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at Texas Tech 35 … Nevada 34

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 24, 2011


Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Nevada at Texas Tech


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 4 - Nevada at Texas Tech

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Sept. 24 at Texas Tech 35 … Nevada 34
CFN Analysis: Just when it seemed like everything was clicking, with a nearly perfect game against New Mexico, it took a furious rally to get by a struggling Nevada. On the plus side, Seth Doege showed he could come through in the clutch and proved he could be the type of leader who can bring the team back from the brink. He only threw for 222 yards, though, and while Eric Stephens ran well and the passing game was fine, this was still too close for comfort. D.J. Johnson came up with 13 tackles, 11 solo, but the entire defense has to be far better against the run over the next few weeks with Kansas and Texas A&M to kick off Big 12 play.

Nevada had it. The Wolf Pack pass defense played well, the offense run fine, and after the way-too-close call against San Jose State, the win was there for the taking on the road against Texas Tech before going off to Boise. Instead, the defense couldn’t come up with a fourth down stop in the final moments after the offense failed to put the game away in the second half. It wasn’t just the typical ground game for the Pack, with Rishard Matthews catching five passes for 107 yards and a score, but QB Cody Fajardo was great, running for 139 yards and two scores, and Mike Ball tore off 139 yards, too. Against Boise State, preventing the big play will be most important, and after coming so close against the Red Raiders, the defense might be able to do that.

(AP) LUBBOCK, Texas -- Seth Doege scrambled, looked right and found a wide open Eric Ward with 44 seconds left to rally the Red Raiders to a 35-34 win over Nevada on Saturday night.

Ward caught Doege's third TD pass of the night as the Red Raiders (3-0) came back from a 28-14 deficit midway through the third quarter.

The winning score happened on a fourth-and-three.

He threw touchdowns of 4, 8 and 2 yards en route to completing 26 of 38 passes for 222 yards.

The Red Raiders struggled on defense, giving up 562 total yards and Nevada (1-2) capitalized.

Redshirt freshman Cody Fajardo threw two touchdowns passes and ran for a 56-yarder for Nevada. He finished with 139 yards on 10 carries.

Fajardo also ran for a 6-yard touchdown and threw a 16-yard TD pass to Kolby Arendse. Mike Ball compiled 139 yards on 27 carries.

Doege looked stymied as he took the snap on the final score of the game. He back-peddled to about the 17 yard line as he scanned for an open receiver in the end zone. No one in the middle. No one on the right. He looked left and saw Ward, lofting it to him in the back corner for the winning score.

Fajardo and Tyler Lantrip shared quarterback duties for the Wolf Pack, but it was Fajardo who provided the spark. He put them up 28-14 when he faked a handoff to Ball and scampered along the right sideline to score.

Doege found Jace Amaro for an 8-yard score to pull the Red Raiders within 28-21. Two field goals by Nevada gave the Wolf Pack a 34-28 lead before Doege led Texas Tech down the field for the winning score.

Texas Tech was without its leading receiver, Darrin Moore, for most of the game. Moore left early in the first quarter after he injured his left ankle and knee on a deep incompletion. Isaiah Frey hit Moore as he tried to catch a pass. Moore, ranked No. 2 nationally in receptions per game (11) has caught 21 passes for 339 yards. He had no catches Saturday night.

The Wolf Pack went up 14-7 near the end of the first half quarter when redshirt freshman quarterback Cody found a wide open Kolby Arendse on the right side of the field for a 16-yard touchdown pass. On the first play of the drive, Fajardo turned a broken play into a 34-yard gain. Three plays later, he found Arendse open in the middle of the field and he turned it into a 27-yard play.

Fajardo replaced starter Lantrip midway through the second quarter and led the Wolf Pack on an 83-yard scoring drive, keeping the ball on the ground for all but one play. Fajardo scored untouched on a 2-yard run around the left side for to tie it at 7-7.

Nevada held Texas Tech scoreless in the first quarter, which was a first this season for the Red Raiders. The Wolf Pack found success on the ground early while simultaneously eating clock and keeping the Red Raiders off the field. Their first scoring chance came at the end of a 14-play drive, but Anthony Martinez's 31-yard field goal missed when he hit the right upright.

