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CFN Week 14 WAC Game Recaps
Posted Dec 3, 2011

CFN Preview, Prediction & Game Story - Week 14 WAC Game Previews

2011 Prediction & Game Story

Week 14 - WAC Previews

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Utah State 24 … at New Mexico State 21

(AP) LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Adam Kennedy threw three touchdown passes, the last to Matt Austin with 35 seconds left, as Utah State defeated New Mexico State 24-21 on Saturday.

The 8-yard pass capped a 13-play, 83-yard drive. Kennedy and Austin collaborated on another scoring pass, with 1:39 left in the first half, to give Utah State (7-6, 6-2 in WAC) a 14-7 lead.

Kennedy completed 12 of 16 passes for 123 yards. He also rushed for 96 yards, part of a 395-yard effort on the ground. Michael Smith ran for 121 yards and Robert Turbin had 98. Utah State had 515 yards total offense.

New Mexico State (4-9, 2-4) took a 21-17 lead with 8:29 left in the game on a 3-yard run by Kenny Turner.

Utah State (6-5) at New Mexico State (4-8) December 3, 3:30 PM ET

Here’s The Deal … New Mexico State hosts the Utah State Aggies in the season finale for both teams. USU won last year’s meeting 27-22 in Logan.

Utah State has been one of the biggest surprises in college football this season. After having trouble closing out games in the early part of the season, USU has won four games in a row, including last week’s 21-17 over Nevada. Already bowl bound, the Aggies need to win this game to finish in second place in the WAC, which would be their highest finish since joining the conference in 2005.

Despite its 4-8 record, New Mexico State has had a solid season. The Aggies have already doubled last season’s win total, and recorded a BCS-league win over Minnesota from the Big Ten, but thanks to a brutal schedule that included Georgia, BYU, and Louisiana Tech, they’ve lost three of their last four. However, with a win over Utah State, they can reach five wins for the first time since the 2004 season, which would energize the fan base for the 2012 season.

Why Utah State Might Win: No one has been able to stop the Utah State ground game all season long. The Aggies lead the WAC - and rank sixth nationally - in rushing yards per game, averaging over 267 yards per contest, and whopping 5.9 yards per carry. They will matchup very well against a New Mexico State defense that gives up 207 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry.

Why New Mexico State Might Win: New Mexico State can throw the ball against anyone, especially when they play at home, where they have thrown for over 326 yards per contest. The Aggies rank in the top 25 nationally in passing offense, throwing for an average of 274 yards per game. They should have trouble throwing against a Utah State secondary that has struggled recently, allowing over 300 yards passing in two of their last three games.

What To Watch Out For: Utah State will do what it has done all season long, and run the ball straight at the defense. While the Aggies have excellent depth at the running back position, watch out for Robert Turbin. Turbin is USU’s most talented back, rushing for 1318 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 19 TDs. He should get plenty of carries again this week against a NMSU defense that has struggled against the run this year.

Utah State’s defense will be on the lookout for New Mexico State’s Taveon Rogers. Rogers is the Aggies most explosive player, and is a threat to take the ball to the house whenever he touches the ball. Rogers is NSMU’s leading receiver, hauling in 53 catches for 975 and 9 TDs. He also poses a threat in the return game, leading the WAC in kickoff returns with 26 yards per return, and 3 TDs.

What Will Happen: This game will have plenty of offense. New Mexico State will hit some big passing plays early in the game, to keep the game close. However, they will have no answer for the USU running game, which will start to take over the game towards the end of the first half. Utah State wins convincingly, and heads to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with a 7-5 record.

CFN Prediction: Utah State 42 … New Mexico 21
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Utah State -13.5   O/U: 62

at Nevada 56 … Idaho 3

(AP) RENO, Nev. -- Backup quarterback Tyler Lantrip passed for 340 yards and four touchdowns as Nevada routed Idaho 56-3 on Saturday.

Aaron Bradley had seven catches for 136 yards three touchdowns for the Wolf Pack (7-5, 5-2 Western Athletic). Rishard Matthews had 12 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Lampford Mark rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown for the Wolf Pack, which had 587 yards of total offense.

