Big game for the Spartans this week, and I don't mean their home date against BYU.
OK, OK. That's big. But it's not the only big game.
Their postseason options would brighten considerably if Hawaii finds a way to beat Air Force.
The Spartans are 7-2 in games that count toward bowl qualification, which means the worst they can do is 7-4 ... and 7-4 should be good enough to get them into a bowl, somewhere, somehow.
One option -- their best option, in my estimation -- would be to fill one of the Mountain West's five slots (Las Vegas, Poinsettia, Armed Forces, New Mexico and ... ding-ding-ding ... Hawaii.)
But in order for that to happen, the MWC needs to be short on teams.
In order for that to happen, Air Force needs to finish with a losing record.
And in order for that to happen, the Falcons need to lose to Hawaii.
It's unlikely, but you never know ...
The only reason not to give SJSU an "A+" is the competition: If the Spartans receive the highest grade possible for beating NMSU, what's left if they beat BYU or LaTech?
New Mexico State, on the other hand, can reasonably be considered one of the worst five or 10.
So the Spartans should have won by multiple touchdowns.
The fact that they did -- and have, for the most part, spent four weeks pummeling teams they're supposed to pummel -- speaks volumes about the leadership and focus (and talent)
It's easy to get complacent when you win by multiple touchdowns every week, but SJSU hasn't fallen into the trap.
Next up: vs. BYU
The matchup: The Cougars are fourth in the nation in fewest yards allowed (264.5 per game) and possess the toughest defense SJSU has faced since the season opener at Stanford.
What's more, BYU's coming off what was, for all intents and purposes, a bye:
It thrashed Idaho 52-13 and was able to give its starters extra rest.
Remember the Utah State game? (Hint: 13 sacks.)
This will be a good test of the offensive line's progress -- not to mention Fales' feel for the pocket and understanding of when to throw the ball away.
The running game is also central to keeping the Spartans out of long-yardage situations.
They converted just 2 of 11 third-down opportunities at New Mexico State. BYU has the No. 2 third-down defense in the country, allowing opponents to convert just 28.2 percent of the time.
If Fales has time to throw, that team could be the Spartans.