After the ugly 0-6 start to the season, Nevada is finding its stride. Winners of two in a row and has matched its win total from all of last season. The Wolf Pack have a great opportunity to pick up their third win against a struggling Hawaii team.
The Wolf Pack are coming off a 34-24 victory over New Mexico at home. Meanwhile, the Rainbow Warriors were shutout on home turf, losing to San Jose State 35-0. Hawaii is the only team in the Mountain West without a conference win.
Hawaii (2-7) (0-4) @ Nevada (2-6) (2-2)
Location: Mackay Stadium
Date/Time: Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast: Spectrum Sports/ Nevada Sports Net
Betting Line: Nevada by 3.5 points. The over/under is 50.5.
History: Nevada currently leads the series 15-12, dating back to 1920. As of late, Hawaii has had more success, winners of three of the last four matchups. The Rainbow Warriors won last year’s matchup 31-16 in Honolulu.
Keys to the Game
- Take advantage of Hawaii’s funk
Hawaii hasn’t won a game since September 23. The Rainbow Warriors are on a four-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 162-75. Coming off that shutout loss to the Spartans, there isn’t much momentum in that Hawaii locker room.
For a Nevada defense that has been hot as of late, this is the perfect game to continue that. In Hawaii’s four-game losing streak, quarterback Brayden Schager has thrown six interceptions. Nevada’s secondary is coming off a three-interception game against New Mexico, including a pick-six.
There isn’t much rhythm for Hawaii right now, and facing a Nevada team that turned a corner isn’t promising. There are bound to be plenty of mistakes by the Rainbow Warriors, it’s whether the Wolf Pack can capitalize on them.
2. Keep that run game going strong
The passing game is still something that’s a work in progress for Nevada. But, the running game has been a key in the past two victories.
Wide receiver Jamaal Bell started as a running back last week, rushing for 76 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Bell is averaging 6.9 yards per carry on the season so far. The rest of Nevada’s traditional running back room is only averaging 3.0 yards per carry.
Sean Dollars is set to return after sitting out from a concussion, but there’s no reason to stop giving Bell the ball in the backfield.
Quarterback Brendon Lewis is Nevada’s rushing leader, and his carries should continue heading into this one. There was some concern he wouldn’t play this week after tweaking his ankle against New Mexico, but Lewis will be suited up and starting this Saturday.
3. Surpass last year’s win total
Ken Wilson hasn’t had great success as Nevada’s head coach. He’s 4-16 with Nevada dating back to last season, but this year will likely be an improvement.
Nevada only won two games last season, the same number of games Nevada has won so far this year. A win against Hawaii surpasses last year’s win total and gives Nevada’s coaching staff some room to breathe.
This week’s game is also the best chance on paper for Nevada to pick up a win. After this, it’s Utah State, Colorado State, and Wyoming. Nevada last beat Hawaii in 2021, so getting back in the win column against the Rainbow Warriors is just as important.
It’s great to see how Nevada flipped a switch. There’s a lot of season left, but Wolf Pack fans should feel very confident this week.
I’m going with a 35-24 win over Hawaii. I wouldn’t doubt Nevada’s defense picking up a score of its own, and a healthy run game should get the job done. It’s going to be a comfortable afternoon out in Reno this Saturday, so head over to Mackay Stadium and let’s get three wins in a row.