If Nevada wants any hope of winning its first game, it starts this week against San Diego State. On paper, it gets easier for the Wolf Pack, as their final six games of the season include teams under .500 (except for Wyoming.) While Nevada is 0-6, it’s the perfect time to find a stride.
The Aztecs shouldn’t be taken lightly, however. That 3-4 record doesn’t tell the full story, and the Wolf Pack will need to be a complete team if they want any chance of picking up their first win.
Nevada (0-6) (0-2) @ San Diego State (3-4) (1-2)
Location: Snapdragon Stadium
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 21 at 6:00 p.m. PST
Betting line: San Diego State by 13.5 points. The over/under is 47.5.
History: This will be the 16th time these programs have met. The Aztecs own the series so far with a 9-6 record. They also won the most recent matchup, winning 23-7 in Reno last season. The Aztecs also won in 2021, so they ride a two-game winning streak against Nevada heading into this matchup.
Keys to the Game
- Play a complete four-quarters of football
Nevada produced its best offensive performance against UNLV last week, scoring a season-high 27 points. The defense was nowhere to be found, however, and it resulted in the Rebels putting up 45 points.
The defense has shown up throughout the season, such as the matchup against Fresno State. In that game, Nevada’s offense was nonexistent.
The pattern here is it’s either one or the other for the Wolf Pack. Both sides of the ball haven’t clicked at the same time all season and that is one of the major reasons why Nevada owns a 0-6 record. The defense has to get stops early, and the offense needs to respond quickly and score early.
2. Watch out for the run game
Aztecs quarterback Jaylen Mayden has thrown 1,285 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions. It doesn’t look great, but he can do major damage with his legs. He leads the team in rushing yards with 348 yards on 73 carries and three touchdowns.
Running back Jaylon Armstead is next closest with 257 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Running back Kenan Christon has 234 rushing yards as well.
The rush game is the point of attack, even for the quarterback. Nevada will need to keep the box tight and watch for the scramble to prevent big yardage. Holding it on third down is something Nevada has struggled with, especially against UNLV by allowing 11 of its 18 third-down attempts to convert. With such a rushing threat in San Diego State, Nevada will need to keep its eye on it.
3. Don’t take the Aztecs for granted
Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke doesn’t want his team to take Nevada for granted despite the record. Ken Wilson needs to have the same attitude for his team. Sure, the 3-4 record isn’t anything crazy for the Aztecs, but they’re much better than the record says.
Three out of the Aztecs' four losses have come against nationally ranked teams. They also only lost to Boise State by three points, and need three more wins to become bowl-eligible. The Aztecs' 41-34 win over Hawaii was a huge step in the right direction, and all the momentum is on their side.
As I said before, the Wolf Pack’s remaining six games are much more favorable on paper, minus Wyoming. Again, on paper is far different than actual play and momentum. Nevada needs to play close to perfection to have a shot and end the losing streak.
San Diego State has all the momentum on its side. If Nevada can bring last week's offense into this game, there will be a chance. As mentioned before, the Wolf Pack will need to play complete football to even have a chance, and it’s something they haven’t been able to do in their first six games.
I’m going with a 38-21 victory for the Aztecs. I do think Nevada’s offense will keep up to start, but the matchup against the Aztecs’ running game is scary. Hate to ruin your moods, Wolf Pack fans, but the longest active losing streak in the nation is probably going to continue.
Anything can happen, however, especially in the Mountain West. At least it’s not the San Diego States basketball team, so there’s plenty of hope.