San Diego State returns 13 starters and 40 letterwinners off a 2011 team that posted its second consecutive winning season and second straight bowl appearance. SDSU has not posted three consecutive winning seasons since 1989-91 and has never advanced to a bowl game in three straight years.
The Aztec defense is led by Mountain West preseason defensive player of the year, senior cornerback Leon McFadden. McFadden is on the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best
defensive player) and the Jim Thorpe Award (DB). McFadden is looking to become the school's fourth three-time first-team all-league selection, joining Marshall Faulk, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Kirk Morrison.
SDSU has forced a turnover in 13 of its last 14 games, including three or more five times in the last 12 games.
San Diego State has allowed a total of 124 yards rushing in its last two games combined. The Aztec defense has held its opponent to 100 yards or less on the ground in three of the last six games.