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San Diego State vs. Nevada 2014 Game Preview: What do the Aztecs and Wolf Pack have in store this season?

SDSU will get back not only 2013 leading receiver Ezell Ruffin, but also linebacker Jake Fely, as both teams joust for position for first place in the west division of the Mountain West.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The San Diego State Aztecs' game against the Nevada Wolf Pack this Saturday in Reno, Nevada, may be the deciding game in who wins the West division of the Mountain West Conference.

What better game to decide who may win the West division than a matchup between these two teams, who aren't foreign to theatrical endings when they meet.

Last season, the Aztecs dropped a huge fourth quarter lead, but wound up winning 51-44 in overtime. In 2012, the team was able to rally behind Adam Dingwell, replacing then-quarterback Ryan Katz who broke his ankle in the first quarter, to win 39-38, yet again in overtime.

While the game will not be on ESPN like it was last season (it's on CBS Sports Network), it may end being one of the best games in the MW so far this season, if history holds up.

Here are some story-lines heading into Saturday:

Aztecs get healthy at perfect time

There may not have been better news for the Aztecs all season than when they were able to clear 2013 leading receiver Ezell Ruffin and 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Jake Fely for practice this week. Both are expected to play on Saturday.

Ruffin has not played since breaking his collarbone against North Carolina in Week 2, and the effects have hit senior quarterback Quinn Kaehler especially hard, who has struggled mightily since Ruffin's injury.

Fely, on the other hand, has not played since the beginning of last season when he broke his foot. There may not be a more important game to have Fely than this week, as Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo has been a thorn in the Aztecs' side the last two seasons.

Not only are the Aztecs returning Fely and Ruffin, but their bye last week also gave Kaehler more time to rest his sore throwing shoulder.

What makes Nevada so potent on offense?

There's a reason that the Wolf Pack average 29.9 points per game, and that is the amazing play of Fajardo at the quarterback position.

Fajardo has already rushed for 10 touchdowns this season, only two less than SDSU running back Donnel Pumphrey.

On top of that, he has also thrown for 11 touchdowns, and has a 62.6 completion percentage. Kaehler has thrown for just three touchdowns, and has no rushing touchdowns, although he did miss a game-and-a-half.

While a lot of players have come and gone over the last two marathons that these teams have played against each other, one player has been the anchor for Nevada, and that is Fajardo. With him, the Wolf Pack always has a chance.

Does SDSU's offensive game-plan change with Ruffin?

SDSU has not been with their star receiver since week two, and you have to imagine offensive coordinator Bob Toledo is as giddy as he has been all season.

However, don't expect the Aztecs' offensive strategy to change too much with Ruffin back in the lineup.

Both Kaehler and head coach Rocky Long expressed in their weekly press conference on Tuesday that the team's goal remains the same on offense: run the ball and control the clock.

That strategy will be extremely crucial against a Nevada team that runs a high powered offense that looks to score quick and often. Sometimes the only way to stop the Wolf Pack offense is by keeping them off the field.

Luckily for SDSU they have the MW's leading rusher in Pumphrey, and the return of Ruffin should only widen the gaps he has piled up yardage through all season.

Key Players

When facing a quarterback of the caliber of Fajardo, who likes to scramble, it's important that you tackle well. Unfortunately the Aztecs have had a poor season when it comes to that, so it will be up to Fely who's returning from injury to set an example for a defense that has struggled all year with tackling.

Another key matchup to watch will be Aztec corners Damontae Kazee and J.J. Whittaker versus Nevada receivers Hasaan Henderson and Jerico Richardson. Due to Fajardo's rushing abilities, the SDSU corners may be left out on an island and forced to cover without any safety help because they will be in contain on Fajardo.

SDSU will not rely on Kaehler to set the tone for the offense, but judging from last season's offensive outburst between these teams, he will need to be efficient at the least. Not saying that Kaehler needs to throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, but to keep up with a team like Nevada on offense, you must be able to move your team down field and convert touchdowns -- not just field goals.

Prediction: SDSU 35, Nevada 32