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Jay Paris: Streaking SDSU faces Huskies team with some bite

Marshall Faulk’s career rushing record is kaput and ditto the notion that San Diego State can’t play with the big boys.

The Aztecs (2-0) had a crucial win last week as Donnel Pumphrey sped past Faulk and SDSU outlasted California.

“We can’t think about that anymore,’’ coach Rocky Long said. “We can’t talk about that anymore.’’

Mum’s the word then and that’s coach’s order. But that win over a Power 5 conference team only made this Saturday’s game grow in significance. It’s off to Northern Illinois, where the Huskies don’t give a hoot about the Aztecs’ swagger.

“We are going to get their best game,’’ Long promised.

But a peek at Northern Illinois (0-2) comes with a bagel. It has fallen short in its first two games, but don’t dare bring it up around Long.

“They struggle when they go on the road, but they are really good at home,’’ Long stressed.

More coachspeak? Not exactly.

The Huskies are 35-2 over the last five years when in the cozy confines of DeKalb, Ill. So even with Northern Illinois minus its first-string quarterback, it isn’t reaching for a towel to throw in.

“There’s a lot of season ahead of us so we’re not in any type of a situation where anybody is crying for us or we’re crying for ourselves,” said Huskies coach Rod Carey.

The only Carey that rings a bell that close to Chicago is Harry Caray. While known for singing during the seventh-inning stretch, it’s no stretch to say SDSU and NI are carbon copies.

And that’s not because they share the red-and-black color scheme. The Huskies, like the Aztecs, leave the high-falutin’ spread offense to other teams.

These two squads would rather punch a defender in the mouth than sprint past him.

“We’ve been practicing for three weeks against spread teams and scout teams and now, all of a sudden, we come against a team that wants to run the ball,’’ Long said. “I can say that’s an issue.’’

But the Huskies are challenged as well. It’s doubtful they’ve seen the likes of Pumphrey, with the wiggle and acceleration that he brings to every rush.

“They have a dynamic player and they get him the ball, which is really a credit to them,’’ Carey said.

The Aztecs will take all the love they can get. Despite winning 12 straight games, and that includes the recent thriller over Cal, they can’t crack the Top 25. But prevail over Northern Illinois, a respected program that’s been to eight straight bowl games, and it might change the voters’ minds.

But a stumble would erase a vibe that has beat for a full year.

“We better have the maturity about us to go about our business and get ready to play like we’ve played the first two games,’’ Long said.

Those outings have provided two victories and a glimpse of Christian Chapman’s skills. The former Carlsbad High quarterback, who has thrown for three touchdowns and 412 yards, caught the eye of Carey. He didn’t scream “Holy Cow” but Carey was impressed.

“Their quarterback is really an outstanding player and he knows where to go with the ball and when to go with it,’’ Carey said. “He kind of makes the whole thing go, too.”

The Aztecs hit the door bound for the Land of Lincoln. Honestly, Saturday is the most difficult game remaining on SDSU’s schedule.

Win this weekend and an undefeated season is more than idle chatter.

Lose this weekend and that statement win over Cal is deflated faster than a Tom Brady football.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Read his book “Game of My Life San Diego Chargers.”