Nevada Football: Three Keys To A Win Vs San Diego State
Nevada travels to San Diego to take on the Aztecs as the Wolf Pack are looking to win back to back games.
Can Nevada Pull Off The Upset of #24 San Diego State?
The Nevada Wolf Pack return to action this weekend when they take on the San Diego State Aztecs. The contest between the Wolf Pack and the Aztecs is set for a 7:30pm PST kickoff time in San Diego and will be televised on ESPN2.
The Wolf Pack are coming into this contest with a 5-4 overall record and a 2-3 conference record after defeating New Mexico 21-10 last week. The win over the Lobos snapped Nevada’s two game losing streak and placed the Wolf Pack one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the second straight season.
Nevada got a good performance from its quarterback Carson Strong who completed 28 of 40 passes for 305 passing yards and two touchdown passes against the Lobos. Those touchdown passes were the first Strong threw since the game against Purdue back in August.
The competition for Strong and the Wolf Pack gets tougher as they take on the 7-2 Aztecs this Saturday. San Diego State does boast one of the best defenses in the Mountain West and will provider a much tougher challenge for Nevada’s offense. The stout defense and steady quarterback play from quarterback Ryan Agnew (10 touchdowns, three interceptions, 63.9 completion percentage) is why the Aztecs sit atop the Western division with a 4-1 conference record.
Can Nevada’s offense somehow move the ball and score points against the stingy Aztec defense? Can Nevada’s defense force San Diego State into some mistakes and turnovers?
Here are my keys and a prediction
Play a clean game free of turnovers and costly penalties
Before the New Mexico game last week, the Wolf Pack had seven straight games where they turned the ball over at least twice. In their game against the Lobos, Nevada did not turn it over a single time.
When it came to penalties, Nevada was penalized six times for 30 yards and most of those penalties were for a false start on the offense. Overall, Nevada played a clean game against New Mexico and avoided those drive killing penalties and turnovers that have doomed them this season.
Nevada is going to have to play close to a flawless game this week in order to defeat San Diego State. Nevada not turning the ball over and avoiding those drive killing penalties could go a long way in defeating a San Diego State team that ranked second in the Mountain West in turnover margin.
Get the ball to Romeo Doubs on Offense
The Wolf Pack offense against New Mexico last week was the best it has been in weeks and wide receiver Romeo Doubs was a big reason why that was the case.
Against the Lobos, Doubs caught 11 passes for 167 yards and caught a touchdown pass in one of his best performances of the season. Doubs showed why he has the potential to be one of the best wide receivers in the Mountain West if he continues that stellar play.
Doubs and the Wolf Pack offense will have quite the challenge this week going up against an Aztec defense that is third in the Mountain West in pass defense (213.6 passing yards), first in the Mountain West in scoring defense (14.1 ppg) and ranked in the top 20 nationally in total defense.
Head coach Jay Norvell, who now has taken a larger role in the play calling, must call some plays that gets the ball in the hands of Doubs and hope Doubs can make good things happen if Nevada is going to beat San Diego State on Saturday on the road.
Nevada’s defensive line needs step up and play well
Nevada’s defense this season has been below average at best but they are good at stopping the run. Which is going to be needed since San Diego State’s offense is a run-oriented unit. It is important for Nevada’s defensive line to stop the Aztecs rushing offense and force the Aztecs quarterback Ryan Agnew (who has played well this season but is only averaging 6.5 yards passing yards per attempt this season) into throwing the ball more than the Aztecs want him to throw it.
This type of game against the Aztecs is also important for Nevada players suchs as defensive end Dom Peterson to play well and cause havoc against a San Diego State offensive line that has struggled a bit this season. If Peterson and the Wolf Pack front seven can stymie the Aztec offensive attack, that would improve Nevada’s chances of springing the upset of San Diego State on Saturday.
Prediction and Score
Nevada got a much needed win last week against the New Mexico Lobos. But this week, the Wolf Pack take on a San Diego State team that is very good on defense and Nevada has had their issues on offense so this will be a challenge for them in San Diego.
One thing that could work in Nevada’s favor in this game is that San Diego State’s usually stellar run offense has been down this year and the Wolf Pack have been able to stop the run. If they can stuff the Aztec run attack, they may have a chance.
But Aztec quarterback Ryan Agnew has been playing well and not turning the ball over this season. And given the problems with the Wolf Pack secondary, Agnew should be able methodically pick apart the Nevada secondary.
Combined that with San Diego State’s stout defense and Nevada’s 0-18 record all time against AP top-25 teams on the road, I don’t see the Wolf Pack coming away with the win on Saturday.
Final Score Prediction: San Diego State 27 Nevada 14