The lone score for Idaho (2-10, 1-6) was a 19-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar with 4:01 left in the second quarter.

Starting in place of the injured Cody Fajardo, Lantrip completed 24 of 31 passes. His 63-yard touchdown strike to Bradley with 9:58 left in the second quarter put Nevada ahead 14-0, and the two hooked up again from 15 yards out with 3:01 left in the half.

Idaho (2-9) at Nevada (6-5) December 3rd, 4PM ET

Here’s The Deal … Nevada hosts the Idaho Vandals in the season finale for both teams. The Wolf Pack won last season’s meeting 63-17 in Moscow.

After entering the season with hopes of a second bowl in the past three seasons, Idaho has had a disappointing season. Despite the 2-9 record, the Vandals have been in most of their games this season, and have played much better in recent weeks. In their last game, Idaho rallied in the fourth quarter to tie second-place Utah State before bowing out in OT. The Vandals want to win this game to energize the program heading into the 2012 season.

Despite a brutal early season schedule that included Oregon, Texas Tech, and Boise, Nevada appeared headed towards a second straight WAC title by jumping out to a 4-0 record in conference play. Unfortunately, the Wolf Pack has dropped its last two games, and has fallen out of contention. However, Nevada can salvage the season by defeating Idaho to move to 7-5. With seven wins, the Wolf Pack will likely land a bowl bid – even if Hawaii upsets BYU this week.

Why Idaho Might Win: The Vandals’ offense finally started clicking in the month of November. Idaho recorded its highest three rushing totals of the season in each of the last three games. In addition, the offense turned in its best passing performance in conference play two weeks ago, throwing for 275 yards against Utah State. With its newfound offensive resurgence, the Vandals should be able to move the ball against a Nevada defense that allows 4.5 yards per carry, and a whopping 289 yards passing in conference play.

Why Nevada Might Win: Can anyone stop the Nevada offense? The Wolf Pack has moved the ball virtually at will this season, averaging 517 yards per game, which is 5th best in the nation. They use a balanced attack, running for 254 yards per game and throwing for 262. Nevada will continue to march up and down the field this week against a Vandal defense that has allowed over 490 yards in each of their last two games.

What To Watch Out For: Even though Idaho prefers to run the ball with RB’s Kama Bailey and Princeton McCarty, the key to victory is in the hands of senior QB Brian Reader. After getting benched two games ago, Reader continued to work hard in practice and won the starting job last week. He had one of the best performances of his career in that game, completing 27 of 39 passes for 275 yards. The Vandals will need another big game from him this week to help open up the running game.

While Nevada prefers to use a balanced offense, they will likely lean more on the running game this week because of an ankle injury to starting QB Cody Fajardo last week. Even if Fajardo does play, expect senior RB Mark Lampford to get plenty of carries. Lampford has made the most of his ascension to the starting role, rushing for 100 yards in each of the last four games. The Wolf Pack will give the ball to Lampford early and often in what should be his fifth straight 100-yard performance.

What Will Happen: This game features two of the WAC’s hottest offenses. Both teams will move the ball well in the early going behind a balanced attack. However, the Wolf Pack defense will make adjustments in the second half, and stop the Vandal offense, while Nevada’s offense will continue to score at will. The Wolf Pack wins convincingly, and advances to the postseason.

CFN Prediction: Nevada 38 … Nevada 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Nevada -20.5   O/U: 56

BYU 41 … at Hawaii 20

(AP) HONOLULU -- Riley Nelson threw for 363 yards and three scores to lead Brigham Young to a 41-20 win over Hawaii on Saturday.

The Armed Forces Bowl-bound Cougars (9-3), who trailed in the second quarter, rallied with 34 consecutive points to end postseason aspirations for the Warriors (6-7). Hawaii needed to beat the Cougars to secure a berth in the Hawaii Bowl.

Nelson, who missed most of the last two games due to injury, completed 25 of 37 passes. BYU racked up 530 yards of offense -- including 296 in the second half -- and 28 first downs.

