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Nevada Football Week 11 preview and prediction: Boise State Broncos

Can Nevada slow down the undefeated Broncos?

Brigham Young v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

While both programs might be on the opposite side of the spectrum for the 2022 season, we are going to see one of the Mountain West’s better rivalries (in recent memory) this week between the Boise State Broncos and the Nevada Wolf Pack, though the former has gotten the better part of the latter in the 21st century.

Nevada, who’s lost seven straight after winning their first two games, are coming off a bye week. Boise State’s four-game win streak was snapped last week to the BYU Cougars, falling 31-28, but still are unbeaten in conference play (5-0) and are the clear odds-on-favorite to make it out of the West Division after a shaky start to the season.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s preview!

Week 11: Nevada (2-7, 0-5 MWC) vs. Boise State (6-3, 5-0 MWC)

When: Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. PT

Where: Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nev.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Spread: Boise State -21.5

Series History: Boise State leads 30-14

Last Meeting: Nevada won 41-31 (Oct. 2, 2021)

When Boise State is on offense:

Like Nevada, the Broncos will try to wear teams out on the ground — though they have been much more successful than their counterpart.

George Holani has rushed for 730 yards and eight scores on 4.9 yards per carry this season. Backup tailback Ashton Jeanty has totaled 412 yards on 4.8 yards per carry with five scores.

After plenty of quarterback controversy to start the season, Boise State plans to have dual-threat freshman quarterback Taylen Green behind center. He’s been efficient and hasn’t played into many mistakes, completing 68.4 percent of his passes for 1,081 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions, adding 277 rushing yards with five scores in eight games.

The Broncos haven’t been as potent at receiver than in year’s past, but still have two quality receivers in Latrell Caples and Stefan Cobbs. Caples has hauled in 31 catches for 308 yards — both team highs — for three touchdowns, tying a team high. Cobbs has two fewer receiving yards, with 25 catches and two touchdowns.

Nevada’s defense, which has been below average, is buoyed by their secondary in Bentlee Sanders, Tyson Williams and Tyriq Mack, their three-leading tacklers at 62, 52 and 48 tackles, respectively. Sanders, arguably its top playmaker, has four tackles-for-loss, a conference-most five interceptions and three forced fumbles; Williams has 5.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, one interception and two forced fumbles.

Jaden Dedmon and Isaiah Essissima round out its secondary as two of their top corners.

The Wolf Pack front is led by Dom Peterson, who’s in the top-10 in the Mountain West in tackles behind the line of scrimmage with 10.5, in addition to five sacks. Linebacker Drue Watts, who’s recorded 43 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss with three sacks, has emerged as one of their key cogs along the front-six/seven.

When Nevada is on offense:

Head coach Ken Wilson is expected to roll out Shane Illingworth at quarterback for his third consecutive start, and sixth of the season.

He’s coming off arguably his two-best games of the season, where he combined to complete 61.9 percent of his attempts for 404 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. On the year, he’s gone 71-116 (61.2 percent) for 638 yards, a pair of touchdowns to three interceptions.

Toa Taua leads the Pack backfield, having rushed for a team-most 571 rushing yards on 3.7 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns. Devonte Lee, who’s missed the last two games, has totaled 60 carries for 212 yards and five scores. Quarterback Nate Cox, who’s much more mobile than Illingworth, has accounted for the other three rushing touchdowns.

Taua is also second on the team in receptions, having 29 catches for 295 yards with one touchdown. BJ Casteel leads the team with 33 receptions for 397 yards and two touchdowns.

Dalevon Campbell, who’s coming off a career game, where he had eight catches for 79 yards, is second among Pack wideouts in receptions (26) and yards (247) yards; Jamaal Bell has 25 catches for 254 yards.

The oft-struggling Nevada offense will be up against arguably the top defense in the Mountain West this season. Boise State leads the conference in opponents’ yards per game, yards per play, first downs per game and third-down conversion rate.

The Broncos have three different players who have recorded at least four sacks, led by Ezekial Noa and Demetri Washington, who have 4.5 apiece.

They also have multiple playmakers on the defensive end, spearheaded by its two leading tacklers D.J. Schramm and veteran defensive back JL Skinner. Schramm has 17 more tackles (67) than Skinner, who has 50, but has two interceptions — tied for the team lead.

Noa, George Tarlas, Divine Obichere, Demetri Washington, Schramm and Tyreque Jones have all logged at least four tackles for loss, too.

In short, they have a ton of playmakers.


With a dual-threat quarterback plus two capable tailbacks in Holani and Jeanty, the No. 1 key for the Wolf Pack will be stopping the run. Their run defense has been inconsistent to begin the season, but surrendered less than a yard per attempt against San Jose State — who have one of the worst ground games in the Mountain West — in its most recent matchup two weeks ago. Boise State is third in the conference in rushing and third in yards per carry, so it’s going to be a much steeper mountain to climb. Nevada’s offense isn’t good enough to put up points against Boise, so Nevada’s defense getting off the field — force more turnovers? — will be paramount. Boise State 34, Nevada 10 (Record: 6-3, ATS: 3-6)