Boise State Broncos vs. Nevada Wolf Pack: Game Preview

Tyler Lantrip #16 of the Nevada Wolf Pack is brought down by a trio of Boise State defenders in Bronco Stadium on October 1, 2011. - Otto Kitsinger III

The Broncos will host the Wolf Pack in Boise, Idaho in what promises to be a tough, exciting game between two intermountain rivals

WEEK 8: Boise State Broncos vs. Nevada Wolf Pack

WHEN: Saturday, October 19, 6:00 PM MT

WHERE: Bronco Stadium, Boise, ID (37,000)

CONFERENCES: MWC (Boise State: Mountain Division; Nevada, West Division)

2013 SEASON: Boise State, 4-2,2-1 MWC; Nevada, 3-3, 2-1 MWC

COACHES: Boise State head coach Chris Petersen (88-10); Nevada head coach Brian Polian (3-3, first year)

TV: CBS Sports Network

WEB STREAMING: GameTracker

RADIO: Wolf Pack Radio Network (94.5 FM/630 AM) in Reno---KBOI (670 AM) and KKGL (96.9 FM) in the Boise area.

SERIES RECORD: 39th meeting. Boise State is 26-13 against Nevada

LAST MEETING: 2012, in Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV, Boise State 27, Nevada 21

WEB SITES: Boise State official | Nevada official

The Nevada Wolf Pack will be coming off a bye week when they go up to Boise to take on the Broncos in a nationally televised game on Saturday. The Broncos are at home for the contest after returning from Logan, Utah with a win last week over the Utah State Aggies.

This game could easily come down to a battle of fairly matched quarterbacks. Nevada QB Cody Fajardo, 6-2, 215 lbs, is coming off the top two passing games in his career against Air Force and San Diego State. He chalked up 782 passing yards and five touchdowns, and ran for 138 yards on 28 carries in those two games. Add that to the fact that he is one of only four quarterbacks nationally who has not thrown an interception this year. His 158 attempts with a 68.4 % completion percentage gives him a rating of 146.0 making him one of the top QB’s in the league. If he has any negatives it is with his bad right knee and the fact he fumbled the ball twice in the San Diego State game.

Ranked just ahead of him with a quarterback rating of 149.9 is Boise State’s Joe Southwick, 6-1, 202 lbs. In his last two games against Southern Miss and Utah State, he was 49 of 67 attempts for 603 yards, 5 TD’s and 2 picks. Another negative besides the two interceptions in those games is that he ran 6 times for minus-20 yards.

What to expect when Nevada has the ball: With Cody Fajardo under center there will be plenty of fireworks coming out of the pistol offense. Two of his standout receivers are Brandon Wimberly, 6-3, 225 lbs, and Richy Turner, 5-11, 180 lbs. Wimberley has caught a pass in 45 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation. Boise State’s defense gave up 221 yards through the air to Utah State’s unranked quarterbacks last week so don’t think that didn’t go unnoticed by Nevada’s offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. He knows that Boise State can provide the platform for Fajardo and Company to air it out.

He also has another loaded chamber in the pistol with RB Kendall Brock, 5-9, 195 lbs, in the backfield for dump off situations. But Brock has a number of improving Broncos defensive backs and linebackers to get past. One of those is freshman LB Ben Weaver, 6-0, 233 lbs. He has notched over 8 tackles per game with 49 total, and 29 of those have been solo. Further back in the Boise State secondary is CB Bryan Douglas, 5-9, 178 lbs, and who is 25th in the nation in passes defended.

What to expect when Boise State has the ball: Broncos offensive coach Robert Prince will certainly seek to take advantage of a Wolf Pack defense that is ranked 117th nationally in total defense. In their last game with San Diego the Pack gave up 541 yards, and it was split about equally between rushing and passing. With Boise State RB Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 215 lbs, still carrying the backfield and no one else really stepping up, expect to see Southwick go to the air for early yardage and try for quick scores. Two of those guaranteed targets that the Nevada defense will be aware of are WR’s Matt Miller, 6-3, 218 lbs, and sophomore star Shane Williams-Rhodes, 5-6, 158 lbs. Last week Williams-Rhodes caught 13 passes for 150 yards, averaging 11.5 yards a catch, and rushed once for 12 more.

If the Boise State offense can put up a lead on the board in the first half, the second half will belong to the run. Prince will try and get some legs under a lackluster backfield. With the exception of Ajayi, RB’s Jack Fields, 5-9, 198 lbs, and Derrick Thomas, 6-0, 207 lbs, have yet to make a statement. It won’t get any easier for them this week with Nevada defenders like star DE Brock Hekking, 6-4, 255 lbs, and LB Jonathan McNeal, 6-1, 235 lbs, all up in their grill and just making life hard in general. So far on the season Hekking has 29 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles while McNeal has 38 tackles with 26 being solo. So it’s not like the Wolf Pack defense will be lining up as the Broncos' punching bags.

The Wolf Pack always plays Boise State tough. It usually ends up a slugfest and leaves the victor glad to be getting off the field with a win. But the truth is Nevada has not won in Boise since 1997. That might be why the bookies in Vegas have the Broncos the 21 ½ point favorite.

For more on this great matchup see yesterday's excellent article by NevadaPack by clicking here.

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