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Week 2 M-West - Arizona at UNLV & More
Week 2 M-West Fearless Predictions - Arizona at UNLV & More
New Mexico (0-1) at UTEP (0-0) Sept. 7, 8:00
Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Lobos and the Miners are set to meet for the 77th time, a regional rivalry between schools that once resided together in the WAC for three decades. UTEP was one of six FBS schools that had a bye last week, which means this Saturday marks the beginning of the Sean Kugler era in El Paso. The program is trying to reverse a trend of seven straight losing seasons that resulted in the ouster of former coach Mike Price. New Mexico stumbled out of the gates in Week 1 with a home loss to UTSA in a game that it initially led 13-0. The Lobos have dropped 15 straight games in the state of Texas.
Why New Mexico Might Win: UTEP will have problems stopping the Lobos’ running game, especially as it begins life with a slew of new starters on the defensive side of the ball. New Mexico will pound incessantly on the Miners’ front seven with a combination of athletic QB Cole Gautsche and RB Kasey Carrier. Carrier rushed for a school-record 1,469 yards in 2012, and will be running behind four of last season’s five starting blockers.
Why UTEP Might Win: The Miners will have the offensive balance that New Mexico simply won’t be able to match. UTEP has a pretty good running back of its own, Nathan Jeffery, but QB Jameill Showers is liable to be the difference-maker. The Texas A&M transfer, who lost his battle with Johnny Manziel last year, has an NFL arm, which is exciting news for well-sized receivers Jordan Leslie and Ian Hamilton.
Who To Watch Out For: Showers could get introduced once or twice to New Mexico NT Jacori Greer, a sudden pass rusher capable of busting through the line and into the backfield.
- What can UTEP expect from S Richard Spencer this week? Arguably the Miners’ best defensive player is returning from a serious knee injury, and has yet to be cleared to the opener.
- It could be a long evening for Lobos CB Cranston Jones. The 5-9 sophomore will struggle to match the UTEP receivers, who go two-deep with pass-catchers no smaller than 6-1.
What Will Happen: New staff. New season. New quarterback. There’ll be a little extra hint of excitement in the El Paso air when UTEP trots onto the field this weekend. That plus a more balanced all-around offense will help carry the Miners to a successful start for Kugler at his alma mater.
Prediction: UTEP 28 … New Mexico 20
strong> Line: UTEP -6.5 o/u: 48
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5
UC Davis (0-1) at Nevada (0-1) Sept. 7, 9:05, Mountain West
Why You Should Give A Hoot: How good is UCLA? The Bruins ripped through the Nevada defense like it wasn’t there, rolling up 647 yards on the way to a 58-20 blowout win. They might be really, really special, and Nevada might have simply run into a buzzsaw. At least that has to be the hope for new head coach Brian Polian before having to face Florida State next. In the meantime, the Wolf Pack needs to get by a UC Davis team that should be in for a tough year in the Big Sky, and is coming off a 10-7 loss to South Dakota.
Why UC Davis Might Win: There are some nice parts to the puzzle, even if it didn’t look like it against South Dakota. The pass defense held up well and did a nice job of keeping the game close with third down stop after third down stop. If the Aggies can somehow force a few third-and-longs, this could be a bit of a fight, but …
Why Nevada Might Win: The running game is about to work. South Dakota had no problems coming up with yard in chunks against a reworked UC Davis defensive front. UCLA was able to bottle up the Pack running backs, but quarterback Cody Fajardo did what he could rushing for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Other parts of the puzzle will get a lot more work this week.
Who To Watch Out For: It might have been a long day for the Nevada defense, but sophomore linebacker Jordan Dobrich did what he could making ten tackles and a slew of open field stops. He’s smart, quick and built to hold up on the inside, and he should be a statistical machine after getting his feet wet last year. Now he should be the main man for the defensive front seven.
What Will Happen: Nevada will break out after a rough first outing. UC Davis will have a hard time getting the offense going, even against a porous Wolf Pack defense that needs a confidence boost.
Prediction: Nevada 45 … UC Davis 10
Line: Nevada -18 o/u: 60.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1
Cal Poly (1-0) at Fresno State (1-0) Sept. 7, 10:00, ESPN3
Why You Should Give A Hoot: In a good first weekend of games, Fresno State might have played the best of the bunch holding on for a 52-51 overtime thriller. Things should be a little easier this week before a fun two game stretch against Colorado and Boise State that might make or break the season. Cal Poly came up with a nice first win against San Diego, rolling up 307 yards of rushing offense and 533 total yards in the blowout. This is a good Bik Sky team that should hang around in the conference race.
Why Cal Poly Might Win: The offense should be able to give the shaky Fresno State defense a fight. Rutgers was able to roll at will with big play after big play to make it a wild opener, and Cal Poly should be able to throw without much of a problem. This is a loaded team for the ground game, coming off a fantastic 2012 and picking up where it left off. The Mustangs should be able to control the ball and the clock to keep Derek Carr off the field.
Why Fresno State Might Win: Cal Poly’s secondary can be beaten up. San Diego’s quarterbacks combined to complete 31-of-39 passes for 257 yards, and now it’s Carr’s turn at bat. Fresno State was nearly unstoppable against the Scarlet Knights, showing off too many weapons and too many big play receivers. Cal Poly will have to pick its poison and accept that one of the Bulldog targets will take control at some point. It’s also vital to generate pressure on Carr, who threw the ball 73 times last week for 456 yards and five scores. However …
Who To Watch Out For: Expect more balance from the Fresno State offense. Marteze Waller was bottled up, running just eight times for 30 yards, but he’ll bust out at some point and be a key part of the attack; it should start now. The 5-11, 205-pounder is very smart, very quick, and with the upside to put up Robbie Rouse-like numbers. The Georgia native was a high school superstar who tore off yards in chunks, and he should be able to thrive with more work.
