Don’t overlook these guys.

They may be a division I-AA school, but they can sure throw the ball.

Don’t get caught thinking about Ohio State just yet.

You can’t say that the San Diego State football team wasn’t warned.

Local sports radio hosts, sports columnists, television analysts and even the Aztecs’ head coach himself urged the home team not to underestimate the Eastern Illinois Panthers in Week 1. The Aztecs lost 40-19 Saturday.

Junior quarterback Adam Dingwell completed less than half of his passes, threw four interceptions and didn’t throw for a single touchdown. Outside of Colin Lockett, the senior wide receiver who caught eight passes for 98 yards and had a 48-yard touchdown run, the entire Aztecs offense seemed bereft of talent or a game plan for attacking the Panthers defense.

The SDSU defense didn’t do much better: It gave up 172 rushing yards on 34 carries while allowing senior Panthers QB Jimmy Garoppolo to throw for 361 yards and three touchdowns. The Aztecs gave up four sacks on offense and failed the sack the opposing QB a single time.

Rocky Long’s team was hoping to take advantage of the big-time programs on its schedule this year. But already, the Aztecs are 0-1, and it’s not because of any top 25 program. SDSU lost to a team that isn’t even supposed to be on their level, a team that certainly has much less to work with in terms of alumni, scholarships and recruiting support. If this was supposed to be the “warm up” game, it only worked in preparing the fans for what will likely be a long and arduous football year.

On Saturday, SDSU travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s a game Aztecs fans were looking forward to as a test, a gauge of where the team is in comparison to one the nation’s best football programs, and a chance for a major upset. Long has already said Dingwell will remain his starting quarterback, so now the only question is: How long he will he last against the Buckeyes before he gets pulled?

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John Gennaro

I'm John Gennaro, contributor to Active Voice and managing editor of Bolts from the Blue. You can tweet me @john_gennaro...

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