FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (30,000) — Reno, Nevada.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SDSU 3-0, Nevada 2-2. Away Record: SDSU 1-3,
Nevada 3-1. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: SDSU 3-1,
Nevada 2-2. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 4-2.
GAME NOTES: Winners of three of their first four Mountain West Conference
games, the San Diego State Aztecs will try to improve upon their record
outside of Qualcomm Stadium as they challenge the Nevada Wolf Pack at Mackay
Stadium on Saturday night.
Despite being just one game over .500 on the season, the Aztecs find
themselves in first place in the West Division of the MWC standings. The team
spent some time off last week after taking out Hawaii on Oct. 18 by a score of
20-10 at home. The victory was the second in a row and the third in four tries
for the program, already having enjoyed two weeks off in the schedule.
As for the Wolf Pack, they too recently locked up with the Rainbow Warriors,
but in their case they were out on the island at Aloha Stadium last Saturday
night, holding on for a 26-18 victory. The win was the second straight for the
team, after having lost three of the previous four outings. With their 12-game
schedule, a win this weekend would make the Pack bowl eligible.
The Aztecs have a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series with Nevada, thanks to
a thrilling 51-44 overtime decision last season at Qualcomm Stadium.
Unfortunately for SDSU, the passing attack has taken several steps in the
wrong direction after it was ranked in the top-40 nationally last season.
Through seven games, the team is producing just 170.3 ypg through the air,
ranking 113th in the FBS. Taking the majority of the snaps is Quinn Kaehler
who has completed 57.4 percent of his attempts, but has a mere three TDs
against seven interceptions.
When you add in the other players who have attempted a pass this season, the
Aztecs find themselves with more than twice as many picks (10) as TDs (four)
through the air, which is why they have a pass efficiency rating of only
102.31 (120th in the country).
Running back Donnel Pumphrey has been trying to take up some of the slack with
his 989 yards and 12 touchdowns on 144 carries, his average of 141.3 ypg being
one of the best in the nation, but there’s only so much he can do when being
hit time and time again. And the problem seems to be, if Pumphrey is not the
one with the ball in his hands coming out of the backfield, there is little
chance anyone else will have even a fraction of the success.
On the defensive side of the ball, San Diego State is making things rather
interesting by limiting opponents to 18.7 ppg (12th nationally), but much of
the effort in that department came against much weaker opponents in Hawaii,
New Mexico and Northern Arizona.
In an odd twist, it turns out that the red zone defense for the Aztecs is one
that is allowing foes to score on 94.1 percent of their possessions inside the
20-yard line. At this point, there are only a handful of teams in the FBS that
are performing worse in that area.
Providing some serious hitting for SDSU are leading tackler Josh Gavert with
his 49 stops, followed by Calvin Munson who is not only second with 45
tackles, he leads the program with 7.5 stops for loss, has a pair of sacks and
After beginning their relationship against Hawaii with seven straight defeats
in Honolulu, the Pack have now won back-to-back dates at Aloha Stadium and
four straight overall, as they held on for the eight-point victory last
Controlling the action for more than 37 minutes, Nevada converted 10-of-20 on
third down and both fourth-down tries, even with Cody Fajardo have a sub par
effort throwing the ball. The quarterback finished 17-of-26 for just 128 yards
and a score, not to mention an interception, although he did record his 10th
career 100-yard rushing game as he finished with a game-high 133 yards and two
TDs on 23 attempts. As a team, Nevada posted 299 yards on 61 carries.
Nevada’s defense managed to force a pair of turnovers, an interception by
Duran Workman and a fumble recovery from Charles Garrett. The unit logged five
tackles for loss, two by Lenny Jones who also posted the lone sack for the
Workman, who has missed one game, leads the squad with three interceptions.
With those two forced turnovers, the Pack now find themselves ranked 10th in
the country with a plus-1.13 turnovers per contest. Turnovers happens to be
one of the more favorable stats for Nevada these days, another being red zone
offense (sixth in the FBS) which has seen the team come away with points 94.4
percent of the time.
Responsible for many of those scores inside the 20-yard line in one way or
another is Fajardo who, in addition to completing 62.6 percent of his passes
for 226.8 ypg and 11 TDs, is also the leading rusher for Nevada with 585 net
yards, leading to a team-best 10 TDs. Also making contributions in the running
game are Don Jackson and James Butler with a combined 890 yards and the other
seven rushing touchdowns.
With Fajardo heading up the offense for the Wolf Pack, the home team in this
case has a distinct advantage over San Diego State, even with Pumphrey trying
to balance the scales.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 30, San Diego State 17