2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11 - WAC Previews
WAC Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 12 Hawaii at Nevada
(AP) RENO, Nev. -- Cody Fajardo threw for three touchdowns and ran for a score as Nevada beat Hawaii 42-28 on Saturday night.
Fajardo threw two touchdowns to Rishard Matthews, who had 118 yards in catches to give him five 100-yard games this season. The Wolf Pack (6-3, 4-0 WAC) had 531 yards of offense.
For Hawaii (5-5, 3-3), Shane Austin replaced Bryan Moniz, the WAC's leading passer and preseason conference player of the year, who suffered a right leg injury with 6:50 left in the first quarter and did not return.
Austin completed 17 of 38 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown, but had three interceptions.
The Warriors were within seven points of Nevada after a Jeremiah Ostrowski 21-yard touchdown catch with 11 minutes left in the game, but got no closer.
Lampford Mark had 105 rushing yards and a touchdown for Nevada.
Hawaii (5-4) at Nevada (5-3) Nov. 12, 10:15 ESPNU
Here’s The Deal … Louisiana Tech is red hot and still has its chance against Nevada, but this might be for the WAC title, or it’ll at least get Hawaii back in the chase. The Wolf Pack has won four straight games and has been red hot, scoring 45 points or more in each of the last three games with the offense kicking everything into high gear at just the right time. With three home games in the final four, and with the road trip at Utah State a winnable battle, going 9-3 and keeping a ten-win season alive is an attainable goal before taking off for the Mountain West.
Hawaii has been hit-or-miss this year, with the offense rolling against good teams like Louisiana Tech and falling inexplicably flat at times against teams like Idaho. Just when it seemed like the team was going to get rolling, it lost to Utah State 35-31 in a good home battle leaving little margin for error. The WAC title might be a bit of a dream, but getting an extra home date in the Hawaii Bowl is the goal, needing to win two of the final four games. This is the last road game of the year, and if the Warriors win, they should be able to use it to roll through the final three games against Fresno State, Tulane, and BYU to keep dreams of a ten-win season alive.
Why Hawaii Might Win: The Nevada pass defense has been better than in past years, but that’s partly because it hasn’t played too many teams that can throw. It held Boise State down, allowing 160 yards and two touchdowns, and it allowed just eight passing yards against UNLV, but it got torn up in the opener by Oregon for 331 yards and six passing touchdowns, and over the last two weeks the secondary has had a nightmare of a time allowing 315 yards and three touchdowns to Fresno State and 466 yards and three scores against New Mexico State. Hawaii’s passing game hasn’t been overdue for a huge game, and it’s been hit-or-miss, but it should be able to roll for 300 yards if the Wolf Pack can’t generate consistent pressure. That shouldn’t be a problem, though, because …
Why Nevada Might Win: The Hawaii offensive line has been a disaster. It’s not doing anything for the run and the tackles are getting Bryant Moniz killed. Utah State only came up with three sacks, but Idaho rolled up six sacks and teed off into the backfield. The Wolf Pack pass rush is coming off its best game of the year coming up with five sacks against NMSU. Nevada is eighth in the nation in time of possession, holding on to the ball for 33:38 per game, and while Hawaii is also great at holding on to the ball, the Pack is better. The Hawaii run defense has been excellent, but it hasn’t faced a ground game that can do the things Nevada can. Over the last four games the Wolf Pack has rolled up over 2,400 yards, over 600 per game, and has run for 16 scores over the last three weeks. The ground game will work.
What To Watch Out For: Nevada freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo has been a scoring machine over the last three weeks running for seven touchdowns with four against New Mexico State. He’s not the all-around playmaker that Colin Kaepernick is, but he’s throwing consistently well, he hasn’t thrown a pick over the last few games, and he’s finishing off drives with points. He’s young, but he’s already proving to be a terrific conductor for the attack.
Hawaii’s Bryant Moniz has been good, but he hasn’t put up huge, Hawaii-like numbers over the last several weeks. He has thrown for 22 scores with just five picks, and he has eight rushing scores, but he hasn’t been consistent and he’s been under 300 passing yards two of the last three games. He doesn’t have the receiving corps he enjoyed last year, but he’s still spreading the ball around and he’s still moving the offense around; it’s just not happening down the field. The short-to-midrange passes are there, but the deep balls aren’t.
What Will Happen: It’ll be a wild shootout. Nevada will run wild, Hawaii will throw it all over the yards, and the points and yards will be flying. Nevada will run its offense a bit better.
CFN Prediction: Nevada 41 … Hawaii 28
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Line: Nevada -14.5 O/U: 60.5
Nov. 12 at NMSU 48 … Fresno State 45
(AP) LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- With 1:50 left, Matt Christian connected with Taveon Rogers on a 37-yard touchdown pass to lift New Mexico State over Fresno State 48-45 on Saturday night.
