2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13 - WAC Previews
WAC Fearless Predictions &
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New Mexico State (4-7) at Louisiana Tech (7-4) November 26th, 4PM ET
Here’s The Deal … The WAC title will be on the line when the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs host the New Mexico State Aggies. The Bulldogs won last year’s meeting 41-20.
Despite their 4-7 record, the Aggies have improved tremendously this season. Picked to finish dead last in preseason media polls, New Mexico State already has two conference wins. While last week’s 42-7 shellacking by BYU eliminated the Aggies from bowl contention, they still could still reach the six-win total for the first time since 2002 if they can win their last two games.
Louisiana Tech has also exceeded expectations this year. After dropping their conference opener, and starting the season 1-4, few people gave the Bulldogs any chance to win the WAC this season. However, Tech has won six games in a row, and seized control of first place last week with a 24-20 win over defending conference champion Nevada. With a win over New Mexico State, Tech would win the WAC title, and earn a chance to play former WAC foe Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: New Mexico State has one of the top passing offenses in the country, ranking 17th nationally in passing yards per game. The Aggies have done even better in conference play, throwing for an average of 311 yards in WAC games. They will have no trouble exploiting a Louisiana Tech defense that has given up four 300-yard passing games, and ranks 102nd nationally in passing defense.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: Louisiana Tech has one of the top rushing offenses in the WAC, ranking third in the conference in rushing yards per game. They will run the ball more than usual against a New Mexico State defense that allows 5.5 yards per carry. In addition to their advantage in the running game, Tech has the advantage in turnover margin, averaging almost a full takeaway more than their opponents do.
What To Watch Out For: Keep an eye out for New Mexico State’s Taveon Rogers. Rogers is the Aggies’ most explosive player with 44 catches for 880 yards and 9 TDs. In addition, Rogers doubles as a kickoff returner, and leads the WAC with 26.06 yards per kickoff return. New Mexico State will get him the ball as often as they can to exploit a suspect Bulldog secondary.
On the other side of the ball, watch out for RB Hunter Lee. With both QB Nick Isham and leading rusher Lennon Creer possibly out due to injury, it is imperative that the Bulldogs establish the running game. Lee has made the most of his opportunities this season, running for 134 yards against Idaho and 127 yards against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs will give the ball to Lee early and often looking for some big runs against the Aggies’ porous run defense.
What Will Happen: This game should have plenty of offense. Louisiana Tech will establish the ground game from the outset, while New Mexico State will throw downfield looking for the big play. In a shootout like this, the team with the best defense will prevail. The Bulldog defense will take over this game in the second half, leading them to a convincing win and a WAC title.
CFN Prediction: Louisiana Tech 38… New Mexico State 21
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Louisiana
Tech -19.5 O/U: 58
Nov. 26 San Jose State 27 … at Fresno State 24
(AP) FRESNO, Calif. -- Matt Faulkner passed for 363 yards and two second-half touchdowns as San Jose State edged Fresno State 27-24 on Saturday night.
Noel Grigsby caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown for San Jose State (5-7, 3-4 Western Athletic Conference), which defeated Fresno State for just the second time in 19 meetings. It was also the Spartans' first victory at Bulldog Stadium since 1987.
Robbie Rouse ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns for Fresno State (4-8, 3-4), which never got the ball back after pulling to within three points on a Derek Carr touchdown pass with 6:15 remaining.
Carr finished with 276 passing yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders.
San Jose State took over at its 31-yard line and marched 56 yards on 13 plays to run out the clock. The Spartans were aided by a pass-interference penalty.
San Jose State (4-7) at Fresno State (4-7) Nov. 26, 8:00
Here’s The Deal … These two rivals from Northern California will be playing solely for bragging rights this year as neither team will be able to finish with a winning record. San Jose State picked up its fourth win of the season last week against Navy, which is more wins than in its previous two seasons combined. While this season has been a step in the right direction, it would take a giant leap forward with a win over Fresno State, a team that has beaten the Spartans in 16 of the last 17 meetings. The Bulldogs have struggled this year, and they are enduring one of the worst seasons ever during Pat Hill’s tenure. They did pick up a nice road victory over Hawai’i last week, but they had dropped three in a row before that game, giving up at least 40 points in each loss. Fresno State still has one more game next week at San Diego State and will need to finish the season on a high note to ensure Hill’s return next season.
