Match-up: Nevada (Mountain West) Vs. Colorado State (Mountain West)
Spread: CSU (-3.0)
Location: Arizona Stadium, Arizona
When: Tuesday, December 29th, 7:30 PM Eastern
Where to Watch: American Sports Network/Campus Insiders
Brian Polian’s Wolf Pack plateaued in his third year, after improving from 4-8 to 7-6 between his first two years. To put it bluntly, Nevada was just very average and lukewarm this season. They were never really embarrassed; even against power conference teams like Arizona and Texas A&M, they somewhat held their own, never losing by more than 3 possessions. They suffered a few close losses throughout mountain west play, before suffering a tough 31-14 defeat to eventual Mountain West Champion San Diego State. They do boast the 28th best rushing attack in the nation, which is something to build around.
Players to Watch
James Butler AND Don Jackson (RBs) – I couldn’t pick either of them; this dual threat backfield is just insanely balanced. The two rushers combined for 2181 yards on 405 carries, which is 88% of the team’s total rushing yards. They also managed to score 16 combined touchdowns. Butler did averaged more YPC (6.3), but expect both to see a lot of work during this game.
Dameon Barber (DB) – The red shirt freshman has a very bright future ahead of him. Even though he missed 3 games this season, he still managed to intercept 6 balls. He also managed 58 total tackles, which is 4th on the team. Expect the budding star to be all over the field for the 42nd ranked pass defense.
How Nevada Can Win
Colorado State ranks 106th in the nation when it comes to stopping the run… You tell me.
Colorado State Overview
Colorado State was looking to make a statement after losing to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl 45-10 last season. They managed to go 10-3, and Jim McElwain had shown steady improvement throughout his first 3 years. Unfortunately, the Rams slowed down a bit this season. After crushing Savannah State, the Rams lost two straight games to Minnesota and Colorado by 3, which set the tone for the rest of the season. For the most part, they handled their business against weaker Mountain West opponents, but they suffered blowout defeats to Boise State, Utah State, and San Diego State. They just didn’t seem to have what it took to place against top tier competition.
Players to Watch
Rashard Higgins (WR) – Higgins lead the rams with 66 catches and 933 yards this season. The Junior also managed to score 8 touchdowns. He’s coming off of a 1 catch performance after combining for 15 catches in the previous two games, so look for him to attempt to bounce back.
Kevin Davis (LB) – Davis did a little bit of everything for the Rams this season. The Junior lead the team in tackles with 95, and also lead the team with 15 tackles for loss. He also had 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery. His ability to create pressure is a huge reason for Colorado State ranking 20th in pass defense. Look for him to be in on many plays this game.
How Colorado State Can Win
Colorado State has to beat Nevada at it’s own game if they want to win. Nevada ranks 92nd in stopping the run. While Colorado State hasn’t exactly dominated on the ground, they need to take advantage of this. Furthermore, they need to force Nevada to throw the ball. Stack the box, force third and longs, and you have a chance.
Final Score Prediction: Nevada Wins 23-14
Brian Sullivan – @TheMadManSports