SAN DIEGO — Rashaad Penny didn’t take it personally that he was snubbed by the Doak Walker Award selection committee.
He just went out and ran 22 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns in his final regular-season game to crack the 2,000-yard mark and lead San Diego State to a 35-10 victory against New Mexico on Friday.
Penny, the NCAA’s leading rusher, reached the milestone when he broke a 51-yard scoring run up the middle early in the third quarter for a 21-0 lead. The senior also scored on a 20-yard run just before halftime. It was his fourth straight 200-yard game and fifth of the season. He has 2,027 yards.
On Monday, Penny was left off the list of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top running back. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton called that “a joke and a disgrace,” and coach Rocky Long said Penny would probably be equally snubbed in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
“Honestly I don’t even look at those awards like that because I’m not big on them. I’m in the Group of Five,” Penny said of the five conferences outside of the so-called Power Five. I say that every time because it’s true. They’re going to overlook me. They’re going to overlook anybody in this Group of Five. It’s just something that you have to deal with. It’s motivation basically for a lot of Group of Five players to go out there and prove to everybody that you can play, because that’s how I feel like it is. They feel like you just can’t play on a higher level.”
His teammates feel differently.
“It makes me mad for him, because I know he won’t get mad about it, but I’ll get mad for him about it,” fullback Nick Bawden said. “He deserves that award. It’s absurd that he’s not even in the conversation. He deserves that award, or the Heisman … He can do it all. It’s really incredible to watch him every day. It’s really an honor to be with him.”
Why isn’t Penny mad?
“I’ve got these guys,” Penny said. “I’ve got this coaching staff. They believe in me. They all know that I’m probably the No. 1 back in the country. And they know I’m a Heisman winner. …”
“Yeah we do,” Bawden interjected.
“When I’ve got these guys around me that lift me up like that, there’s no reason to even think about it,” Penny said. “When I saw the list, I just was like, ‘That’s just another motivational step.’ “
Said Long: “He’s going to have a day like that because the rest of the team was upset. Not because he was upset, because the rest of the team was upset. They went out there to make a statement and make sure he had a good day. And that’s because he’s a good guy. He’s a good guy and he’s a team guy.”
San Diego State (10-2, 6-2 Mountain West) became the first FBS team to have consecutive 2,000-yard seasons by different backs. D.J. Pumphrey set the school record with 2,133 yards last year, which helped him become the NCAA’s all-time rushing leader with 6,405.
Penny needs 107 yards in SDSU’s bowl game to break Pumphrey’s single-season record.
Penny was coming off a monster game in which he amassed 429 all-purpose yards to break Marshall Faulk’s school record, and scored four touchdowns in a 42-23 victory against Nevada. Penny rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns, and had 201 yards and two touchdowns on three returns. He also caught one pass for 6 yards.
Christian Chapman threw touchdown passes of 9 yards to Kahale Warring and 47 yards to Fred Trevillion. Penny’s backup, Juwan Washington, scored on a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter.
New Mexico (3-9, 1-7) closed the season with seven straight losses.
“It was kind of what the season was, tease a little bit with maybe a chance to do some things,” coach Bob Davie said. “It’s been an up and down, rollercoaster that never had any consistency and never felt right.”
New Mexico’s first score, a 46-yard field goal by Jason Sanders, was set up when San Diego State fumbled a punt. Later in the quarter, Jay Griffin IV later had a nice 62-yard catch-and-run after hauling in a pass from Tevaka Tuioti.
SDSU freshman Tariq Thompson had two interceptions.
New Mexico: The Lobos lost their sixth straight game to SDSU. Davie’s record in six seasons dropped to 30-45.
San Diego State: The Aztecs honored 19 seniors who have contributed to the most successful run in school history. In the last four-plus seasons (some of those players arrived in 2013), the Aztecs have won two Mountain West championships, won or shared three division titles, played in four bowl games, winning three, and posted a 47-17 record.
New Mexico’s season is over.
San Diego State awaits its eighth straight bowl game.