Why San Jose State Might Win: The Spartans have really developed a potent passing attack this season as they are averaging 269 yards per game through the air, which ranks 29th in the country. QB Matt Faulkner has thrown for 2786 yards and 11 touchdowns, but his problem has been turning the ball over. He has 12 interceptions on the year, but he has only thrown one in the past three games, so if he can protect the football and make good decisions then SJSU has a great chance at pulling off the road win. One reason to think he will succeed in this game is because Fresno State ranks 116th nationally with a -1.09 turnover margin. If Fresno State cannot force the Spartans to make mistakes then the Bulldogs will struggle to win this ball game.
Why Fresno State Might Win: The Bulldogs own the Spartans, and the players on both sides know the history between the two schools. Fresno will be confident and will expect to win this contest. The Bulldogs have been electric this year returning punts, averaging 16.18 yards per return, which is fourth in the country, and if they can break loose and find space then there could be some electrifying special team’s plays in this contest. Fresno will always have a run-first offense, and that will present huge benefits in this contest as the Spartans have an awful rush defense, giving up 207.18 yards per game on the ground. Fresno should be able to take advantage of this and pound the ball on the weak front line of SJSU.
What To Watch Out For: SJSU DE Travis Johnson & Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse. Johnson is the lynchpin of the SJSU defense, and if he plays well then the entire unit will feed off his energy. He has accumulated 69 tackles on the year, and he has 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He has also blocked two kicks, and if he can make stops in the backfield and cause havoc in special teams then the Spartans have a great chance to pull the upset. Rouse has been another ultra-productive running back for the Bulldogs in a long line of great runners. He has 1342 yards on the ground this year with 10 touchdowns, and he has also become a weapon in the passing game lately as he had six catches for 51 yards last week against Hawai’i. Rouse should be able to find daylight everywhere in the porous Spartan defense, and if he can rush for over 150 yards then SJSU doesn’t stand a chance.
What Will Happen: Fresno has more explosiveness and will be playing in front of the home fans for the final time this season, but something just seems off with this team. SJSU is playing with more purpose and confidence this year, and the Spartans will come into Fresno and emerge with the road victory behind the steady play of the offense and the opportunistic play of the defense.
CFN Prediction: San Jose State 31 … Fresno State 27
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Fresno
State -6.5 O/U: 64.5
Nevada (6-4) at Utah State (5-5) Sat Nov 26, 10:00 AM ET, ESPN Gameplan
Here’s The Deal… Junior quarter back Adam Kennedy has taken over during USU’s three game win streak while starter Chuckie Keeton is listed as doubtful for the game, meanwhile, Nevada star running back Mike Ball has just been dismissed from the team following repeated violations of team rules. All this only adds to the drama involved in a game that will effectively decide the second place spot in the WAC.
Utah State needs this for bowl eligibility; it is possible that the WAC will have four bowl eligible teams with only three guaranteed slots. A position battle is in place and both USU and UNR will want to have the local Humanitarian bowl invite if the Poinsettia, which Louisiana Tech has to lose, is out of reach. The winner of this game will effectively lock the Humanitarian bowl up.
Why Utah State might win: At some point USU has to turn into a true contender. It has been a good losing team for going on three seasons; it needs to start winning these kinds of high-pressure games, the sooner the better. Spirits are high in Logan as the team overcame four late turnovers to win an away game. That’s convenient, because spirits may be low coming out of Reno with the dismissal of the very popular Mike Ball.
Pathos aside, Utah State has the number 1 in the WAC and 6th in the nation rushing attack while UNR has the No. 2 in the WAC and 9th in the nation rush, but USU has an elite 21st rush defense, while Nevada’s rush defense is an average 52nd. The Pack’s defense in general is it’s vulnerable area, sometimes playing quite good, sometimes looking like gerbils in a cage. It’s almost as if a switch goes on and off to see the UNR defense go from one extreme to the other, but in no game has it put forth a solid sustained effort. USU is going to have every chance to score.
Why Nevada might win: Nevada already knows how to pull off the big wins. It knows what it has to do, it knows what it’s opponent is going to try on any give week, it just needs to execute that which it is accustomed to executing. Just because the UNR defense hasn’t put forth a sustained effort yet does not mean it isn’t about to happen.
