FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (30,000) — Reno, Nevada.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Fresno State 3-2, Nevada 3-2. Away Record:
Fresno State 1-4, Nevada 3-2. Neutral Record: Fresno State 0-0, Nevada 0-0.
Conference Record: Fresno State 3-3, Nevada 3-3. Series Record: Fresno State
GAME NOTES: Two of the three teams tied for first place in the West Division
of the Mountain West Conference get together at Mackay Stadium this weekend,
as the Nevada Wolf Pack entertains the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Both teams control their own destinies when it comes to winning the division
and taking part in the conference championship game, and they would have an
easier time of it if San Diego State, which is also 3-3 in league play, lost
to Air Force this week.
The Bulldogs are a squad that nearly ran the table last season, but that was
with quarterback Derek Carr at the helm and this time around the squad isn’t
always sold on who they put under center. Still, with a record of 4-6 overall
they are somehow still in the hunt for the postseason with this and a meeting
against Hawaii remaining on the schedule.
Fresno has been off since Nov.8 when it took down San Jose State in a 38-24
final. The win snapped a three-game slide, the team’s second such losing
streak this season.
As for the Wolf Pack, they boast the best overall record of any team in the
division at 6-4, although one of those victories was logged against Southern
Utah in the opener. Last weekend, the team had a three-game win streak come to
an end when it bowed to Air Force on the road in overtime, 45-38.
Thanks to a 41-23 victory at home last season, the Bulldogs now lead the all-
time series by a margin of 26-18-1 over Nevada. Since coming over from the
Western Athletic Conference, FSU has won both meetings with the Pack.
The Bulldogs have gone to great lengths to try and find a replacement for
Carr, using as many as three different quarterbacks that have all had varying
degrees of success. For the most part, it has been Brian Burrell stepping
under center, appearing in all 10 games and completing 58.1 percent of his
pass attempts for 176.9 ypg and a total of 16 TDs, but at the same time he has
also tossed 10 INTs, which have slowed the team’s progress.
But no matter who it is handling the passing duties, the main target down the
field remains the same, and that is Josh Harper. The wideout has 62 catches,
39 more than his closest teammate, leading to 793 yards and six touchdowns.
Marteze Waller, who paces the program with 1,086 yards and nine scores on the
ground, is second on the team with 23 receptions coming out of the backfield.
While the offense has been decent for Fresno State, the defense has struggled
more often than not, although much of the inflated numbers still stem from the
first three games when the program allowed a combined 166 points to the likes
of USC, Utah and Nebraska.
The squad ranks 113th in the nation with 491.1 ypg allowed and 124th in pass
efficiency defense with a rating of 161.93, and if the Wolf Pack are smart
they will try to expose the latter this week.
FSU has just six interceptions, two of those coming from Kyrie Wilson who is
also first on the team with 77 tackles and is tied for the team lead with a
pair of forced fumbles.
The Pack had a chance to extend the meeting with Air Force last week after the
Falcons scored a touchdown in overtime, by needing three yards with two downs
remaining, Cody Fajardo misfired on a pair of pass attempts to Richy Turner,
leaving the Academy to celebrate yet another win.
Fajardo ended up converting 24 of his 36 passes for 275 yards and a pair of
scores, adding another 100 yards rushing on 11 attempts for a squad that
finished with 223 yards. Doing the bulk of the damage on the ground was Don
Jackson with 121 yards and three TDs on 28 carries.
Jordan Dobrich did all he could to shake up the Falcons on the defensive side
of the ball as he tallied a game-high 16 tackles, while Rykeem Yates stepped
up with not only three tackles for loss, but a forced fumble as well.
For the season, the Nevada defense has been a bit shaky for the most part,
allowing 447.4 ypg which is 102nd in the country this week. The squad has
surrendered 276.8 ypg through the air (111th), registering only nine
interceptions through 10 games, three of those coming from Duran Workman who
has played in just nine contests.
The top threat on offense remains Fajardo as he can do just as much damage
with his legs (689 yards, 10 TDs) as he can with his arm (202.2 ypg, 14 TDs).
However, the signal caller can be a bit too predictable when he remains in the
pocket because it is clear that Turner, Hasaan Henderson and Kameron
Richardson are all preferred targets who have combined for 149 receptions and
Being at home will be a huge advantage for the Wolf Pack as the weather could
easily have an affect on the outcome. With Fresno State still having trouble
getting comfortable with just one quarterback, the Nevada defense could see
that as a weakness and center their attack on rushing the passer.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 31, Fresno State 23