When: Saturday Sept. 14, 2013 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Tallahassee, Fla.
Record: Nevada (1-1) @ Florida State (1-0)
Facing their second tough road test of the season, the Wolf Pack head to Doak Campbell Stadium to take on the #10 team in the nation, the Florida State Seminoles. Nevada is coming off an unimpressive victory over FCS opponent UC Davis, while the Seminoles are coming off a bye week, though they won convincingly the week before at Pitt. This game will be the home opener for Florida State.
Three Keys to the Game
Getting Pressure on Jameis Winston:
When a quarterback goes 25 for 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns in his first collegiate football game, you nod your head in approval and marvel at how truly impressive that is. That was the line for Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. For Nevada, who already has a weak secondary, completions could come rather easily for Winston, so the best bet is for Nevada's defensive line to make Winston uncomfortable in the pocket. Defensive end Brock Hekking has the most talent to get to Winston, and Winston is apparently a big fan of Hekking's mullet. So far this year Hekking has yet to record a sack, which is a main reason why Nevada has struggled in the pass rush. That needs to change against Florida State.
Cody Fajardo Health
The rumblings around the program make it seem as though Cody Fajardo is very unlikely to play in the game. If this is the case, junior back up quarterback Devin Combs will get the start. Combs has been successful when backing up Fajardo, leading the team to victory last year in the second half against Wyoming and starting against UNLV. His career numbers, 431 yards passing with four touchdowns and an interception with 209 yards and a touchdown on the ground, show that he is a capable backup, but is no where near explosive as Fajardo. Look for Nevada to keep the ball on the ground to offset the injury at quarterback.
Special Teams/Trick Play
To win the game Nevada will need some explosive plays. Yes that could happen with a pick six or a long run, but momentum wise a special teams or trick play would do wonders. Kendall Brock has been unimpressive thus far in the return game so hopefully he can break a big return against the Seminoles. Coach Brian Polian has shown the willingness to call a trick play in a big spot (first half versus UCLA), but execution was an issue (false start).
Nevada is going to be overmatched in every aspect of the game. If Fajardo is out, which I suspect he will be, there is almost a zero percent chance Nevada pulls the upset on the road. Look for Winston to have a huge game, close to 300 yards and 5 touchdowns, and get pulled out in the third quarter to avoid injury. Thus, I predict:
Florida State 52, Nevada 17