Nevada (1-1) at Texas Tech (2-0) Sept. 24, 7:00, FCS

Here’s The Deal … This seems like it should be an interesting shootout between two high-octane offenses, but this isn’t 2010.

Texas Tech is holding up its end of the bargain with the nation’s No. 3 offense and No. 2 scoring attack, hanging 50 on the board against Texas State and 59 in a record-setting day against New Mexico, but Nevada is sputtering. The Wolf Pack ground game is rolling along as usual, but after getting blown up by Oregon in an ugly 69-20 opener, it took way too much work to get by a mediocre San Jose State.

This is the second time the two teams have faced each other, with Texas Tech winning 35-19 in 2008, and now it’s time for each team to try to kickstart its season with a big win. Nevada goes to Boise State next week and needs to show it can be back to business as usual for the offense that was so explosive and so amazing over the last few seasons, while this is the last tune-up for the Red Raiders before kicking off Big 12 action against Kansas.

Why Nevada Might Win: Texas Tech hasn’t done much to stop the run over the last few years, and it started out the season cold. The pass rush and the aggressiveness up front is far better with the coaching staff dialing things up a few notches, but Texas State was able to run for 256 yards and New Mexico wasn’t miserable last week running for 109 yards before having to start throwing. Nevada doesn’t seem to have the timing of the Pistol down quite yet, but against Oregon the Pack was able to use several different players to crank out yards in chunks and hold on to the ball for over 38 minutes. Against San Jose State, the Pack had the ball for close to 36 minutes.

Time of possession has never meant much to Texas Tech, but in this case, Nevada has to keep the defense off the field as much as possible and it starts with keeping control with the ground game. With end Leon Mackey out with a lung injury and with Scott Smith still suspended, the Tech line is struggling.

Why Texas Tech Might Win: As always, the Nevada pass defense is a problem.

The Wolf Pack Achilles heel always seems to be a secondary that gives up yards in chunks, but this year, unlike past seasons, the pass rush isn’t there to do something, anything, to help the cause. When San Jose State is able to throw the ball without a problem, there’s an issue. Texas Tech’s passing game is working at an ultra-efficient level and should be able to pick apart the Pack secondary without breathing hard. The O line is providing the time needed for the air show to work, and unless Nevada invents a pass rush in a hurry, there won’t be any pressure in the backfield this week, either.

But Texas Tech isn’t just the passing game. The running game is working better than it has in years, with Eric Stephens averaging 105 yards per game and cranking out yards in chunks. Tech can be varied, balanced, and can throw several different things at Nevada, but Nevada can’t bomb away to keep up in a shootout if the running game isn’t perfect.

What To Watch Out For: No quarterback in the history of college football had a more effective day than Texas Tech’s Seth Doege had against New Mexico. The junior completed 40-of-44 passes, over 90%, for 401 yards and five touchdowns, and has started out the season as hot as any quarterback in Texas Tech’s great history completing 82% for727 yards and eight touchdowns without a pick, and now he should put up even stronger numbers against the poor Nevada secondary. Injured in high school, this is the first regular work he’s seen in five years, but he’s not looking the slightest bit rusty.

Now out of the doghouse after violating team rules last year and only seeing 38 carries of work, Nevada’s Mike Ball is the team’s new rushing star. With a compact body and a quick, scooting running style, he’s a great fit for the offense, and like all the Wolf Pack runners, he was phenomenally productive in high school with track star speed. He ran for 99 yards on 14 carries against Oregon and came up with 124 yards against San Jose State, and he’ll be the workhorse this week getting the ball at least 25 times.

What Will Happen: Nevada’s offense is better than it showed last week against San Jose State, and it’ll work well this week, but Doege will throw for 400 yards again and will dink and dunk the Wolf Pack to death. It’ll be yet another great day for Doege, and while he won’t hit 90% of his throws, he won’t be too far off.

CFN Prediction: Texas Tech 45 … Nevada 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Texas Tech -21  O/U: 65.5

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