratio is, but it might be the best one in our conference and it's one of the better ones in the country."


On quarterback Maxwell Smith:


"I mean, I think he gets better every week. He's more accurate on the intermediate throws.  He's maintaining drives by making plays himself.  I think he just carries himself with a lot more confidence.  He just looks more confident.  When you have a confident quarterback out there, the whole team's better."


Quarterback Maxwell Smith and defensive end Jon Sanchez say it would be "an amazing feeling" to get to a conference championship game.



"It would mean a lot, not only to this team, but it would mean a tremendous amount to the school," Smith says. "obviously, it's something that the basketball team has become accustomed to, and hopefully that can be the case for the football team for years to come."


Coach Long is confident that the Aztecs will be in the conference championship game.  When asked if he wants to play Boise State in the big game, he said,


 "I'd like to face anybody that's there as long as we're one of them."


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