The Aggies (4-6, 2/3 WAC) were up 17-23 at halftime, but the Bulldogs (3-7, 2-3) pulled ahead in the third quarter thanks to a touchdown run and two scoring catches by Jalen Saunders to make it 38-31.
A few minutes later, Kenny Turner tied it for the Aggies with a short touchdown run, his third of the game. Turner finished with a game-high 112 yards rushing and added a touchdown catch.
A field goal put New Mexico State on top 41-38, but the Bulldogs' Robbie Rouse answered with a touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 45-41.
Christian threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns. Fresno State's Derek Carr threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns.
Fresno State (3-6) at New Mexico State (3-6) Nov. 12, 8:00, ESPN3
Here’s The Deal … It’s now or never for bowl hopes for both teams with the winner assured of a losing season and the winner still in the hunt for an extra game. Neither team is playing all that well at the moment, both offenses can put up yards; this could and should be a shootout.
No, New Mexico State isn’t in the bowl mix losing three straight after getting blasted 63-16 by Georgia, but the passing game has enough juice to give Fresno State a hard time and getting QB Matt Christian back – possibly – from a concussion has the potential to turn things around.
Fresno State has been a disaster, losing four of the last five games and needs to win out to go bowling. Three of the final four games are on the road, with a trip to Hawaii next week, and it’s asking a lot of a team that’s struggling so much defensively to get by Hawaii and San Diego State, and it has to turn things around in a big hurry against a dangerous NMSU attack that can put up passing yards in chunks.
Why Fresno State Might Win: New Mexico State hasn’t exactly been a rock on defense this year, but it’s really struggling over the last few week. Georgia, Nevada, and Hawaii all had no problems doing whatever they wanted with the three teams combining for over 1,800 yards, and Fresno State might have a chance to do the same. The Bulldogs haven’t been consistent, but they have enough speed on the outside to challenge the NMSU corners deep, while Robbie Rouse, even through the team’s problems, has been the WAC’s best back averaging 120 yards per game.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: Fresno State can’t hang on to the ball and can’t come up with takeaways. 118th in the nation in turnover margin, the Bulldogs have turned it over 18 times while coming up with just three takeaways. The interceptions haven’t picked off a pass since the second week of the season, and it has only come up with just one fumble recovery in the last five games. New Mexico State has had problems turning it over with six giveaways over the last two weeks, but that shouldn’t be a problem against the Bulldogs. Offensively, NMSU should be able to bomb away against Fresno State’s secondary that’s getting torched by everyone, giving up 300 yards or more in the last two games with nine scores in the last four weeks.
What To Watch Out For: New Mexico State senior safety Donyae Coleman is having an All-America caliber season. The veteran was good last year with 92 tackles, but this year’s he’s doing even more with 99 tackles with three forced fumbles, five broken up passes, and four picks. He made 24 stops in the loss to Nevada two weeks ago and has hit the double-digit tackle mark six times. Last year he made eight tackles against the Bulldogs, and he should make at least ten, meeting up with Rouse time and again. The lone bright spot in a dying year, Rouse hit the 1,000-yard mark last week with 96 yards against Louisiana Tech. He torched the Aggies for 150 yards and two scores last year against the Aggies, and while this year’s NMSU team is far better, he should get 100 yards for the seventh time on the season.
What Will Happen: Fresno State will pound its way to the win. NMSU will get its passing yards, but it won’t have the ball enough with Rouse running for 150 yards and helping the Bulldogs keep the ball for over 35 minutes. The Aggies will have their chances late, but Rouse will close things out with a great drive to kill the clock and save the Bulldog defense.
CFN Prediction: Fresno State 34 … New Mexico State 27
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Fresno State -8 O/U: 63.5
Nov. 12 at Utah State 34 … San Jose State 33
(AP) LOGAN, Utah -- Matt Austin scored on a 21-yard pass from Adam Kennedy with less than a minute remaining as Utah State came from behind to top San Jose State 34-33 Saturday.
Utah State (4-5, 2-2 WAC) outscored San Jose 27-13 in the second half to grab their third consecutive win over the Spartans (3-7, 2-4).
USU scored two touchdowns late in the game on pass plays after turning the ball over three times early in the fourth quarter with two fumbles and an interception. USU blocked a 67-yard field goal attempt by San Jose with five seconds remaining to seal the comeback win.
San Jose was led by quarterback Matt Faulkner who threw for 340 yards on 27 of 49 attempts. Jens Alvernick added four field goals for San Jose, which is a school record.
San Jose State (2-7) at Utah State (3-5) November 12th, 3PM ET
Here’s The Deal … The San Jose State Spartans hit the road to play the Utah State Aggies in a WAC matchup. The Aggies won last season’s meeting 38-34 in San Jose.
