The Nevada Wolf Pack are currently in a two-game slide after failing to overcome big deficits against Boise State and Colorado State. This next game is not getting all that easier as the Wolf Pack travel to face the BYU Cougars. Despite BYU having multiple injuries they are still a 12-point favorite.
For those living under a rock, BYU is without starting quarterback Taysom Hill who fractured his leg in the Cougars loss to Utah State two weeks ago, and Christian Stewart is now under center. Stewart struggled to get going in the second half against Utah State and on a short week was inconsistent against Central Florida. With another week of practice under his belt, Stewart will have chances to have success against the Nevada secondary that is one of the worst in the country in allowing 306 passing yards per game.
However, BYU is also hurt at the running back position as Adam Hine is reportedly out with an ankle injury, and starting running back Jamaal Williams's status is up in the air with an ankle injury of his own. Williams is a huge part of BYU's offense and if he can't go then BYU is down to Paul Lasike and he split time with HIne, but he is mostly known for being an All-American rugby player for BYU.
Having a backup quarterback and possibly missing the top two running backs is a big deal and will hurt the BYU offense. BYU does have a huge offensive line that can protect Stewart and opening running lanes for whatever running back has the ball. The Nevada defensive line needs to make plays against this line and get to Stewart, and that responsibility goes to Brock Hekking and Ian Seau as they are the two best defenders in the front seven for the Wolf Pack. Force Stewart to throw quickly and move him out the pocket, and he is no where near as mobile as Hill.
On the other side of the ball, Nevada has chances to take advantage of a banged up BYU secondary and also a few true freshman who are seeing time at linebacker. The Cougars are down starters Jordan Johnson (broken forearm) and Dallin Leavitt (ankle) and that is an area that quarterback Cody Fajardo can take advantage of. Also, BYU with playing young players at linebacker there is a chance for the mobile Fajardo to have one of his better games on the ground.
There are opportunities for Nevada to win this game with the injuries to BYU, but Nevada has its own weakness in the secondary and the tendency for the offense to stall throughout games.
Even with the injuries to BYU, they have a talented group of wide receivers with Jordan Leslie, but he too has an ankle injury, tight end Devin Mahina has become a favorite target for Stewart and then there is the 6-foot-6 Mitch Mathews.
At the very worst Nevada will cover the 12-point line and they realistically have a good chance to win this game. The deciding factor will be who is available for BYU in the running game, because if they have Williams on the field then the edge swings back to BYU.
My prediction on this game is that Nevada ends its two-game losing streak to beat BYU 24-21.