After an ugly game in San Diego last week, Nevada is back in the win column and ready to get another. The Wolf Pack are back home this week to host New Mexico on homecoming night.
The Lobos are coming off a 42-21 victory over Hawaii, so both teams will be looking to create a winning streak Saturday night.
New Mexico (3-4) (1-2) @ Nevada (1-6) (1-2)
Location: Mackay Stadium
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast: CBS Sports
Betting Line: Nevada by 1 point. The over/under is 49.5.
Keys to the Game
- Wake up the passing game
The passing game for Nevada hasn’t been a strong suit all season. Averaging 188 passing yards per game with only four touchdowns isn’t pretty, but the running game has been able to somewhat hold it down for Nevada.
That’s going to change heavily this weekend. Running back Ashton Hayes was shut down for the season a few weeks ago. Now, starting running back Sean Dollars is currently in concussion protocol according to Chris Murray of Nevada Sports Net. It appears unlikely Dollars will play against the Lobos, putting a huge dent in the run game.
Quarterback Brendon Lewis is leading the Wolf Pack in rushing yards with 351. Despite that, being down your top two running backs means the passing game has to open up.
Only one receiver for Nevada (Jamaal Bell) has gone over 100 receiving yards on the season. Perhaps we see more of backup QB A.J. Bianco to open up the passing game. Either way, Lewis or Bianco are going to need to sling it downfield more.
2. Make the Lobos scared of the offense
New Mexico hasn’t done well against the passing game and has given up plenty of big plays because of it.
Despite the Lobos win last week, the game before wasn’t pretty. They lost to San Jose State 52-24, and in the second half alone gave up two touchdowns for over 50 yards.
Even in the win against Hawaii, New Mexico allowed 345 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Lobos are giving up an average of 256 passing yards per game to their opponents.
For a Nevada team that’s struggling in that category, it’s yet again a new key factor of the Wolf Pack want the win. It’s the perfect chance to open up that playbook and attack the biggest weakness for New Mexico.
3. Keep the momentum on Nevada’s side
Both Nevada and New Mexico haven’t had great seasons so far. Both programs are coming off huge victories in which plenty of momentum and confidence are on both sides. The Lobos came out scoring early against Hawaii, and that hungry energy is going to pour into this game.
Even for Nevada’s ugly win against San Diego State, breaking the longest losing streak in the nation shoots confidence through the roof. The Wolf Pack haven’t done well at keeping up, and it’ll be especially vital if the Lobos come out firing.
Nevada also hasn’t recorded a home win so far, and getting its first on homecoming week would be icing on the cake. Use that confidence and built-up momentum to create a winning streak.
This game scares me a bit with the injuries in the running back room. I’m hoping Ken Wilson can get the passing game going strong, especially when it’s a weakness to New Mexico. I also don’t see it being a high-scoring game, but it’ll be a close one.
I’m going with a 20-17 victory for Nevada. Again, the offense worries me, but I’m interested to see how different the offense will operate if Dollars doesn’t play. But Nevada is favored for the first time this season, so there’s gotta be some hope there.
For my fellow Wolf Pack students, have a great homecoming game and let’s get out of there with a dub.