The Spartans have emerged as one of the biggest surprises in college football this season. After winning only three games over the last two seasons, San Jose State has equaled that total this season with a 3-6 record. The Spartans will attempt to get back in the win column this week after surrendering 22 points in the fourth quarter to Idaho in a 32-29 loss last week.
Utah State has had a much better season than their 3-5 would indicate. The Aggies could easily be undefeated, as they have led in every game this year but have had trouble closing out games. Last week, Utah State used some late game heroics of its own, scoring 28 points in the second half to defeat Hawaii 35-31.
This game will provide plenty of excitement as both teams need to win this game to keep their bowl hopes alive.
Why San Jose State Might Win: The Spartan passing game will lead them to victory. The San Jose State passing attack has caught fire over the last five games, completing 60% of its passes, and eclipsing the 300-yard mark three times. Their strength matches up well against the Utah State defense’s weakness, which is passing defense. While the Aggies have not played badly against the pass, they have been prone to give up big plays, especially late in the game.
Why Utah State Might Win: Can anyone stop the Aggies rushing attack? Utah State has run the ball well in every game this season, including games against Auburn and BYU. The Aggies rank sixth nationally in rushing yards per game, averaging 267.8 yards per contest. They will not have any trouble running against the San Jose State, which ranks 97th nationally in rushing defense.
What To Watch Out For: In order to beat Utah State’s defense – which ranks 25th nationally in total defense – the Spartans will need throw the ball. San Jose State will place their hopes in the capable hands of QB Matt Faulkner. Faulkner ranks third in the WAC in total offense, averaging 255.1 yards per contest. In addition, he has thrown for over 300 yards in two of the last three games.
On the other side of the ball, the Aggies will pound the rock all game long against a San Jose State defense that allows 5.3 yards per carry in conference play. While the Aggies have considerable depth at running back, Robert Turbin will lead the way. After missing last season with an ACL injury, Turbin has taken the conference by storm, rushing for 115 yards per game, and averages an amazing 6.6 yards per carry.
What Will Happen: Each team will do what it does best. San Jose State will go to the air, while to Utah State will run the ball. While the game should remain close early on, the physical play of the Aggies will wear down the Spartans in the second half. Utah State pulls away late, and takes another step towards bowl eligibility.
CFN Prediction: Utah State 38 … San Jose State 24
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Utah State -11 O/U: 54.5
Idaho (2-7) at BYU (6-3) November 12th, 9:15 PM ET, ESPN2
Here’s The Deal … The Idaho Vandals travel to Provo, Utah to face the BYU Cougars in the first meeting between these teams since 1955.
After entering the season with expectations of another bowl bid, the Vandals have struggled with consistency, limping to a 2-7 record. However, Idaho showed signs of life on offense last week, scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter to defeat San Jose State 32-29.
BYU has had a very successful first season as an independent. The Cougars have a 6-3 record, with road victories over both the SEC (Ole Miss) and the Pac 12 (Oregon State). They will look to get back on track this week after losing 38-28 to former conference foe TCU.
Both teams need to win this game. For Idaho, a win over the Cougars would build off last week’s win and energize the Vandal fan base for the 2012 season. On the other hand, a BYU victory would clinch a berth in the Armed Services bowl.
Why Idaho Might Win: After struggling all season long on offense, Idaho finally got things going last week, rushing for a season-high 185 yards against San Jose State. This trend should continue again this week, as the Vandals face a BYU defense that has struggled at times this season against the run. In addition, the Idaho defense has continued to improve over the second half of the season, allowing no more than 360 yards per game in three of their last four games. If this turns into a field position game, the Vandals will have the advantage because they rank sixth nationally in net punting.
Why BYU Might Win: Ever since Riley Nelson came off the bench to spark the team to a win over Utah State, the offense has played extremely well. The Cougar offense relies on balance, led by a deep group of running backs that average 4.1 yards per carry. However, BYU also poses a threat through the air, completing 58% of their passes since the QB switch. The Cougars will probably throw the ball a little more this week to take advantage of Idaho’s secondary, which has allowed over 300 yards passing four times this season.
What To Watch Out For: Even though the Vandals’ success will depend on how well RB’s Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey can run the ball, keep an eye on sophomore QB Taylor Davis. Davis took over for senior Brian Reader as the starter last week, and responded by leading Idaho to its first win over a FBS opponent this season, hitting 13 of 20 for 165 yards and throwing only one interception. While these numbers might not win any awards, they do show that Davis knows how to manage a game. They will need another effective performance from Davis to have any chance of victory against the Cougars.
