The Nevada Wolf Pack are in an all out spiral having lost four straight games one of which was to their biggest rival. Colorado State on the other hand is coming off a 42-30 loss to the Broncos. For Nevada, they must win out to reach a bowl game and for Colorado State a win against the Wolf Pack almost guarantees a bowl berth with lowly New Mexico and Air Force still left on the schedule.
Lets go over a few of the key matchups for Saturday's game that will likely decide the outcome.
Nevada Run Defense vs. Colorado State Pass Defense
This is a battle of which defensive unit can be the best on Saturday. Both units have been pretty awful this year. The Wolf Pack has the nation's 3rd worst run defense and the Rams have the nation's 4th worst pass defense. For Nevada, quarterback Cody Fajardo will need to look to take advantage of a young defensive backfield, which will start three sophomores and a true freshman. A player to watch will be the 6' 5" freshman receiver Hassan Henderson, who last week had the best game of his career with five receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown. For Colorado State sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs will look to take advantage of a weak linebacker group for Nevada. If all goes right for the Rams, Bibbs will have his 4th game of 130+ yards on the ground. It's a battle of Fajardo and Bibbs for who can make the opposing teams defense look worse.
Both teams rely heavily on the past rushers, and this is a battle of the best pass rushers for each team. If you aren't familiar with Barrett, get familiar with him. The Colorado State linebacker/defensive end is an absolute monster who will one day be playing on Sundays. The senior is arguably the best pass rusher in the Mountain West, and could be the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. His stats this year are ridiculous with 50 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Nevada counters with Hekking who has recorded a sack in four straight games. Nevada, as mentioned above has a weak secondary, so Hekking is essential to making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket.
Jared Roberts vs. Brent Zuzo
It's not often you go into a game talking about the kickers being game changers, but we have two of the best in the conference going into the game. Roberts, the Colorado State Kicker, is 12-14 on the year and has not missed a PAT. He is on the midseason Lou Groza Award list. Zuzo is a freshman who beat out the incumbent kicker going into the year, has been perfect so far into his career on field goals going 11 for 11. If the game comes down to a last minute field goal, expect it to go in.
Colorado State 31 Nevada 27