FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (30,000) — Reno, Nevada.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: CSU 2-0, Nevada 2-1. Away Record: CSU 1-1,
Nevada 1-1. Neutral Record: CSU 1-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 0-1,
Nevada 1-1. Series Record: Colorado State leads, 10-2.
GAME NOTES: Coming off their top offensive effort of the season, the Nevada
Wolf Pack are hoping they might be able to actually get back into the win
column this weekend when they clash with the Colorado State Rams in Mountain
West Conference play at Mackay Stadium in Reno.
Last Saturday, the Pack hosted Boise State in a key MWC battle and ended up
losing, 51-46, in front of the hometown fans. The defeat was the second in the
last three outings and dropped Nevada to 1-1 in league play. The Wolf Pack
entered the contest having turned the ball over just twice through the first
four games, but the squad was tripped up by four miscues versus the Broncos.
As for the Rams, since they bowed to Boise State (37-24) in the conference
opener back on Sept. 6, they’ve ripped off three straight victories. The most
recent of those triumphs came last Saturday when the team hosted Tulsa and
took the wind out of the Golden Hurricane with a 42-17 non-conference triumph.
Colorado State, which is 10-3 in the last 13 games dating back to last season,
is off to a 4-1 start for the first time since 2006, and is undefeated in non-
conference action for the first time since 1994.
This is the 13th all-time meeting between these two schools on the football
field, with the Rams having won 10 of the previous 12 encounters, including a
decisive 38-17 final last season in Fort Collins.
Playing the star for the Rams in their victory against Tulsa was receiver
Rashard Higgins, who set a CSU single-game record with four TD catches, tying
the MWC record as well. Higgins, who turned six receptions into 178 yards, now
has eight TD grabs on the season, just two shy of the single-season mark at
Quarterbacks Garrett Grayson and Nick Stevens combined to hit 16-of-26 passes
for 298 yards and those four scores, the former tossing an interception and
being sacked twice as well. On the ground, the Rams were aided by Dee Hart who
ran for a game-high 143 yards and scored twice on just 11 attempts.
Defensively, Aaron Davis was credited with a game-high 15 tackles, but Joe
Kawulok made quite an impression as 3.5 of his 10 stops were sacks. For
Kawulok, those were his first sacks of the season, while the rest of the unit
has combined for just 5.5 sacks to this point.
Throwing for close to 300 ypg, Grayson has an efficiency rating of 154.2
thanks to his 13 TDs and 61.4 percent accuracy. Higgins has made Grayson look
rather prolific during the first half of the campaign, turning 34 catches into
582 yards, for an average of more than 17 yards per catch.
Taking some of the pressure off Grayson and Higgins is Hart with his 453 yards
and four TDs on 61 rushing attempts. As a team, the Rams are gaining close to
six yards per attempt, resulting in 182.8 ypg rushing.
Nevada was chasing the Broncos almost the entire game last Saturday night and
despite scoring the final 10 points of the meeting, the Pack was left with the
five-point loss at home. Quarterback Cody Fajardo did all he could to keep
Nevada competitive, converting 23-of-43 passes for 306 yards and three
touchdowns, but he was sacked three times and had four passes picked off.
The signal caller added a team-best 71 yards and two more TDs on 12 rushing
attempts, but in the end it simply was not enough.
Obviously, the defense for Nevada was nowhere near as good as it needed to be
in order to fend off BSU, surrendering 570 yards and an average of 7.2 yards
per snap. Matthew Lyons put his best foot forward with a game-high 14 tackles,
while Rykeem Yates accounted for three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and
recovery, as well as a blocked kick.
Unfortunately, even with the efforts of Lyons and Yates, the Pack still finds
itself ranked 117th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (302.6),
and 107th in total defense (466.0 ypg).
But while the defense struggles to hold down the competition, the legend of
Fajardo continues to grow in the Silver State. Just the third player in
program history to accumulate at least 11,000 yards of total offense, Fajardo
is completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 220.8 ypg, but he has almost as
many INTs (five) as he does aerial TDs (seven) at this stage. Bailing out
Fajardo more than anyone else has been Jarred Gipson who has turned 17 catches
into four TDs thus far.
Clearly there is a huge connection between Grayson and Higgins these days for
the Rams, and with Hart also finding plenty of holes to exploit defenses,
expect the visitors to put up a fight this weekend while the Pack relies
almost solely on Fajardo.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 27, Nevada 21