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Nevada Football: Keys for the Wolf Pack to defeat the Aztecs

The Nevada Wolf Pack return home to face the San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday. Here are the keys the Wolf Pack need to follow in order to pull off the upset.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

In order for the Nevada Wolf Pack to become bowl eligible, they must win their final three games of the season. One of those teams Nevada must defeat in order to achieve that goal is the San Diego State Aztecs who just clinched the Mountain West Western division and are the defending conference champions. San Diego State also has a Heisman trophy candidate in Donnel Pumphrey that the Wolf Pack must try to contain.

Here are the keys to victory that Nevada must follow in order to keep their bowl hopes alive:

1.Stop Donnel Pumphrey (or at least try to slow him down)

-The understatement of the year I know but it must be done.  Pumphrey is one of the best running backs in the nation as he is leading the nation in rushing yards at 1,581 yards and should be at least heading to New York as a Heisman finalist. As a team the Aztecs on average rush for close to 273 yards a game which places them fourth in the nation in that category. The Wolf Pack defense has struggled stopping the run this season (third to last in the MW in rushing defense) but they must stop the Aztecs greatest strength to pull off the upset in Reno.

2. Ty Gangi must make big plays in the passing game.

-Gangi put up some solid numbers in the loss to New Mexico last Saturday (19 for 34, 301 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions) but what cost the Wolf Pack the win was the two interceptions that Gangi threw. Gangi is going to need to play close to a perfect game against an Aztec defense that is the best in the Mountain West and one of the best in the nation (fourth in the nation in total defense). Despite the talent on the San Diego State defense, Gangi must find big plays against them and limit any mistakes for Nevada to win.

3. James Butler must out duel Pumphrey in the running game.

-The Mountain West has quite a few talented running backs outside of Pumphrey (Brian Hill, Jeremy McNichols, and Teriyon Gipson to name a few) but James Butler is one of the best backs in this conference and he is invaluable to the Wolf Pack offense. He is going to need to have an outstanding performance and outduel Pumphrey for Nevada to get the win. The Aztecs defense will not make that task easy but despite the long odds, Butler is going to have to find some cracks in the SDSU defense and take advantage of them for the Wolf Pack to win on Saturday.