Nevada (3-3) at BYU (4-2) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,725) — Provo, Utah.
Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Nevada 2-2, BYU 2-1. Away Record: Nevada 1-1,
BYU 2-1. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-0, BYU 0-0. Conference Record: Nevada 1-2,
BYU 0-0. Series Record: BYU leads, 5-2-2.

GAME NOTES: Coming off their second straight defeat, the BYU Cougars try to
find their way back into the win column as they host the Nevada Wolf Pack at
LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night.

Since opening the season with four straight wins and being included in the AP
Top-25, the Cougars have begun moving in the wrong direction. Granted, the
team has lost quarterback and Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill for the season with
a fractured left leg, but still the squad had a chance to come out on top
against UCF last week.

Unfortunately, the Cougars dug themselves an early hole and then made some
crucial mistakes, on their way to falling to the Knights, 31-24, in overtime.

As for the Wolf Pack, they faced off against a third straight Mountain West
Conference opponent last Saturday night and were met with a second consecutive
defeat as the team came up short versus visiting Colorado State, 31-24.
Similar to the Cougars, Nevada also fell behind before fashioning a frantic
comeback bid, only to come up short of at least pushing the meeting with the
Rams to overtime.

The Cougars are ahead in the all-time series by a count of 5-2-2, thanks to a
28-23 victory last season in Reno.

Trailing by 28 points in the second half, the Wolf Pack mounted a desperate
surge to perhaps shake up the Rams in Reno, but even with three unanswered
touchdowns it simply wasn’t meant to be. Quarterback Cody Fajardo ran for one
touchdown and threw for two more as the Pack narrowed the gap significantly
before time ran out.

Fajardo finished the meeting 27-of-50 for 297 yards and those two scores, not
to mention an interception. The signal caller also led the ground attack for
the hosts with 12 carries for 88 yards. Wide receiver Jerico Richardson
recorded 10 catches for 122 yards, but failed to find his way into the end
zone.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Pack came up with just a single sack
and only one turnover, a fumble forced by Nigel Haikins who just happened to
be the top tackler for the group as well with 10 stops.

After the efforts displayed by the Pack last week, it should come as little
surprise that the team has been very weak offensively when they open meetings,
scoring a combined 17 points in the first quarter. At the other end of the
spectrum, Nevada has poured it on down the stretch, producing 69 points in the
fourth frame, but that late effort doesn’t always equate to success.

Following in the footsteps of former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick,
Fajardo is among the next generation of running quarterbacks in the Silver
State, leading his team with 405 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, as
well as completing 61.8 percent of his passes for another nine TDs, but also
six picks.

In a game that was delayed several times due to injuries, BYU came up just
short against host UCF last week. Quarterback Christian Stewart took some time
to warm up, but he eventually delivered three passing touchdowns in a span of
just three minutes in the third quarter in order to give the Cougars a 24-10
advantage. However, the offense dried up and the defense for BYU softened a
bit, en route to the overtime loss.

Stewart finished the night 22-of-37 for 153 yards, was sacked twice and tossed
an interception. The quarterback also did his best Hill impersonation as he
placed second on the Cougars with 52 rushing yards, trailing only Algernon
Brown who had a game-high 80 yards..

Defensively, BYU was exploited by UCF quarterback Justin Holman who threw for
326 yards and two scores, but the visitors also picked off Holman twice.
Although he finished with just two tackles, Sione Takitaki was credited with
not only two sacks, but also a forced fumble and a recovery.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, linebacker Alani Fua, who leads the program
with three sacks, has 4.5 tackles for loss and is fourth in tackles overall
(30) despite already missing one game, may not be available this week either
as he continues to deal with an ankle injury.

With Fua potentially out of the picture, you might be wondering how the
seventh-best run defense in the nation will hold up. You can be sure that
Fajardo and his cohorts will do what they can to expose the Cougars, who are
allowing a mere 92.2 ypg, but they might be better suited going after the BYU
secondary which is 114th in the country this week with a hefty 291.5 ypg
permitted.

There’s no question the Cougars are severely hampered by the loss of Hill, but
Stewart is hoping he’ll get the opportunity to continue to prove his value and
get beyond the fact that he has completed only 48.5 percent of his attempts
and still has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three) leading up to
the seventh game of the campaign.

The key to the game for the Pack will be to rattle Stewart in the pocket as
much as possible and force the unseasoned quarterback into some poor
decisions, something he is prone to do.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 27, BYU 20