Hawaii led 13-7 with less than four minutes to play in the second quarter following a 79-yard touchdown pass from David Graves to Trevor Davis, but it was all Cougars after that.

BYU (8-3) at Hawaii (6-6) December 3rd, 7:30 PM ET

Here’s The Deal … Hawaii will host former WAC foe BYU in the first meeting between the two teams since 2002. The Cougars won that meeting 35-32 in Provo.

BYU has had an excellent season in their first year as an independent. After a 1-2 start, the Cougars have won seven of their last eight, including a win over WAC runner-up Utah State. Even though the team has already secured a bid to the Armed Services Bowl, BYU needs to win this game to reach 10 wins for the fifth time in Coach Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure.

Hawaii might be the most up and down team in the country this year. The Warriors have been very good at times this season, defeating Colorado and Louisiana Tech. They have also been very bad at times this season, losing to UNLV and Fresno State. With a 6-6 record, the Hawaii has to win this game in order to qualify for the postseason.

Why BYU Might Win: The reason that the Cougars have had so much success over the second half of the season is because they have established the run. BYU has rushed for 200 yards in five of their last seven games, and has averaged 4.4 yards per attempt. They should have no trouble running against a Hawaii defense that has struggled against power running teams Utah State, Nevada, and Fresno State in the past few weeks.

Why Hawaii Might Win: Even after June Jones bolted for SMU, the Warriors continue to move the chains with a high-octane passing attack. Hawaii again ranks in the Top 10 nationally in passing with a whopping 311 yards per game. More impressively, the offense has continued to succeed despite losing star QB Bryan Moniz to a broken leg. They will go on the attack against a BYU defense that has allowed opposing offenses to complete almost 59% of their passes.

What To Watch Out For: The key to beating Hawaii is to use the running game to set up the pass. In order to get the running game started, the Cougars will turn to RB JJ DiLuigi. While BYU uses a number of different backs, DiLuigi is the team’s leading rusher with 532 yards. In addition, he ranks fourth on the team in receiving with 251 yards. The Cougars will use DiLuigi’s versatility to open up the offense, and offset the potential absence of QB Riley Nelson, who may not play because of a rib injury.

On the other side of the ball, the Warriors’ hopes rest in the hands of QB David Graves. Graves has made the most of his playing time by rallying Hawaii for 3 TD’s against Fresno State, and leading them to victory against Tulane last week. Graves causes problems for opposing defensive coordinators because he can beat you with both his arm and his legs. In the last two games, Graves has thrown for 459 yards, and has run for an additional 90. The Warriors will need another big game from Graves to keep their bowl hopes alive.

What Will Happen: With bowl eligibility on the line, this will be a spirited contest. BYU will establish the run right away, and the Warriors will have some success through the air. Despite Hawaii’s success moving the ball, the Cougar defense will play bend-but-don’t-break defense and keep them out of the end zone, which will make the difference in the game. BYU pulls away in the second half, and prevents the Warriors from getting a bowl-qualifying seventh win.

CFN Prediction: BYU 28 … Hawaii 14
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: BYU -7.5    O/U: 54.5

Fresno State at San Diego State

(AP) SAN DIEGO -- Ronnie Hillman ran for 178 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner on a 2-yard run with 1:09 left, to help San Diego State to a 35-28 win over Fresno State on Saturday night.

Hillman scored touchdowns on runs of 20, 2 and 2 yards before setting up his game-winning score with an 18-yard run with less than two minutes left.

San Diego State (8-4), which is likely to get a bowl bid, overcame a 21-point deficit.

Fresno State (4-9) built a 21-0 lead halfway through the second quarter after Isaiah Green scored on a 59-yard return of a blocked field goal, and Derek Carr's two touchdown passes.

But the Aztecs cut the lead to 21-14 at halftime before the second of Hillman's three short touchdown runs gave the Aztecs a 28-21 lead late in the third quarter. Robbie Rouse's 2-yard run tied the score in the fourth quarter.

