Can Nevada Pull Off The Upset And Defeat San Diego State?
Nevada is coming off a impressive victory over San Jose State. Can they do the unthinkable and defeat SDSU?
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Nevada is looking to spring the upset on the road against San Diego State.
The Nevada Wolf Pack (2-8, 2-4) will travel to San Diego to play against the Aztecs (8-2, 4-2) on Saturday night. The Wolf Pack will be looking to pull off the upset against an Aztecs team that is still in the hunt to win the Western division of the Mountain West and attempt to win their third straight conference championship.
The Wolf Pack, coming off their victory over San Jose State last Saturday, will have their hands full against an Aztecs team that has a talented running game led by Rashaad Penny (1,602 yards, 15 touchdowns), the steady hand of Christian Chapman (1,445 passing yards, ten passing touchdowns) and a stout defense.
How can the Wolf Pack spring the upset of the Aztecs in San Diego? It’ll be a very tall task but here are three keys Nevada must follow for that to happen.
Ty Gangi Must Play Exceptional
Gang has played very well since becoming the full-time starter back in late September. Since then, he is third in the conference in passing yards averaging 230 yards a game and has thrown for 20 touchdowns which is good for second in the conference.
But he is facing an Aztec defense that is tops in the Mountain West in total defense (giving up 295 yards a game), rush defense (they allow 121 rushing yards a game) and is third in the conference in pass defense at 174 passing yards per game.
Gangi is going to have to play virtually a perfect game and get the ball to his playmakers on offense (Wyatt Demps and McLane Mannix) for Nevada to win on Saturday.
Try to Slow Down Rashaad Penny
Notice I said slow down Penny not stop Penny because you really can’t stop Penny, but you can attempt to slow him down which will be a tough task for Nevada.
Nevada’s run defense is horrendous as they are ranked second to last in the Mountain West in run defense as they have given up an average of 255 yards on the ground a game this season. Penny ran for 208 yards last season against Nevada, so the Wolf Pack must have a strong commitment to slowing down Penny and not letting him run wild on them.
If they can slow down Penny, then that would lead Nevada to this next key.
Force Chapman to beat the Wolf Pack using his arm
Should the Nevada defense be able to slow down Penny and put the Aztecs in some third and long situations, that could lead the way for Chapman to throw more than what the Aztecs would like.
Chapman has a very good touchdown to interception ratio (10 to 2), but the Aztecs are built on running the ball and if Chapman is throwing the ball more than they are running it then that could lead to some instances of the Nevada pass rush led by Malik Reed and the secondary led by Dameon Baber to make some big plays on defense and possibly spring the upset on the road against the Aztecs.
Its not going to be easy for the Wolf Pack to defeat the Aztecs on the road. San Diego State is still a talented team and the Wolf Pack are in the midst of a rebuild as they are trying to replenish their talent base.
If Nevada can slow down Penny and make the Aztecs a passing team and if Gangi can play a near flawless game, then it will go a long way for the Wolf Pack to knock off San Diego State.