SAN JOSE -- San Jose State was in position to make a big splash in its first season in the Mountain West Conference.
But after a demoralizing loss to San Diego State, the Spartans suddenly are scrambling to salvage a winning record.
"We'll see how the team responds to this," coach Ron Caragher said after the Spartans squandered an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 34-30 loss Saturday night. "It's definitely frustrating. I thought that was a game we could've won, but that's why you've got to finish. It's just disappointing."
The Spartans (5-4, 4-2) were hoping their Nov. 29 home game against Fresno State would decide the West Division title, but SJSU now needs help to make that happen. Fresno State (9-0, 6-0) can clinch the division crown when it plays lowly New Mexico on Nov. 23.
"It's nothing we can control now," quarterback David Fales said of the team's conference title hopes. "We've got to focus on what we can control, and that's Nevada (Saturday.)"
The Spartans need one win to become bowl eligible and two wins to likely guarantee a bowl berth. They have three games remaining, but the schedule is challenging.
It starts on the road against Nevada (3-7, 2-5), which the Spartans have beaten just once in the past 10 meetings. Then it's Navy (5-4) and Fresno State, both at home.
Had they not blown a 23-12 lead in the final 11 minutes Saturday night, the Spartans already would be bowl eligible, and these three games would be opportunities to polish their résumé.
A blocked field-goal attempt set up an easy touchdown that cut the SJSU lead to 23-20, and, although the Spartans answered to make it 30-20, they then allowed two scoring drives that each took fewer than three minutes. The Spartans defense got no help from their offense, which gained just 6 yards on seven plays over its final two possessions.
"I feel like we were in a good position, and then it just slipped out of our hands," linebacker Keith Smith said. "We've just got to play four quarters."
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SJSU (5-4, 4-2 Mountain West)
at Nevada (3-7, 2-5), 7:30 p.m. ESPNU