Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada takes on Utah State in it's final home game of 2016

With a bowl berth out of the picture, Nevada can send their seniors out in style.

Utah State (3-7) at Nevada (3-7)

Saturday, November 19th, 1:00pm

Line (Atlantis): USU -6.5; O/U: 55.0

All-Time: Nevada leads 17-6

TV/Online/Radio: None/WatchESPN/ESPN 94.5

I can't remember the last time we had two Nevada basketball games and one football game all at home on a single weekend, but it doesn't get better than that for me.  I hope we see a great crowd at Lawlor tonight as this team really deserves our support as do the 21 seniors playing their final home game at Mackay on Saturday afternoon.
https://twitter.com/BrianPolian/status/799048582892376064

Wyoming/New Mexico/San Diego State Thoughts

While I have been away from the weekly previews for the last two games if you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been watching and/or attending all of the games.  I'm certainly not surprised they lost all three of these games but Nevada had a chance to win two of them.

QB Ty Gangi has been a nice surprise and has bolstered the Wolf Pack offense giving that unit another dimension that they really haven't had most of the last two seasons.  He has 6 iNT's already and while that is a bit worrisome, I love the confidence he has.  He's taken some big hits in all three games and that hasn't deterred him from stepping up in the pocket and firing down the field.  I'm also appreciative of how many different receivers he gets involved in the passing game.  WR Wyatt Demps has proved to be a favorite target of Gangi's and he has the stat line to prove it (18 catches for 282 yards and 2 TD's) in the last three contests.

The defense is still a dumpster fire.  They've had an incredible amount of injuries this season but the run defense has been porous since Labor Day.   After the last three games, Nevada's rushing defense average has gone from 250.71 (125th in the nation) to 299.30 (DFL) and the nearest defense is at 283.  The Wolf Pack defense are in a league of their own, shout out Geena Davis.  Granted they just faced the two best RB's in the MWC and the nation's best rushing attack, but this is the worst Nevada run defense I've ever seen and this school isn't exactly used to having 2001 Miami's defense out there.

On to Utah State
Tale of the Tape from the S&P+ Rankings:

  • Utah State (71st Overall): Offense: 76th, Defense: 54th, Special Teams: 98th
  • Nevada (125th Overall): Offense: 102nd, Defense: 124th, Special Teams: 115th
  • S&P+ Prediction: Utah State with a 78% chance to win, with a projected score of 36.7-23.3

These two teams played a wild game in Logan one year ago.  A game in which Nevada dominated in the 1st Half, 21-7, and then RB James Butler busted a 60-yard run for a score on the opening possession of the 3rd Quarter to give Nevada a 27-7 lead.  They wouldn't score again and with some untimely turnovers, Utah State stormed back to win 31-27 in what wasn't even the most infuriating game of last season.


The first thing you notice about the Aggies is the S&P+ rates them a lot higher than their record indicates.  I don't necessarily understand that because while they have 3 losses by 7 points or less, they've gotten their doors blown off by Wyoming, San Diego State, USC and Boise State.  Utah State doesn't have a ton of fire power on offense, they're pretty average but they have a very good defense.  Their defense only allows 386 yards per game (188 passing, 198 rushing) and concede 28.6 points per game.

It remains to be seen how healthy Butler will be for this game, after a concussion against SDSU, but it does seem like the Silver & Blue should be able to have success on the ground against the Aggies.  I fully expect USU to put 8-9 guys in the box and make Gangi beat them though, especially with his propensity to turn the ball over.

For the first time in over a month, Nevada isn't facing an elite rushing offense.  Utah State only averages 155 a game on the ground though with the Pack's defensive "prowess," it is easy to see them going for 230+ on the ground led by Tonny Lindsay and Devante Mays.  Aggies QB Kent Myers completes 59.6% of his passes and has 10 TD's and 6 INT's on the year.  Nevada hasn't had great success getting pressure on the opposing QB this year, but the Aggies have allowed 26.0 sacks this season.

Around the MWC

The game of the week with MW Championship Game implications is Saturday night in Laramie when San Diego State takes on Wyoming.  After the Pokes shocking triple OT loss to UNLV, one more L will give Boise State a leg up in winning the Mountain Division...Boise State leapfrogged undefeated Western Michigan in this week's CFP Rankings as they came in at #20 and play UNLV tonight...There are currently 5 MW teams that are bowl eligible (SDSU, Boise, AFA, Wyoming, New Mexico) and only Colorado State has a shot at also getting there, though they'll have to beat either New Mexico at home or SDSU in San Diego...

Fremont's Bet (4-3): While I think Utah State is clearly the better ball team, even though both teams records are the same, there's nothing that jumps out at me to think the Aggies will win this game by 7+. I think Nevada +6.5 will keep this thing close the entire way and Butler/Jaxson Kincaide will have a good afternoon. Nevada is just 2-8 against the spread this season, but I just have a feeling this will be a 3-point game.

 


As always, you can follow all of my Crown Royal-fueled debauchery @SaturdaysInReno.  Battle Born!


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