Nevada Football: First Look at the Revised 2020 Schedule
The Wolf Pack will get their chance to contend for the Mountain West crown after all, but how favorable is their new path to the top of the conference?
Will the Pack smell blood?
The Nevada Wolf Pack came into 2020 as a trendy pick to contend for its first West division title, but while that opportunity has vanished for the time being, Jay Norvell now has a prime opportunity to earn a shot at an even bigger prize: The Mountain West football championship.
The schedule is here, and the hunt on is on.
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) October 1, 2020
Here’s what the week-by-week schedule looks like with the most recent SP+ rankings from September 27, where Nevada is 107th overall, in parentheses:
October 24 – vs. Wyoming (84)
October 31 – at UNLV (122)
November 7 – vs. Utah State (100)
November 14 – at New Mexico (121)
November 21 – vs. San Diego State (68)
November 28 – at Hawaii (91)
December 5 – vs. Fresno State (99)
December 12 – at San Jose State (102)
What are the biggest initial takeaways?
1. Does it sting to play a full conference slate when others don’t? Sure…
Norvell lamented in a discussion with Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray that he “would have preferred everybody play the same amount of conference games”, speaking to the fact that Air Force will face just six Mountain West opponents while Boise State and San Diego State will play only seven. Given the possibility of inequities down the road — 7-0 Aztecs and Broncos teams would play in the title ahead of a 7-1 Wolf Pack, after all — it’s hard to blame him for being miffed.
2. …But it could be worse.
The upside is that the Wolf Pack will get to duck both Boise State and Colorado State, two of the top three projected teams via SP+, in that eight-game schedule, and face San Diego State at home. In fact, most if not all of the toughest opponents will visit Mackey Stadium, so more consistent play than we’ve seen in the last two years could make Nevada a real force.
3. Survive Wyoming, gain an inside track.
On paper, opening conference play against Craig Bohl’s Cowboys back in the summer would’ve looked like a trial, but between a recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Wyoming football program and several key defensive players opting out of the 2020 season, circumstances have changed. If the end result is a diminished Pokes team that isn’t all the way ready to play, the Wolf Pack could race out to a 4-0 start before that pivotal game against SDSU on November 21.
Hardest stretch: vs. San Diego State, at Hawaii
Easiest stretch: at UNLV, vs. Utah State, at New Mexico
Guaranteed wins: none
Guaranteed losses: none
Worse than 50/50 games: none
50/50 games: at Hawaii, vs. San Diego State, at San Jose State vs. Wyoming
Better than 50/50 games: vs. Fresno State at New Mexico, at UNLV, vs. Utah State
Preliminary projected record: 6-2