Nevada (3-3) at San Jose State (1-5)
Saturday, October 15th, 7:30pm
Line (Atlantis): SJSU -2; O/U: 55.0
All-Time: Nevada leads 19-8-2
TV/Online/Radio: CBS Sports Network/None/ESPN 94.5
Game Seven on the schedule features two of the nine worst running defense's in the nation.
Fresno State Thoughts
It's hard to have many good things to say about this game. It was a contest where you're not really happy the Pack won, you're relieved they didn't lose and frustrated.
The rush defense, which we talk about every week, has been revolting this season and Saturday wasn't an exception. After five games the Bulldogs had rushed for just 523 yards, naturally they gained 255 on the ground. Fresno State QB Chason Virgil completed enough arm punts to keep the pass defense honest and nearly led them to a win before four straight incompletions ended the Dawgs chances. Despite 28 pass attempts, Nevada was only able to get one sack which has been an all too familiar occurrence.
A common complaint has been that the Pack offense can fall asleep for long stretches of the game and we got some of that too as they held the ball for just 1:46 from the 15-minute mark in the 3rd quarter to the 13:37 mark in the 4th. That stretch saw Nevada's 10-point lead evaporate to just 5 and the momentum change from the West to the East sideline.
I'm not going to sugar coat it, this team is just frustrating to watch. While there's supposedly a new Offensive Coordinator calling the ball plays, on key drives the offense looks eerily similar to the offense last year. Which makes me think that Brian Polian is either calling plays down the stretch or vetoing Tim Cramsey's play calls. I have no way to confirm or deny this, it's just a hunch.
I think the best thing I can say about Saturday afternoon is the Mackay crowd was much better than I had anticipated. It was a perfect Saturday in Reno but after the Hawaii debacle I was expecting 15-16,000 and there were 22,000+ tickets distributed. Well done, Battle Born Nation!
On to San Jose State
Nevada now faces their third straight team that has yet to beat an FBS team. The Pack has beaten the Spartans seven straight times, though there has been a lot of close games in that streak and Nevada has struggled the last two trips to Silicon Valley.
I think these teams are more evenly matched than their records indicate. According to College Football demigod Bill Connelly's S&P rankings:
- Nevada (113th Overall): Offense: 90th, Defense: 117th, Special Teams: 109th.
- San Jose State (121st Overall): Offense: 80th, Defense: 124th, Special Teams: 108th.
On the ground, they're led by Deontae Cooper (76/327) and Zamore Zigler (50/311) with Malik Roberson (30/190) sprinkled in. Nevada has given up 18 runs of 20+ yards this season (tied for last in the nation) and all three of those backs have big play capability.
When they're not running, QB Kenny Potter is more than capable of beating Nevada with his arm. He's 72/125 on the season for 1,006 yards, 9 TD's and 6 INT's. Potter played a marvelous game at Mackay last season, completing 15/23 passes for 186 yards and 3 TD's and 19 rushes for 116 yards. He did have a bad outing against Hawaii last week, but the Pack have a way of bringing out the best in opposing QB's.
Potter and Stewart will have to make plays in the passing game for their teams to win, but expect a lot of rushing in this game once again. One year ago at Mackay, both squads combined for 94 carries and 482 yards and that is the type of game we'll see on Saturday night. In the rushing attack, Nevada's defense gives up 269.67 yards per game while the Spartans average 247.50. We very well may witness yards gained rushing akin to the Louisiana Purchase on Saturday night.
Around the MWC
Undefeated Boise State climbed up to #15 in both the AP and Coaches' Poll. They're the only team in the nation to not have faced a deficit this season...Upstart Wyoming handed Air Force their first loss of the season last week and have a bye week before their trip to Reno...Outside of Nevada/SJSU, I think the MWC's most compelling game is UNLV heading to the islands to face a surging Rainbow Warriors squad...
Fremont's Bet (3-2): I failed us last week and ended our run of cashing tickets. Quite simply, I'm rolling with Nevada +2 this week. A wise man once told me to not bet against long winning streaks and with Nevada riding a 7-game streak against SJSU, I'm not about to start now. I think this will be a lower scoring affair with both teams rushing a lot and throwing it in the 20-25 range. I do think this will be a close game but I think Butler and Jaxson Kincaide will combine for 260+ yards and lead the Pack to a much needed W.
As always, you can follow all of my debauchery @SaturdaysInReno and this will be a #JCFAfterDark event featuring lots of Crown Royal.