Boise State Faces Top Rushing Team In Nation

Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick believes there isn't a team out there that can beat the Wolf Pack. The team has set two NCAA records this season and is on a roll coming into the nationally-televised game tomorrow night with Boise State.

Nevada players were asked after the Fresno State game how many teams in the country were better than the Wolf Pack.  

"In my opinion," said quarterback Colin Kaepernick, "I'd say none."  "I'd like to play everyone in the country and find out," said running back Luke Lippincott.

Nevada features a three-headed monster in their backfield--Kaepernick and running backs Lippincott and Vai Taua.  They are nothing short of amazing.

Taua has carried the ball 148 times for 1,185 yards and nine touchdowns.  Kaepernick has 132 rushing attempts for 1,129 yards and 16 TD's.   Lippincott has 133 carries for 1,028 yards and nine scores.  Kaepernick, Taua and Lippincott's yards-per-carry averages of 8.55, 8.01 and 7.73, respectively, are 1-2-3 in the nation.  Only Fresno State 's Ryan Matthews (7.0 per rush) is close to the Pack trio.

A quick glance at the numbers above reveal that this Nevada rushing game is something special.  They are the first team in major college history to have three 1,000-yard rushers in the same year.  They tied an NCAA record earlier this year when four Pack backs ran for over 100 yards.  Against San Jose State , Taua bulled his way for 144 yards, Kaepernick had 115, Lampford Mark 114 and Lippincott 112. Other teams to get four rushers 100 yards were Army in 1984, Texas in 1969, and Arizona State in 1951.

Nevada is on pace to break a 64-year-old record for the highest yards per carry in a season.  Army averaged 7.6 yards a carry in 1945.  Nevada has thus far averaged 7.8. No other team in the country is above 6 this year. Nevada has rushed for 4,105 yards and 47 touchdowns.

The Wolf Pack rushed for 461 yards against Fresno State .  They rang up 574 against New Mexico State last weekend.  The Pack totaled 517 yards in the game against San Jose State .  They had 559 rushing yards against UNLV of the Mountain West Conference, 402 against Utah State , 492 vs. Hawai'i , 484 against Idaho and 345 against Louisiana Tech.  LSU couldn't even come close to that rushing success against Louisiana Tech--the LSU power managed just 141 yards on the ground against Tech a few weeks ago.  Nevada rushed for 218 yards against Missouri in a 31-21 defeat.

Nevada does more than rush the ball well. Their line doesn't allow tackles for loss; in fact they lead the country by allowing just 36 in 11 games so far.   

As a team, Nevada averages 41.27 points a game and are coming up on the nation-leading Broncos (44.36).  

When a team averages nearly eight yards a carry, that's going to give the guys who work the chains on the sideline a lot of exercise.  Nevada is fourth in the country with 273 first downs in their 11 games.  It is also going to give your team confidence in short-yardage situations and that bears out in the fact that Nevada is second in third-down conversion percentage (53.08%).  Coach Chris Ault's team has also converted nine of 13 fourth-down attempts.   

There is one weakness to Nevada's running game—They are #111 out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in fumbles—the Wolf Pack have lost 14 fumbles so far.  

It would also seem that they do their best when a ball carrier breaks into the open and sprints for long touchdowns that pad that per carry average.  When Nevada doesn't get a breakaway touchdown and is forced to put together a long drive, they are "average".  They rank #47 in red zone offense with 35 scores in 44 red zone drives and 10 of those have been field goals.  

Another statistic that bears that out is time of possession.  Any team that rushes for over 4,000 yards would be expected to be completely dominant in time of possession and should lead the country in that category.  Nevada is 26th—they have held onto the ball for exactly 44 seconds per game longer than Boise State .   

The preceding two statistics put the Nevada offense into perspective.  They are dangerous no doubt.  They have a great line that opens up huge holes and a set of backs that know how to take advantage.  They burst into the hole and break tackles for long gains.  But if a defense can slow them down, make sure tackles and force them to put together long drives, they have their best chance.  

Nevada is once again good at stopping the run.  Last year, the Broncos could not run consistently against them.  Nevada is 24th in rushing defense, allowing just over 110 yards per game.   

Dontay Moch is fifth in the country in tackles for loss with 19.5, light years ahead of Boise State 's highest-ranked player, Ryan Winterswyk, who has 13.5.  

The Wolf Pack weakness on defense once again is the pass.  They are next to last in the country (#119), allowing over 286 passing yards per game.  Only UAB (318.91) is behind them.  They have allowed 3,149 passing yards, a 60.67% completion percentage and 14.58 yards per completion.  The fault is certainly not the line's.  Not only do are they outstanding against the run, but Nevada is 27th with 28 sacks this season.  Boise State is 66th with 20.   

So the team coming to the Blue the day after Thanksgiving is talented and dangerous.  They have reeled off eight wins in a row and risen to the top of the Western Athletic Conference.  It is easy to see why Kaepernick and Lippincott are so confident and believe they can beat anyone in the country.

It's up to Boise State to stop them.



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