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Can Nevada Make a Statement Against Wyoming?

Nevada looks to build momentum after Saturday's win against New Mexico.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

If you're a Nevada Wolf Pack fan, there's many things to like about this year's team.

The running game is solid, ranking 20th in the nation with 222.3 yards a game. Both James Butler and Don Jackson have become a perfect two-back system, with each rushing for over 560 yards on the year. They are on pace to each rush for over a 1,000 yards, which would be an amazing accomplishment. Butler broke through New Mexico's defense on Saturday, going for 145 yards and a score, while Jackson rushed for 152 yards in Saturday's win.

Yeah, their running game is not too shabby.

Don Jackson has been a big part of Nevada's offense the last two years. (Courtesy of Lance Iversen/USA Today Sports)

Don Jackson has been a big part of Nevada's offense the last two years. (Courtesy of Lance Iversen/USA Today Sports)

Also, you got to applaud the Wolf Pack's defense the last two weeks. In the loss against UNLV, Nevada held the Rebels to just 134 passing yards. Granted, UNLV had a backup quarterback playing for the most of the game, but still that's an incredible accomplishment. In the win on Saturday against New Mexico, Ian Seau and company held the Lobos to 135 yards a game, which is amazing considering the fact that New Mexico was the 9th ranked rushing game in the country going into Saturday's game.

The Reno Gazette Journal's Chris Murray praised Nevada's defense in his column on October 10th.

"Essentially, Nevada’s defense limited New Mexico to seven points over four quarters. Nevada forced seven punts and two turnovers in 12 New Mexico series. That’s great stuff."

In six games, Nevada has yet to surrender more than 27 points a game, which is pretty darn good in itself. The defense ranks 78th in the nation, but trust me, this team is very good on the defensive side of the football. They'll look to continue that momentum with their game Saturday against Wyoming.

While the Wolf Pack had a lot to celebrate about last weekend, the Cowboys did not. They are 0-6 this year and 0-2 in the Mountain West, including a 31-17 loss last week against Air Force. They are only averaging 19 points a game, and their defense ranks 207th in the nation, giving up almost 34 points per game.

They do have a pretty decent running game, with Brian Hill rushing for 797 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore has had an incredible season for Wyoming, with 4 games where he rushed for 100 yards or more, including a 208 yard performance against Appalachian State on October 3rd.

Brian Hill has been one of the bright spots of Wyoming's offense this year. (Courtesy of Isaiah J. Washington/USA Today Sports)

Brian Hill has been one of the bright spots of Wyoming's offense this year. (Courtesy of Isaiah J. Washington/USA Today Sports)

Everyone, including his coach, believe he is the real deal.

"We believe he can be an excellent running back," UW coach Craig Bohl told the Casper Star-Tribune after the Appalachian State game.

He already is.

Brian Hill's Rushing Stats
Year Games Rushing Attempts Yards Rushing TD's
2014 12 145 796 7
2015 6 123 797 3
18 268 1,593 10

The key to a Nevada victory on Saturday will be to keep Wyoming's offense in check. Not only is Hill a possible threat, but also QB Cameron Coffman, who has thrown for 11 TD's on the season. Coffman had a pretty good game a few weeks ago against New Mexico, for which he threw for 366 yards and 4 touchdowns. He might be the silent assassin that might get Wyoming their first victory.

Despite the fact that Wyoming is 0-6, Nevada coach Brian Polian knows not to underestimate them.

"I have a ton of respect for this team," Polian told Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I’ve told our guys you can’t look at the 0-6. You look at the film and it’s a pretty good football team. The other thing is we’re a .500 football team. We can’t take anything for granted. Every test for us is a battle and that’s what we’re preparing for."

Don't bet against a Wyoming upset here, but Nevada definitely showed last week that they are capable of finishing the season strong. They have a double threat in James Butler and Don Jackson, a quarterback in Tyler Stewart who had a decent game against New Mexico on Saturday where he threw for 2 interceptions and 0 picks. Also watch out for receivers Jerico Richardson and Hasaan Henderson, who have combined for 5 TD's on the year.

In a close one, I'll take Nevada 24-20.

The Wolf Pack's defense will make sure of that.