Nevada Football: Three Keys And A Prediction For Nevada Vs Fresno State
The Wolf Pack return to action Saturday night as they travel to Fresno to take on the Bulldogs.
Can The Wolf Pack Get Win Number Seven On The Road Against Fresno State?
The Nevada Wolf Pack return to the gridiron this Saturday night as they take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. The contest between the Wolf Pack and the Bulldogs will be played at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno,California with a 7:30pm kickoff on ESPN2.
The last time the Nevada was in action was two weeks ago when they defeated #24 ranked San Diego State 17-13 The win over the Aztecs made Nevada bowl eligible for the second straight season and was the first win over an AP top 25 team on the road in school history.
This week, Nevada must look to improve on that win and strengthen their chances of making a bowl game. Even though the Wolf Pack are bowl eligible, due to the lack of bowl spots available for the Mountain West, Nevada could be in a position similar to Wyoming last year when the Cowboys went 6-6 and did not go bowling.
Nevada is taking on a Fresno State team that is 4-6 and coming off a loss to the Aztecs in San Diego last Friday night. The Bulldogs need to win the last two games of the season (against Nevada and next week against San Jose State) to become bowl eligible.
Nevada is eliminated from winning the West division but can strengthen their bowl outlook while Fresno State needs to win to keep their bowl hopes alive.
Can the Wolf Pack go into Fresno and defeat the Bulldogs for the first time since 2016? Here are my keys and a prediction for Nevada vs Fresno State.
Continue to get good play from the Wolf Pack defense
Nevada’s defense for most of this season has been much maligned due to its porous play. However, the defense turned in a good performance in the win against San Diego State two weeks ago.
The Wolf Pack limited the Aztecs offense, a run-oriented unit, to only 2.9 yards per rush and held them to 13 points. The Wolf Pack defensive line led by Dom Peterson, Hausia Sekona and Sam Hammond, pressured Aztecs quarterback Ryan Agnew all night and forced him into throwing an interception.
Nevada is going to need the defense to continue to play well this week on the road against Fresno State. If Nevada’s defense can turn in another good performance this week against Fresno State, then they have a strong chance of leaving central California with a win.
Continued improvement from Carson Strong
The redshirt freshman from Vacaville, California had a solid night in the win against San Diego State. Strong completed 19 of 26 passes for 147 yards and threw one touchdown pass and one interception that went off the hands of the intended receiver.
Outside of that interception, Strong played well and made few mistakes as he lead the Wolf Pack offense to the upset victory over the Aztecs two weeks ago. The Wolf Pack will need Strong to continue to improve his play and make the Wolf Pack offense more explosive.
Strong has the weapons on offense in Romeo Doubs and Elijah Cooks to go along with running backs Toa Taua and Devonate Lee. The offensive line is still not good so it is up to that offensive line and Strong especially to improve their play in order for Nevada to win on Saturday.
Stopping Jorge Reyna and Ronnie Rivers
Fresno State’s offense has two standouts in quarterback Jorge Reyna and running back Ronnie Rivers. This season Reyna has thrown for over 2,200 yards and has thrown 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Reyna has also ran for over 400 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns.
Ronnie Rivers has ran for over 700 yards this season while scoring a Mountain West leading 12 rushing touchdowns. The combination of Reyna and Rivers is one of the reasons why Fresno State is averaging over 31 points per game and in a position to be bowl eligible with two games left in the season.
Nevada’s defense is going to have to find a way to stop Reyna and Rivers from having a good night. When Fresno State played the Aztecs last Friday, San Diego State’s defense limited the Bulldogs offense to one touchdown and 206 yards total offense.
San Diego State’s defense was able to stop Fresno State’s offense last week. Now it is up to an improving Wolf Pack defense to contain the Bulldogs offense and its top two players in Reyna and Rivers.
Prediction and Score
Nevada got a big time win two weeks ago against San Diego State to become bowl eligible. Now coming off a bye week, the Wolf Pack hit the road again to take on a Fresno State team that is needing to win out to be bowl eligible.
This game for the Wolf Pack will be another challenge as they face a talented Fresno State offense led by quarterback Jorge Reyna and running back Ronnie Rivers. The Bulldogs have been inconsistent this season which explains their 4-6 record. But offensively they are capable of putting up points and attacking Nevada’s still vulnerable secondary.
But I think Nevada’s defensive line can be the difference maker as they are capable of putting pressure on Reyna and force him into making mistakes. Also with Nevada head coach Jay Norvell calling plays on offense, I think he can put Strong in a position to get the ball to playmakers like Doubs to move the Wolf Pack offense and score points.
It is going to be a close contest but I like the Wolf Pack defensive line and an improving Carson Strong to be the difference when they play Fresno State on Saturday night.
Score: Nevada 23 Fresno State 17