After four brutal out-of-conference games, Nevada will begin its Mountain West play on Saturday. It’s not get any easier in Week 5 with a matchup against a nationally ranked Fresno State, but that’s how the season is going for Nevada.
Nevada is 0-4 with the longest losing streak in the nation at 14 games. Fresno State is 4-0 with the second-longest winning streak in the nation at 13 games. Now that the Bulldogs are ranked No. 25 in the nation, the odds of Nevada finishing 0-5 continue to grow.
However, conference play is a whole other ballgame. Nevada has a great chance to wipe the slate clean and start over in the Mountain West. It’s not going to be easy, but there should be more hope going forward this season.
Nevada (0-4) vs. Fresno State (4-0)
Location: Valley Children’s Stadium
Date/Time: Saturday, September 30 at 7:30 pm PST
Betting line: Fresno State by 24.5 points. The over/under is 50.
History: Fresno State owns the record between these two programs, 31-22-1. The last matchup between the two was November 19, 2022, with Fresno State coming out victorious 44-14.
Keys to the Game
- I’ll say it again... Limit the turnovers
Nevada had five fumbles a few weeks ago against Kansas. Nevada gave up another three against Texas State, two of which turned into points for the Bobcats. Ball control needs to be one of the focus points in practice because playing sloppy football against Fresno State is asking for a blowout.
The Bulldogs have tallied four fumbles and six interceptions on the season. They’ve also only given up 10 points in their past two games. This is not the team Nevada wants to mess with in terms of turnovers, so it needs to be cleaned up fast.
2. Get Brendon Lewis and the offense going
Despite putting up 24 last week, Nevada’s offense just can’t get it going. Nevada is only averaging 17 points per game with seven total touchdowns. Only one of those was a passing touchdown, something Lewis hasn’t found a groove for. He led Nevada in rushing last week on 12 attempts for 89 yards but was yet again under the 200-yard passing mark.
This offense is too one-dimensional with the lack of the passing game. The running game is predictable even with talented runners in Lewis, Sean Dollars, and Ashton Hayes. The Wolf Pack is averaging 119.0 yards on the ground, ranking No. 105 in all of college football.
The passing game needs to be implemented more no matter what. Whether receivers can’t get open or Lewis can’t make the passes, Ken Wilson needs to mix things up. Maybe that means giving AJ Bianco the start at QB for a game, even though Lewis has still been solid on the run. You just can’t be one-dimensional, and that’s exactly what Nevada is.
3. Contain the Bulldogs as much as possible
Nevada is ranked 131 in the country in overall defense. The Wolf Pack is allowing 41.3 points per game and over 530 total yards per outing. Between the blowouts and blown leads, this defense’s only strong suit is forcing fumbles and turnovers.
Fresno State ranks 21 in the country in points per game, averaging 38.8 points. The Bulldogs are also averaging 115 rushing yards and 313.8 passing yards per game. This team has knocked down Purdue and shut out ASU, so there’s a clear reason why they’re now ranked in the Top 25. Nevada is once again going to have its hands full, so whether it’s containing the Bulldogs offense or defense, one of them needs to happen.
Nevada’s last win against Fresno State was in 2020. Now that Fresno State is ranked, the chances of Nevada pulling off an upset are slim. Again, conference play can go either way and we’ve seen plenty of upsets in the Mountain West.
Still, Fresno State is heavily favored and it’s more likely they’ll cover. Nevada’s offense has been able to compete (Kansas and Texas State) but it’s far too one dimensional as I said before. I don’t think it’ll be a blowout, and Nevada will shock a lot of people with its performance.
I expect it to be a 39-23 in favor of the Bulldogs. I’m riding on a lot of confidence that Nevada’s run game will be solid. I don’t see the passing game being much better, especially against Fresno State. Expect a lot of Dollars, Hayes, and Lewis rushing for downs. Kicker Brandon Talton will have another busy game, but overall the Wolf Pack will fall short and the losing streak will continue.