Nevada vs. UTEP: Game Preview, TV & Radio Schedule, Livestream, Odds and More
The Nevada Wolf Pack are looking to fix their offense as they hit the road to take on the UTEP Miners.
Can The Wolf Pack Solve Their Offensive Woes Against UTEP?
WEEK 4: Nevada Wolf Pack (2-1) vs. UTEP Miners (1-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 21st — 5:00 PM PT/4:00 PM MT
WHERE: Sun Bowl; El Paso, Texas (51,500)
SERIES RECORD: Nevada leads the all-time series, 2-1.
ODDS: Nevada -14.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Nevada by 20.7 (88% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Nevada by 12.0
The Nevada Wolf Pack travel to El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners this Saturday. This will be Nevada’s last non-conference game of the season before they dive into Mountain West conference play next week.
The Wolf Pack are coming off a tough victory last Saturday as they outlasted the Weber State Wildcats, 19-13. It was a game that saw the Wolf Pack defense play very well while the offense struggled to find consistency in moving the football.
Nevada could gain some of that offensive consistency against against a UTEP team that has been very bad recently. The Miners are coming off a 38-3 lost last week against Texas Tech. That loss to the Red Raiders last week made it UTEP’s 33rd loss in the last 35 contests. It is so bad for the Miners that during that time period, they have only beaten one FBS team and that was last November when they defeated Rice University.
UTEP and its head coach, Dana Dimel, are in the midst of a massive rebuilding job and this is the type of game that Nevada could use to fix their struggling offense. Can the Wolf Pack fix their offensive issues while closing out the non conference schedule on a winning note? Here are three keys and a score prediction.
Nevada must correct the struggling, inconsistent offense
Last week’s win over Weber State showed the inconsistencies that plagued the Wolf Pack offense so far this season..
The good was that freshman quarterback Carson Strong threw for almost 300 yards and completed 68 percent of his passes. The bad was that he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Strong also did not throw for a passing touchdown last week as the freshman QB continues to struggle.
The offensive line did contribute in the Wolf Pack having a good night running the ball. Nevada gained 153 yards rushing the ball last week. However, the offensive line is still struggling in pass protection as they gave up four sacks to Weber State and have given up a total of ten sacks in three games.
The Wolf Pack also have struggled scoring touchdowns in the red zone early on this season. In Nevada’s nine trips to the red zone, they have only scored two touchdowns. The Wolf Pack have come away with some points as place kicker Brandon Talton has been excellent converting all six field goals in Nevada’s nine red zone attempts but the 22 percent red zone rate of scoring touchdowns puts them fourth worst among the 130 FBS teams.
Nevada head coach Jay Norvell mentioned this week that Strong will still be the starting quarterback, but Malik Henry and Cristian Solano could come in and play. No matter who the starting quarterback is for Nevada, the offensive line must play better in pass protection, Carson Strong must be smart with the football and not turn it over and when they get to the redzone, the Wolf Pack must score touchdowns, not field goals.
Continue to get stellar play from the Wolf Pack defense
While Nevada’s offense struggled last week against Weber State, the defense played exceptionally well. The Wolf Pack defense gave up only 137 yards of total offense against Weber State, which was the lowest amount of total offense allowed by the Wolf Pack since 2011 when the Wolf Pack gave up 110 yards of offense to UNLV. Outside of the 11-yard touchdown pass by Weber State, the Wolf Pack defense was stellar last week.
The Wolf Pack defense must continue to play well while the offense tries to figure itself out. This is a unit that has the potential to be very special and going up against a terrible UTEP offense, Nevada’s defense has an opportunity to continue their stellar play.
Stop UTEP’s rushing attack.
UTEP is a team that is bereft of talent and that is especially true on offense. Their leading receiver, Tre’Shon Wolf, only has three catches this season. The Miners are playing two quarterbacks in Brandon Jones and Kai Locksley and still not getting much done in the air. And that lack of a passing game shows in the statistics as UTEP is ranked 12th in Conference USA in passing offense. Nationally, the Miners are ranked 116th in the nation in passing offense as they are averaging 161 passing yards per game. Yikes.
The Miners do have a lone bright spot and that is they have been able to run the ball. UTEP relies on their experienced offensive line to run the ball and have found some success in that category, averaging 158 rushing yards per game this season. Despite losing their top running back Quadraiz Wadley to a season ending toe injury, running back Treyvon Hughes has filled in admirably.
The running attack is the lone tool for this otherwise bad UTEP offense, so it is up to the Wolf Pack’s defense (that is especially good at stopping the run) to stop the Miners rushing attack on Saturday.
Prediction and Score:
UTEP is one of the worst Group of 5 teams in the country. The Miners have lost 33 of their last 35 games and their rebuild is still ongoing. Nevada outlasted Weber State last week and the Wolf Pack have their issues to deal with, especially on the offensive side of the football. The offensive line must protect Carson Strong better and Strong himself must play better as he has struggled in the last two games.
The good thing for Nevada is their defense has been playing well this season and they should continue that trend of good play against a UTEP team that outside of their rushing attack, is just bad on offense. Should the Wolf Pack get to the red zone, they must score touchdowns. I think Nevada will get their offense going and cruise to an easy victory over UTEP.
Score: Nevada 31 UTEP 6