After using a pro-style offense early in the season, BYU’s offense now revolves around QB Riley Nelson. Nelson’s skill set causes all sorts of headaches for opposing defensive coordinators, because he poses a threat as a runner and a passer. Since Nelson took over in the second half of the Utah State game, he has the led the team in rushing in three of those five games. Nelson also has thrown the ball well during that stretch, completing 59% of his passes, and throwing for 12 TD’s and only 5 INT’s.
What Will Happen: BYU’s offense will take control of this game from the outset, exploiting the Vandal secondary for some quick scores. While Idaho will have early success on offense, the Cougar defense will buckle down, and shut down the Vandal offense. BYU scores early and often, coasting to a blowout win that locks up a berth in the Armed Services Bowl.
CFN Prediction: BYU 38… Idaho 7
Click For Latest Line From ATS: BYU -21 O/U: 47
Louisiana Tech (5-4) at Ole Miss (2-7) Nov. 12, 7:30, ESPN3
Here’s The Deal … It’ll be a different world for Ole Miss football next year as the Houston Nutt era has just three games left after losing four straight and last week’s loss to Kentucky ensuring a bowl-less season. With LSU and a trip to Mississippi State left, a 2-10 campaign is almost assured if the Rebels can’t get by a rolling Louisiana Tech team, but with the pressure off and Nutt already announcing he’s stepping down at year’s end, this might be a different look and a more relaxed squad.
Louisiana Tech clunked its way through the first half of the year on the way to a 1-4 start with a patch of three road games in four ahead, but everything turned around. The road dates weren’t that bad, rolling through the mediocre WAC, as the Bulldogs have won four straight after the loss to Hawaii setting up next week’s game against Nevada for the conference title. The offense has picked up its production while the defense has been night-and-day better over the last month. The mistakes aren’t there and the run defense has been a rock at times, but now comes the real test. As bad as Ole Miss has been, one of the two wins came at Fresno State in a walk, and now Tech has to give the WAC something positive.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: The Ole Miss offense has been miserable, and it’s not just because It’s going against SEC defense. It hasn’t produced against Alabama and Georgia, and it hasn’t produced against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. It hasn’t produced against BYU, and it hasn’t produced against Auburn. The two times this year the Rebels scored more than 24 points was against Southern Illinois and Fresno State – both wins – while Louisiana Tech’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in three of the last four games.
The Rebels aren’t that awful at cranking out yards, coming up with close to 400 in each of the last three games, but they can’t seem to turn drives into points with too many stalls and too many misfires in key moments. Ole Miss is 105th in the nation in third down conversion percentage, connecting just 34% of the time, while the Louisiana Tech defense has been terrific at getting off the field ranking 13th in the nation in third down defense.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Louisiana Tech isn’t playing a WAC team. The Bulldogs blew up Fresno State and San Jose State over the last two weeks, but Ole Miss, if properly motivated, has the athletes and the secondary to keep the hot passing game in check. The pass rush hasn’t been there as expected this year, but the talent is there to roll in the backfield against a Tech offensive line that’s not doing enough in pass protection. The Bulldogs are giving up 2.44 sacks per game, and they’re almost certainly going to give up at least three if Ole Miss decides to play.
The Tech pass defense and secondary has been a problem giving up yards in chunks, allowing six touchdowns over the last two weeks giving up 338 yards to San Jose State and 290 yards to Fresno State. Ole Miss doesn’t have a passing game and only has eight passing scores on the year, but if it can get over 200 yards and balance things out a bit, that should be enough to offset a ground game that should expose a Tech defensive front that looks great on paper, but has problems against teams that can actually run.
What To Watch Out For: It’ll be strength vs. strength when Louisiana Tech is punting. Field position has been a positive with Ryan Allen coming up with a terrific year averaging 46 yards per kick ranking sixth in the nation. He killed Fresno State last week, averaging 49 yards per boot and pinning the Bulldogs inside the 20 three times, and he averaged 48 yards per kick with two put inside the 20 against San Jose State. Ole Miss leads the nation in punt returns thanks to an 84-yard return for a score by Nickolas Brassell against Georgia, but there have been just two returns in the last five games. The Rebels will get a few this week.
Louisiana Tech running back Lennon Creer has played a huge role in turning things around for Tech, finding the groove he had in the second half of the last year with 112 yards against San Jose State and 113 against Fresno State for his first 100-yard games since ripping off 177 yards and three scores against Central Arkansas. Over the last two seasons, Tech 7-1 when he hits the century mark.
What Will Happen: Ole Miss will find the Coach Is Leaving spark. The pressure is off and the team can relax a bit, but more than anything else, it’s not playing an SEC team. Louisiana Tech is on a roll, but the Rebel run defense will hold Creer in check and the offense will come up with a balanced, solid effort to erase the taste of the horrible performance against Kentucky. Expect a good game.
CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 31 … Louisiana Tech 26
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Louisiana Tech -2.5 O/U: 48
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