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Nevada 17 … at San Jose State 14

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 17, 2011


Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Nevada at San Jose State


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - Nevada at SJSU

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Sept. 17 Nevada 17 … at San Jose State 14
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Mike Ball ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns and Duke Williams intercepted a potential go-ahead pass in the end zone with 1:10 remaining to seal Nevada's 17-14 victory over San Jose State on Saturday.

The Wolf Pack (1-1) looked in control for most of the game before backup quarterback Matt Faulkner entered late in the third quarter to spark the Spartans (0-3).

Faulkner led San Jose State on a touchdown drive that cut Nevada's lead to 17-14 midway through the fourth and drove the Spartans to the 15 in the closing minutes. But on third-and-9, Williams intercepted a pass in the end zone intended for Chandler Jones to thwart the comeback attempt and give the defending Western Athletic Conference champion Wolf Pack the win in the conference opener.

Nevada (0-1) at San Jose State (0-2) Sept. 17, 4:00, GamePlan/ESPN3

Here’s The Deal … It’s easy to look lousy when you start out your season against an angry and motivated Oregon team on the road, but still Nevada’s 69-20 opener wasn’t exactly a positive. The ground game worked and the offense rolled up 516 yards, but mistake after mistake made the game a blowout. The Wolf Pack didn’t bring any defense, but the offense moved the ball and showed that once it got a chance against a lesser team, it would get a chance to be back to the 2010 form.

And that’s what San Jose State is for.

The Spartans also started out the season running into a buzzsaw, dealing with a Stanford team looking to get out of the gate hot, but they came up with a surprisingly nice defensive performance in a ten-point loss to UCLA. On a 12-game losing streak, they could use a win of any sort to finally show some signs of life under head coach Mike MacIntyre, but against a team as strong as Nevada, just being able to come up with a strong game for a second straight week might have to be good enough.

Why Nevada Might Win: The Spartans haven’t done anything against the run so far, and now it has to deal with the Wolf Pack attack that didn’t have any problems against Oregon.

The Spartan defensive front doesn’t have the quickness or the talent to be able to hold up and get a push into the backfield to get to the Pack Pistol offense before it can get started, and if given a little bit of time and a few option, Nevada will come up with the right hole and the right play to rip off big runs in chunks. Spartan safety Duke Ihenacho is a special player and a peerless tackler, but he’s also the team’s leader in stops. There’s a reason for that; the plays have to be made in the second level.

San Jose State has to be perfect to have a shot, and it’s not going to be. It commits too many penalties and has had problems with turnovers, giving it away five times in the first two games. However …

Why San Jose State Might Win: It’s not like Nevada was stingy with the ball in the opener. The Pack had to press a bit against Oregon and gave away three picks to help make the close game a blowout. Against UCLA, the Spartans couldn’t stop the ground game, but they were fine against a middling Bruin passing game that couldn’t push the ball down the field a lick. SJSU will cheat up as much as possible with Ihenacho, and while the defensive front isn’t a brick wall, linebacker Keith Smith is good enough to come up with several big stops.

It might be a reach, but there’s a chance Nevada could be looking ahead to Texas Tech and Boise State, the bigger games on the slate. As great as last year’s Nevada team was, it only came up with a 35-13 win at home against the Spartans, and has won eight of the last nine games in the series. This is supposed to be the breather, and the Pack might play like it.

What To Watch Out For: San Jose State was able to make it a fight against UCLA despite missing its starting quarterback, Matt Faulkner, who was out with a concussion. Dasmen Stewart wasn’t great, running for 47 yards and completing 15-of-31 passes for 111 yards and a pick, and now it’ll be up to Faulkner, as long as he’s fine on game day, to try to get the passing game moving again. He only completed 14-of-26 passes for 184 yards against Stanford, but the 6-2, 210-pound former JUCO transfer has the arm to push the ball deep.

How was Nevada’s offense going to work without Colin Kaepernick running the attack? Tyler Lantrip waited his turn, and he showed he was ready. Lantrip has no chance to replace Kaerpenick as an all-around playmaker, but he’s big, has a great arm, and he can run a little bit. With excellent speed for his size, he’s a great in the open field and should be able to take off and make things happen on his own running for 51 yards against Oregon and throwing for 219 yards.

What Will Happen: The Nevada attack will blow up. San Jose State doesn’t have the offense to keep up the pace even a little bit, and after about three drives, it’ll be panic time, the mistakes will come, and the Pack will open things up even more. Nevada will rumble for over 300 yards on the ground.

CFN Prediction: Nevada 40 … San Jose State 23
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Nevada -6   O/U: 54

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