Nevada’s overall offense is 5th in the nation in total offense, while USU’s total defense is 36th, if USU can score, the Pack can too. Mike Ball’s getting dismissed is more an emotional issue than a productive one; he has been limited in recent weeks by the aforementioned team rules issues as well as injury. Mark Lampford has filled in well. Expect Cody Fajardo to keep things under control. Expect Corbin Louks to see an expanded role with experimental plays. The offense will find ways to work, and the defense is relatively healthy and deeply aware of it problems.
What To Watch Out For: The Dive rout. These teams aren’t going to pass for miles, this is a battle in the trenches, both are as creative as can be when it comes to inventing new tricky misdirective run routs but the bread and butter, cloud of dust, between the tackles run success is what will set up the easy 2nd and 3rd downs that will then lead to the win. Watch the lines and the up the gut plays. That is generally true in any game, but not only is it a little more so here, these two make it more entertaining to watch as well.
What Will Happen: Home field, team moral, recent wins, it seems like all the intangibles are looking toward USU. Intangibles are however intangible; to find something more solid look over WAC team statistics and you might think USU was dominating the WAC record wise. USU is not of course, in part because it is only now finding it’s own winning ways. It’s just learning how to win, a lesson UNR has already taken to heart four years ago, but that takes the conversation back to intangibles again. USU needs this game more, it may want it more, and it would be a better team overall, if only it knew how, but it has been learning and, its time to show it can win a big game.
CFN Prediction: Utah State 37... Nevada 32
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Utah
State -1.5 O/U: 64
Tulane (2-10) at Hawaii (5-6) Nov. 26, 11:00
Here’s The Deal … Hawaii’s need for two more victories in order to become bowl-eligible took a backseat this week when allegations of point-shaving by the football team surfaced. While it’s too early to speculate where this rumor and investigation might head, it’ll undoubtedly be a distraction by the time kickoff rolls around. The Warriors will need every ounce of focus they can harness in order to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak that’s derailed a once-promising campaign.
For Tulane, this trek to the islands is essentially a bowl game for a team that’s eight games below .500. It’ll be an opportunity to blow off some steam and bask in the sun following another harrowing campaign that cost Bob Toledo his head coaching job. The program lost out on Rich Rodriguez as a possible permanent successor, when the free agent opted instead to lead Arizona in 2012.
Why Tulane Might Win: Not only is Hawaii playing poorly these days, but the off-field distractions will dominate the pre-game buzz on the field and in the stands. The Warriors have slipped considerably on defense, failing to stop the pass or the run. Oh, and injured QB Bryant Moniz is no longer available to bail the D out. The Green Wave will look capitalize with its one-two punch of RB Orleans Darkwa and QB Ryan Griffin. Darkwa is a career day away from eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark, and will benefit from skating on a fast surface. Griffin is a capable hurler, who’s helping with the maturation of young receivers Xavier Rush and Justyn Shackelford.
Why Hawaii Might Win: Moniz is gone, but the Warriors ability to reach the end zone has not, especially versus a Tulane program that ranks last in Conference USA in points allowed. Sophomore David Graves will get his first career start behind center, and will play with something to prove. His ground troops will be no help, so he’ll waste no time going up top, looking for one of his three receivers with at least four touchdown catches, Royce Pollard, Billy Ray Stutzmann or Jeremiah Ostrowski. While you don’t get better losing a veteran like Moniz, the holdovers have been in the system long enough to get the offense cranking.
What To Watch Out For: Darkwa’s biggest hurdle to success will be avoiding the pursuit of the Hawaii linebackers, Aaron Brown, Corey Paredes and Art Laurel. The trio has done a nice job this season of cleaning up messes, and making their presence felt in opposing backfields. While not the biggest collection of linebackers in the WAC, they’re instinctive, with the hot motors to be a real nuisance for the opposing team’s quarterback and running backs.
What Will Happen: Yeah, Moniz has been missed, but with an eager beaver now barking out signals, there’s no chance that the Hawaii offense will lack bounce in its step. Graves has had a week to prepare, which is enough time to devise a scheme for beating the Tulane defense. He’ll make his first statement toward winning the job on a permanent basis, throwing three touchdown passes to three different receivers. The Warriors will be dealing with a distraction, but so will the Green Wave. It’s a rudderless ship with nothing to play for, and the Hawaiian backdrop soothing its senses.
CFN Prediction: Hawaii 38 … Tulane 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS:
Hawaii -18 O/U: 55
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