Nevada VS #22 San Diego State: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Wolf Pack will take on the San Diego Aztecs in a match that could decide the West division of the Mountain West
Nevada and #22 San Diego State Clash In Pivotal Division Contest
WEEK 11: Nevada Wolf Pack vs. San Diego State Aztecs
WHERE: Dignity Health Sports Park: Carson, California
TV: CBS Sports Network at 7:30pm
RADIO: Nevada Football is on ESPN 94.5 in Reno
SERIES RECORD: San Diego State leads the all-time series 7-6. The last meeting between the two schools was on November 21st 2020 when Nevada won 26-21. The Wolf Pack have won three straight against San Diego State
ODDS: San Diego State (-3)
SP+ PROJECTION: San Diego State by 7.8
FEI PROJECTION: San Diego State by 2.6
Here are my three keys for a Nevada victory and a prediction for Nevada- #22 San Diego State.
Continue to create big plays on defense
In the last two weeks, the Nevada defense has produced some big plays that have resulted in touchdowns.
Against UNLV, the Wolf Pack defense held the Rebels to just 10 yards rushing and forced three turnovers including two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. And last week against San Jose State, the Nevada defense was once again wrecking havoc. Against the Spartans, the Wolf Pack forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and Nevada defensive back Berdale Robins picked off a Nick Starkel pass and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown.
While the Wolf Pack offense struggled against the Spartans, the Wolf Pack defense rose up to produce some much needed scoring in the win last week. Nevada’s defense was a big reason why the Wolf Pack have an opportunity to defeat San Diego State this week.
For Nevada to defeat San Diego State, the Wolf Pack must continue to get big plays on defense. If the Wolf Pack can do that, then they stand a very good chance of defeating the Aztecs on Saturday.
Stop Greg Bell
The Aztec offense is all about running the ball and their feature running back is senior Greg Bell.
Bell is fourth in the Mountain West in rushing yards with 745 and tied for fifth in the conference among running backs with seven touchdowns. In San Diego State’s 17-10 win over Hawaii last week, Bell recorded 24 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. Bell’s running along with the Aztec defense was the reason why SDSU came away with the close victory.
The Wolf Pack defense has been inconsistent in stopping the run this season. After only giving up 10 yards rushing against UNLV, the Wolf Pack gave up 161 rushing yards in the win over San Jose State last week, The Wolf Pack are helped out by the fact that the Aztec run offense has struggled recently as Greg Bell has not had a 100 yard rushing game since October 9th.
With the Aztec rushing game having issues and their passing game being not much of a threat (SDSU QB Lucas Johnson only threw for 99 yards against Hawaii last week) it is even more important for the Wolf Pack defense to tighten up and stop Greg Bell on Saturday.
Play clean, mistake free football on offense
For three and a half quarters, the Wolf Pack offense was sputtering and could not get it together against San Jose State.
The Spartan’s defense stymied the Wolf Pack offense by pressuring Carson Strong with four rushers while playing two deep safeties and keeping everything in front to eliminate the deep passing threat of Nevada.
The result was the Wolf Pack offense struggling as Carson Strong threw two interceptions being constantly pressured by the Spartan defense and just overall being a mess. In the fourth quarter, Strong and the Wolf Pack offense did find just enough offense to defeat the Spartans and come away with the victory.
The Wolf Pack cannot make the same mistakes they did last week against San Diego State this week. Once again, the Aztecs have a very good and talented defense that is not just one of the best in the Mountain West but in the nation. The Wolf Pack are only giving up 2.8 yards per play rushing and 5.5 yards per play passing. The Aztecs may not score a lot of points but their defense has prevented most of their competition from scoring against them.
For the Wolf Pack to defeat San Diego State, they must play a clean, mistake free game. Nevada must protect the football and not commit silly penalties because this Aztec defense will take advantage and put the Wolf Pack in a bad position.
This contest between the Wolf Pack and the Aztecs on Saturday has the feeling of their 2019 contest in San Diego. If you remember that game, the game was a low scoring, defensive contest that Nevada won when Elijah Cooks threw a 50 yard pass to Bredan O’Leary-Orange on a trick play to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Devontae Lee. The Wolf Pack defeated the Aztecs on the road 17-13 for their first win over an AP Top 25 ranked team on the road in program history.
The 2021 contest between Nevada and San Diego State feels like it will mirror the 2019 game. Defensive, low scoring game that will be decided on which team can get the big play to get them over the top. The Wolf Pack offense has struggled to run block and pass block and it won’t get easy this week against the Aztecs.
On the other hand, the Aztec offense has struggled especially in the running game and that is something that the Wolf Pack can exploit. We know San Diego State is not much of a threat to pass the ball so Nevada can load up to stop the run.
I like Nevada in this game because they have gotten big plays on defense at the right time. But most importantly, Carson Strong has been capable of coming up with a big play on offense to help Nevada win and I think he can do it against the Aztecs this week.
Nevada 20 San Diego State 16