Nevada (2-1) at Purdue (1-1)
Saturday, September 24th, 9:00am
Line (Atlantis): Purdue -5.5; O/U: 59.5
All-Time: Inaugural Meeting
TV/Online/Radio: ESPNews/WatchESPN/ESPN 94.5, SiriusXM 81
Fresh off the most dominant win of the Brian Polian era, a rejuvenated Pack squad begins a new home-and-home series with a rest Boilermaker team.
Led by the James Butler and Jaxson Kincaide duo, the Pack racked up the most rushing yards (352) during Polian's tenure. QB Tyler Stewart rebounded nicely from Notre Dame and was very efficient, which is exactly what Nevada needs from him especially when the ground game is working well. LB Alex Bertrando has been an absolute menace on the defense, leading that side of the ball in tackles for a third straight game to amass 28 on the young season. This game was just so much fun as the Pack haven't blown many teams out since Polian took the helm and this was the best the team has looked since New Mexico last October.
The team must've had a great week of practice as they came out on fire on both sides of the ball, leading to a 31-0 start. It's pretty clear that this is Butler's offense but Kincaide is proving to be a great change-of-pace back, especially with the type of cuts he can make. After the first two outings, I've been a bit down on the team but I'm refreshed after Buffalo.
On to Purdue
The Boilermakers come into this game as a 5.5-point favorite, the first game they've been a favorite over another FBS team in over two years. They're coming off of a bye week, so they're well rested but they've had an up-and-down start. They picked off Eastern Kentucky early in the ball game, pouncing to a 21-0 lead that would never be threatened in a 45-24 win. Purdue got outplayed by a good Cincinnati team in Week 2 and had an odd-timed bye week in Week 3.
Nevada's rush defense will be tested in this game. Even if you throw out the triple-option Cal Poly team, the Pack are still giving up 239.5 yards per contest. Purdue QB David Blough has 3 TD's to 6 INT's and has completed just 57% of his passes. I'm sure that the Boilermakers are game-planning to run the ball with Markell Jones and having that open up the passing game.
On the opposite side of the ball, I think Nevada will try to control the tempo with Butler/Kincaide/Akeel Lynch and have Stewart throw it his usual 20-25 times a game, though I'm positive that Purdue is going to try to stack the box and make Stewart beat them with his arm. Passing game options Jarred Gipson, Wyatt Demps, Hasaan Henderson, Victor Gonzalez and Ahki Muhammad should play a big factor in this game, if Nevada is going to win. I simply don't think Nevada will be able to run it like they did against Buffalo, at least not at a 5.5-yard per carry clip.
As much as these teams will want to run it, whichever program can make plays in the passing game should win. I anticipate this being a close Kegs n' Eggs (9am game) type of affair. Lastly, I'm interested to see how many sacks take place as both teams combined have one.
Around the MWC
San Diego State is ranked for the first time since 1995, coming in at #22 on the AP Poll...Boise State heads to Corvallis a rested team, taking on their second Pac-12 opponent in a row in Oregon State...Air Force and Utah State collide in Logan, in what should be a good #MWLateNight affair...Along with the Pack, Colorado State (at Minnesota) and San Jose State (at Iowa State) will have a chance to get some Power 5 wins...
Fremont's Bet (1-1): Since Nevada will be leaving here on Thursday, I think they'll be able to get acclimated to the change in body clock, especially since they already practice at that time of the day. This will not be a road environment like Notre Dame or Texas A&M, but this will be the only game Nevada plays on natural grass this season. Let's roll with the Under of 59.5, I think we'll see both teams control the ball through the running game and I can't see either team getting to 35 points.