The big Mountain West game this week features Boise State going on the road to take on Nevada. A Boise State win gets them a share of the conference title, along with Fresno State and San Diego State. More importantly is that the Broncos are returning to the 2010 scene of the crime where Boise State blew a big halftime lead and lose to Nevada, that lose knocked Boise State out of a BCS bowl game.
This time around the teams are different, particularly on the Boise State side. The offense for Boise State is not nearly as explosive as it has been over the past few years, and their defense is elite as they are No. 8 in yards allowed per game.
The Broncos offense is not inept, but they are just not strong. Their running game with D.J. Harper and Jai Ajai have led the game, and have picked up their game over the past few weeks. Nevada will need to slow down both of those players to be successful.
However, stopping the running game may not be as important as stopping the deep passing game. The Wolf Pack have been notoriously bad in the secondary, particularly in the long ball. Nevada fell to South Florida early in the year on a deep pass, and have been picked apart for the most part all season.
Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick is nothing great, but he is good enough to complete the ball downfield. Remember all the back to the season opener against Michigan State, and Southwick challenged and beat the Michigan State secondary.
The most important part of this game will be to see if the Nevada offense can do something against that Boise State defense. Stefphon Jefferson is the key player on the Nevada offense, he is second in the nation in rushing yards and has 20 rushing touchdowns. Boise State's rush defense has shown times of being vulnerable all year.
However, it may all fall onto the shoulders of starting quarterback Cody Fajardo. Fajardo is a dual-threat quarterback -- similar to former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Wile Fajardo is a mobile quarterback, he will likely not rush for well over 100 yards. Nevada needs him to have some sort of combination of 300 total yards of offense. A good split would be for Fajardo to pass for about 240 and rush for 60 yards. That should be just enough to keep the Boise State offense on their toes.
Also, not turning over the ball is key for Nevada. Fajardo can have stretches of games where he coughs up the ball. It sounds simple but if he can hold onto the ball then that should give the edge for Nevada to take this game.
For those who are wondering, Boise State is an eight-point favorite in this game.