San Jose State vs. Nevada: Keys For A Spartans Win
A championship berth is on the line.
Vegas hosting a big game.
WEEK 15: Nevada Wolf Pack (6-1) vs. San Jose State Spartans
WHEN: Friday, December 11 — 7:00 PM PT/8:00 PM MT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, NV
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes CBSSN, by following this link.
You can also find the audio broadcast on TuneIn.
RADIO: The Nevada broadcast can be found in and around Reno on 94.5 FM and elsewhere on the Wolf Pack Radio Network. The San Jose State broadcast can be found on 1220 AM (KDOW) out of Palo Alto.
SERIES RECORD: Nevada leads the series 22-9-1. In the last meeting on October 12, 2019, the Wolf Pack defeated the Spartans in Reno, 41-38.
LAST WEEK: Nevada defeated Fresno State at home, 37-26, while San Jose State won on the road at Hawaii, 35-24.
ODDS (as of 12/10, via BetMGM): San Jose State -2.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Nevada by 1.2 (53% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: San Jose State by 1.51
San Jose State has had a wild season by starting off the year in Humboldt State which is hours away from campus and of the past few weeks due to a Santa Clara County order that is not allowing contact sports until Dec. 21.
The path this Spartans team has taken to get to this point is wild. They had to go to Hawaii instead of hosting, and Friday night’s game is in Las Vegas.
This is why running backs coach Alonzo Carter is always prepared.
“Everybody laughs when I come rolling out with my luggages and my suits,” Carter said via ESPN. “I pack three suits. They’re like, ‘Man, what you doing?’ I’m like, ‘You’ve gotta be prepared.’ I’ve got a suit for each away game and a suit for the bowl game and a suit for the Mountain West championship game.”
Carter better have that title game suit because if the Spartans win they are in the Mountain West title game but at a location that is to be determined.
This game is a matchup of two very balanced teams and ones that are mirror-imaged of one another.
Keys for San Jose State
1. Copy Hawaii’s game plan?
The Nevada passing attack is really good and has had many explosive plays that include multiple 50-yard pass plays to Romeo Doubs. Hawaii chose to drop eight and not allow anything over the top to Doubs who in that game had one catch for 10 yards.
Nevada did not win the game as its big plays were minimized and the scheme worked as Nevada chose to run the ball instead and was successful. The Spartans secondary is middle of the pack in most categories but they are extremely good at defending passes with Tre Jenkins with three interceptions and five pass breakups, plus Tre Webb has three of his own.
The Spartan defense may do a modified drop with how their secondary fares, plus it helps that San Jose State has a really good defensive line with Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall who can get to the quarterback.
2. Keep a clean pocket for Nick Starkel
San Jose State QB Nick Starkel is really good and that is an understatement. He is averaging 283.5 yards per game when removing the San Diego State game which he left hurt. Starkle has 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions and is completing 66.2% of his passes.
The Spartans offensive line has been one of the best in the conference and has allowed just four all year and that comes out to less than one per game. This line will be challenged as Nevada even if Peterson does not play is really good and can get to the quarterback and are averaging a solid two sacks per game.
To keep Starkel upright, the Spartans need to have this offensive line at its peak, plus get Tyler Nevins and others going in the ground game. One key to offsetting this blitz is for San Jose State to bring in Nick Nash for a few designed runs to mix things up. The bottom line, if Starkel is not pressured and makes unimpeded throws they will beat Nevada.
3. Force field goals
In many games this year, Nevada has struggled to find the end zone. It is not necessarily boom or bust with this offense but when they get into the red zone it is almost 50/50 from touchdowns and field goals. The San Diego State game was a good example of that which saw Brandon Talton kick three field goals.
On the season, Nevada has 12 red zone field goals out of 29 attempts with 15 being touchdowns. That is by far the highest percentage in the Mountain West. If San Jose State can stop Nevada when they get in close it will give them a much better chance to win the game.