Buffalo (0-1) at Nevada (1-1)
Saturday, September 17th, 6:00pm
Line (Atlantis): Nevada -11; O/U 52.0
All-Time: Nevada leads the series 2-0
Nevada comes into an important Week 3 match-up exactly where every sane fan thought they would be, record-wise. After a rather lackluster opener against Cal Poly, I did think they played better against Notre Dame and closer than the score showed.
Notre Dame Thoughts
I haven't felt this bad about the Pack's QB position since 2004, I know Tyler Stewart is better than the way he played on Saturday but I don't feel like he's a playmaker. He had two really bad INT's, one of which was called back, and just missed a lot of simple throws. Backup Ty Gangi showed a lot of promise in a limited amount of snaps and was responsible for Nevada's two biggest chunk plays of the game. I hope OC Tim Cramsey and Brian Polian give him a chance to not just run the read-option against Buffalo but also throw it. I don't understand why the starting safety is taking snaps behind center, but also didn't see enough of it to have much of an opinion one way or the other.
Scott Boone's defense played a pretty good game though the other two phases of the team put them in awful spots a lot of the day, especially in the game changing 2nd Quarter. I really like the way the Linebackers and Safeties have played to start the season, especially Alex Bertrando.
The Pack's special teams unit took this game from a 3-0 affair with 12:57 in the 2nd to 18-0 with 9:25 left. In that time, you had two kickoff's taken out of the end zone that should not have been by Ahki Muhammad (one that resulted in a safety), an Irish 24-yard punt return, an awful Stewart pick and when that was finished the game was essentially over. Specialists Brent Zuzo and Alex Boy do what they do and do it well, but Nevada's kick return game and return defense left a lot to be desired. I'd imagine we see Elijah Mitchell once again returning kicks on Saturday.
On to the Bulls
These two teams played a close yet ugly contest in Buffalo last season, a game that featured Dameon Baber's coming out party, James Butler and Don Jackson rushing for 290 yards, the Bulls throwing for 338 yards and a combined 185 yards in penalties. These two teams are very different from last season, but Buffalo more so. The Bulls come into the game at 0-1 with a loss to FCS Albany in Week 1, a game in which they outgained the Great Danes by 165 yards but turned the ball over four times.
Gone is QB Joe Licata who lit Nevada's secondary up a year ago and in is a QB competition. The Bulls plan to play both of their QB's this week, according to their HC Lance Leipold. The first of which is Iowa State grad transfer Gran Rohach who started against Albany and was 3/9 for 52 yards, 2 INT. Their other option is redshirt freshman Tyree Jackson, a true dual-threat QB who went 14/25 for 125 yards, 1 INT, 10 carries for 60 yards and a lost fumble on the goal line. Rohach put Buffalo in a big hole early and Jackson got them out of it, eventually giving them the lead at 16-14 before ultimately losing.
If you're into QB changes, this is the game for you! Both head coaches said in their pressers this week that both of their QB's would play plus we should see Asauni Rufus take some snaps for the Pack as well, making it five different players taking snaps on Saturday. I think the Bulls are probably better than most think, especially after the result of their first game, but it'll be interesting to see which QB shines for them and plays the longest, I'd guess Jackson is that guy and I'm sure Polian and his staff are preparing for that as well. Leipold is a guy that I've been keeping my eye on since he came to the FBS level, as he won a lot of trophies at D3 Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Around the MWC
Mountain West division favorites, Boise State (Washington State) and San Diego State (Cal) both had good home wins over Pac-12 foes last week...New Mexico blew a 9-point 4th Quarter lead to Rio Grande rival New Mexico State...Air Force set a new FBS record for Time of Possession, holding the ball for 45:14 in a blow out win of Georgia State...
Fremont's Bet (0-1): After a rough under last week, I think Nevada -11 will cash our ticket this week. The Pack is a lot more stable than Buffalo is and the Bulls are playing three time zones away and at elevation, I think both will play a factor on Saturday.