Incarnate Word vs. Nevada: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
Nevada looks to improve their record to 3-0 as they face off against Incarnate Word
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Nevada Returns To Action On Saturday To Face Off Against UIW
WEEK 2: Nevada Wolf Pack (2-0) vs. Incarnate Word Cardinals (1-0)
WHEN: Saturday, September 10th — 2:30 PM PT/3:30 PM MT
TV: Nevada Sports Net–Go To NevadaSportsNet.com to watch the game
STREAMING: Mountain West Network
RADIO: Nevada is on ESPN 94.5 in Reno and Incarnate Word is on KUIW Internet Radio.
SERIES RECORD: This will the first contest between Nevada and Incarnate Word.
WEBSITES: NevadaWolfPack.com, the official Nevada athletics website | UIWCardinals.com, the official Incarnate Word athletics website
ODDS: Nevada -2 (Per VegasInsider.com)
SP+ PROJECTION: Nevada by 4.5
The Nevada Wolf Pack return to action on Saturday as they take on the Incarnate Word Cardinals of the FCS.
In their last game, the Wolf Pack rode a ball-hawking defense and solid offensive performance to defeat Texas State, 38-14. The Wolf Pack defense forced four takeaways and converted three of those turnovers into points, cruising to an easy victory over the Bobcats.
The Wolf Pack are taking on an Incarnate Word team that is coming off a victory in their season opener over Southern Illinois. The Cardinals racked up 550 yards on offense in their 64-29 win over the Salukis last Saturday. Incarnate Word is one of the better passing offenses in the FCS and this will pose a challenge for Nevada and its secondary.
Can the Wolf Pack defense stop the passing offense of Incarnate Word on Saturday? Will Nevada settle on a quarterback and find some consistency in the passing game?
Here are my three keys and a prediction for Nevada’s contest against Incarnate Word
THREE Keys to a Nevada victory
Stop the Cardinals passing attack
Incarnate Word had a quarterback named Cameron Ward who was a prolific passer for the Cardinals last season. Ward led the Cardinals to a 10-3 record while throwing for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2021.
Ward left Incarnate Word and transferred to Washington State, but it seems that UIW hasn’t missed a beat at quarterback. In comes Lindsey Scott Jr for the Cardinals and in the opener against Southern Illinois, Scott completed 17 of 25 passes for 391 yards and six touchdowns.
Incarnate Word had two wide receivers rack up 100 yard receiving games in the victory over Southern Illinois. Taylor Grimes had 126 receiving yards and two touchdowns while Dareion Chafin had 106 yards and one touchdown last Saturday against the Salukis. In the game against SIU, the Cardinals offense had nine players record at least one catch. This is an offense in UIW that is very prolific and can get the ball to its playmakers and produce big yards.
The Wolf Pack defense will have its hands full in trying to stop this passing offense. For the Wolf Pack to win, their front four must get pressure on Scott and the ballhawking secondary must contain UIW’s receivers and not let them make the big play.
If Nevada’s defense can do that on Saturday, they have a very good chance to defeat the Cardinals.
Continue to strive for balanced on offense
On Saturday against Texas State, the Wolf Pack offense ran for 134 yards and had four rushing touchdowns. Nevada’s passing stats were not going to remind any Wolf Pack fan of Carson Strong to Romeo Doubs, but it was a little bit better than it was Week 0 against New Mexico State.
Combining the stats of QBs Nate Cox and Shane Illingworth, Nevada did throw for 144 yards, completing 16-of-20 passess at 7.2 yards an attempt. Nevada’s quarterbacks did not throw a touchdown pass but no interceptions were thrown, either.
The important key is that Coach Ken Wilson and offensive coordinator Derek Sage must continue to find balance on offense. We know Nevada wants to run the ball and be physical but in order to keep defenses honest, the passing game must be utilized.
And also, no matter if it is Cox or Illingworth at QB, the passing game must continue to improve this week against Incarnate Word.
On defense, continue to force turnovers while the offense plays mistake free
Another fun stat to say along with Nevada’s 2-0 record is this: The Wolf Pack lead the nation in turnover margin at +9. The reason why is simple, the Wolf Pack offense is playing clean, mistake-free football with the offense not turning the ball over in two games and the defense recording six interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Now I know the skeptics are going to say that Nevada got those turnovers because they played against two of the worst teams in FBS. And my response is those numbers are impressive no matter if you got those numbers against the dregs of college football or against teams like Alabama or Georgia. It is a testament to Nevada doing a great job at forcing turnovers to give their offense a chance to score points. And also it is a testament to Nevada’s offense to protect the ball as to not compromise their defense.
For Nevada to start the season 3-0, they must continue this formula of clean, turnover free football on offense and the defense forcing turnovers to put their offense in a position to score. Incarnate Word is a team with a high flying offense so Nevada’s defense must be sharp on Saturday.
The Wolf Pack are undefeated because of their ball-hawking, turnover creating defense and an offense that is run-oriented and physical. Nevada does need to continue to strive for balance on offense by throwing the ball more. Nevada shouldn’t go back to their Air Raid, throw it 50 times a game on offense but they need to throw the ball to keep defenses honest.
Nevada does need to settle on a quarterback as soon as possible. Shane Illingworth does have the better arm but the offense does move better with Nate Cox at the helm. Cox can throw the ball and also he is a factor in the running game as his big body can be used to get extra yards on short yardage plays.
Nevada is taking on an Incarnate Word team that is a pass heavy unit and will challenge the Wolf Pack secondary. For Nevada to win they must continue to run the ball while continuing to get better in the passing game. Also the defense must corral the Cardinals explosive passing game.
Incarnate Word’s passing game presents a challenge for Nevada’s secondary but it is a challenge that they can handle. I expect the Wolf Pack to come away with the win on the strength of their pass defense and their running game and improving pass offense.
Score: Nevada 31, Incarnate Word 21