Fresno State (4-8) at San Diego State (7-4)
Sat Dec 3, 8:00pm ET, CBS SN,

Here’s The Deal…
Setting conference expansion rumors aside, this game signifies an important moment in California State College football history; it’s the game that SDSU and Fresno reunite as conference rivals. Fresno isn’t officially in the MWC yet, but these two just couldn’t stand to be separated any longer.

Now, setting that nostalgic indulgence aside, these rivals happen to be the proper kind; the kind that hate each other. Years of bad blood and abandonment issues have smoldered over aching coals, and threats of future abandonment and betrayal will not go unnoticed by the fan bases.

Fresno entered the season with hopes of finally getting the WAC championship knocked out before entering the MWC next year, it did so in spite of having an almost total turnover of offensive starters. The resulting season has gone in a fairly forgivable, partially predictable and completely horrible way. That’s all irrelevant now, this is game 13 in the season and the whole team has had a year of experience across the two deep.

Add that to a rekindled instate rivalry and the chance to play spoiler to SDSU’s recruiting and bowl hopes and you have all the revitalizing factors a team needs. SDSU needs this to establish a choice bowls spot, possibly the hometown Poinsettia.

Why Fresno State might win:
Sophomore QB Derek Carr. He is truly carrying this offense and doing that well. Such a fine example of a QB nurturing his team is exactly what we all love to watch and yet terribly rare under this 2011’s circumstances. His 260 completion of 411 attempts performance has brought along Jalen Saunders and Devon Wylie among others to become the core of the Fresno offense. The pass works and it does so even under very difficult circumstances. Everyone knows Fresno wants to pass this year and it can force the pass to work anyway. Fresno has become 30th in the nation in pass offense, 31st in pass efficiency and 45th in total offense behind that efficiency.

Fresno has had trouble with turnovers, 116th in margin, and other execution problems that come with fielding a young team, but now that team has the whole year to build off of, and few of the fumbles were by running backs in the first place. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that problem just went away. The Fresno defense has been reinvigorated under interim defensive coach Tim Skipper, who has been calling more blitz and man coverage’s over the past two games.

Why San Diego State might win:
SDSU has been playing mostly teams that run first to set up the pass, which isn’t its strong suit; it is perfectly suited to stop teams that pass to set up the run instead. Fresno is such a team. Fresno may have the 30th pass offense, but SDSU has the 16th pass defense, and where as Fresno has that nasty 116th turnover margin to overcome, SDSU rarely turns the ball over ranking tied for 13th in the nation.

Fresno’s RB Robbie Rouse is a vital piece of the Fresno game plan against SDSU’s battered and bruised defense, but the whole of the Fresno team has only managed the 72nd rush offense.

What To Watch Out For:
Rouse and Carr. Carr can pass, but watch for his scrambling ability, his losses to sacks versus scrambles for positive yardage has been a roller coaster this year, the net is 80 yards in the black, but that’s only just considering how many scrambles and sacks he’s had to resort to. SDSU giving up the big run is a vital part of the Fresno game plan, if it can keep the chains moving, then it’s game on, if it can’t, its game off Fresno needs to play ball control to win, SDSU’s 40th national total offense is just plain better than Fresno’s 98th national total defense, reinvigorated as it may be.

What Will Happen:
SDSU’s defense statistically is poor against the run, but that’s not the real story those statistics are reflecting. Most defenses try to shut down the run and the long pass to set up the long intermediate drop off pass on third down. SDSU defensively is designed to shut down the pass and force the interior run instead, where it feels it has the speed to close its eleven guys into the middle for the stop.

When SDSU has gone against a team that’s good at rushing through the middle, its defense hasn’t been able to work quite as well as planned. However, Fresno isn’t particularly good at rushing as a team, it has done far better with the pass this year. If it plays to run first, it is playing away from its strength, if it plays to pass first, it’s playing into the jaws of SDSU’s technique. Even if turnovers and SDSU RB Ronnie Hillman don’t become major issues in the game Fresno is still at a disadvantage. Expect Fresno to be able to produce yards, but not quite enough points.

CFN Prediction:
San Diego State 43 ... Fresno State 34
- p://"> Click For Latest Line From ATS: San Diego State -7.5   O/U: 59