What Will Happen: Cal Poly will crank out over 200 rushing yards, and it won’t be nearly enough. Fresno State will keep the offensive production rolling, but it’ll have to deal with a wee bit of a letdown for a half.
Prediction: Fresno State 48 … Cal Poly 20
Line: Fresno State -27 o/u: 71
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5
Arizona (1-0) at UNLV (0-1) Sept. 7, 10:30, CBS Sports Network
Why You Should Give A Hoot: While not a thing of beauty, Arizona is happy to get that first win in the books, blanking Northern Arizona, 35-0. The opener gave head coach Rich Rodriguez and the staff to review where the Wildcats need to improve in September, beginning with a passing game that produced just 87 yards. Arizona’s gradual step up in competition continues with this week’s visit to Las Vegas. UNLV was a Week 1 microcosm of the Mountain West, losing at Minnesota, 51-23. The pressure continues to mount on head coach Bobby Hauck, who won just two games in each of his first three seasons.
Why Arizona Might Win: The Wildcats figure to execute much better on offense this week. They’ve got four quarters of work behind them, and, oh, the return from suspension of RB Ka’Deem Carey is going to help as well. The nation’s reigning rushing champ is itching to get back on the field to face a Rebels defense that just got done allowing 221 yards rushing and 5.8 yards per carry to the Golden Gophers.
Why UNLV Might Win: Don’t be fooled by the shutout pitched by Arizona last week. The defense is still a work in progress in Tucson. The Rebels opened with more than 400 yards versus a Big Ten D, and they’re capable of balancing their attack with the passing of Nick Sherry and the running of Tim Cornett and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence. The ‘Cats remain suspect at the point of attack.
Who To Watch Out For: Arizona could labor all season to move the ball through the air. QB B.J. Denker is a better runner, plus the receiving corps sorely misses injured Austin Hill and David Richards.
- Carey has first-round NFL talent, but a free agent head at times. This is a different team when No. 25 is on the field, bringing optimism to the entire program.
- S Tra’Mayne Bondurant is a special player for Arizona and an ideal fit for coordinator Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 alignment. Bondurant earned Pac-12 Player of the Week, returning one of his two picks for six.
What Will Happen: Arizona would win at Sam Boyd Stadium without Carey. With the junior, the Wildcats ought to win comfortably. Still lacking balance, the Wildcats will lean heavy on Carey, Daniel Jenkins and the balance of the ground game. The inconsistency of the turnover-prone Sherry will feed into Arizona’s aggressive nature, resulting in a spate of costly turnovers.
Prediction: Arizona 41 … UNLV 21
Line: Arizona -10 o/u: 61
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2
San Jose State (1-0) at Stanford (0-0) Sept. 7, 11:00, Pac-12 Network
Why You Should Give A Hoot: After sitting out the opening weekend of the 2013 season, No. 5 Stanford gets its first chance to advertise its potential as a Pac-12 and national championship contender in the Bill Walsh Legacy Game. The Cardinal has gone a staggering 35-5 over the past three seasons, evolving into one of college football’s powerhouse programs. San Jose State opened its first season under head coach Ron Caragher with a ho-hum 24-0 victory over Sacramento State. The Spartans, fresh off a remarkable 11-2 campaign, have predictably struggled versus rival Stanford, losing nine of the last 10 meetings.
Why San Jose State Might Win: The Spartans have had a knack for playing the Cardinal tough, losing to last season’s Pac-12 champs by just a field goal. San Jose State boasts difference-makers on all three units, from future NFL QB David Fales and CB Bene Benwikere to P Harrison Waid. This is a grown-up squad, with the parts and the demeanor to hang with one of the nation’s premier programs.
Why Stanford Might Win: What makes the Cardinal so tough is that it’s rugged and physical in the trenches, and it has no obvious weaknesses. This is close to a complete team, with a rock-solid D and a stable of 215-pound backs to keep the chains moving. San Jose State’s biggest concern late Saturday night will be keeping Fales clean. The Spartans don’t have nearly enough talent up front to slow down the wave of Cardinal that includes Ben Gardner, Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov and Henry Anderson.
Who To Watch Out For: San Jose State has Fales behind center. Stanford has Kevin Hogan. There’s hope that Hogan will begin evolving as a passer in 2013.
- The Spartans’ run defense is underrated, but Stanford presents all kinds of challenges. Not only is the Cardinal line among the toughest in America, but backs Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson are pile-drivers.
- This is obviously a crucial game for Fales’ future. Accurate and polished in his mechanics, he’ll need to avoid the kinds of mistakes that Stanford DBs Ed Reynolds and Alex Carter can turn into momentum-killing turnovers.
What Will Happen: This is a tricky opener for Stanford, which doesn’t have the luxury of a game under its belt. Plus, San Jose State houses enough veteran leaders to keep this game competitive past halftime. However, the Cardinal has the ability to wear down opponents from both sides of the ball. It’ll bully the Spartans on the ground, and it’ll win the turnover battle en route to a hard-fought win.
Prediction: Stanford 32 … San Jose State 16
Line: Stanford -26.5 o/u: 49
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 3