The Nevada Wolf Pack head to Logan, Utah to take on the Utah State Aggies on Saturday. The Aggies beat Boise State in Week 7, but since then, Utah State has been slipping, losing 3 of their last 4. Meanwhile, Nevada has won their last 3, and just qualified for a bowl game.
Both teams still have a lot to play for this season. The Aggies are fighting for bowl eligibility, as they have 5 wins with only 2 games remaining. Nevada, although a longshot, still has a chance to win the West Division. A Nevada victory would really put USU in a tough spot heading into the Aggies' final game against BYU.
1. Control the time of possession
Most football fans would agree that time of possession is becoming more and more of a useless stat, but there can still be some use for it.
Utah State excels in playing good defense and protecting the ball on offense. The Wolf Pack will have limited opportunities on offense, meaning the defense will need to stop the Aggies offense to get the ball back. The x-factors in this key will be RBs Don Jackson and James Butler. While it's not a huge difference, USU's run defense is weaker than their pass defense. If the duo can pick up yards on the ground and move the sticks, Nevada's offense should have a good day.
2. Defend the pass, react to the run
Despite losing Chuckie Keeton early in the year, Utah State has actually improved in the passing game since Kent Myers took over. The Aggies are currently ranked 4th in the Mountain West in passing offense, but are a dreadful 10th in the conference in rushing offense. The Wolf Pack's run defense has held up better than their passing defense, so the Pack should load up in the secondary to try and stop the Aggies' air attack. The front seven is strong, so they should be able to stop the run by themselves, even if they do have one less player up front.
3. Stay healthy
While the Wolf Pack may still mathematically be in the race for the West Division, the chances that it actually happens are slim to none. With a bowl already locked up, the Wolf Pack need to be careful that a key player doesn't get injured. At the same time, I don't mean they should sit all their starters. They should play a normal game, but if it begins to get out of hand either way, the guys like Don Jackson, Hasaan Henderson, Rykeem Yates, Ian Seau etc. should make their way to the sideline.
I think Tyler Stewart has taken his game to a new level, and as a team Nevada is playing very well. However, I think Utah State is just an overall better team, and they have something to play for, unlike the Wolf Pack.
Utah State 27, Nevada 20