WAC Week One Fearless Predictions

Posted Aug 31, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week one WAC games

Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State

WAC Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Game of the Week

Nevada at Fresno State  3:30 pm EST  ESPN  Friday, September 1st
Why to Watch:  It might not be Florida State vs. Miami, but with no conference championship game, it just might turn out to be the most important league battle in the first week (if the Canes and Noles rematch in the ACC title game).  After routing Boise State at home and falling in a classic to USC last season, Fresno State appeared to have the WAC title in the bag. Nevada had other ideas bursting the bubble in a 38-35 stunner. The Bulldogs want payback while the Wolf Pack wants a nasty road win to prove that nothing was fluky about last year.
Why ­­­­Nevada Might Win:  The Pistol offense, led by QB Jeff Rowe, cranks out big offensive numbers and production both on the air and the ground.  Put him in an Oklahoma uniform and you’d see him on the cover of all of the national college football magazines.  But, for as good as he is, it’ll be RB Robert Hubbard, who takes over for former WAC offensive player of the year B.J. Mitchell, who holds the key to trying to come away with a win.  He may be even better than Mitchell was last year and provides the balance to keep the Bulldogs on their heels all game long. The longer the offense can keep moving, the more the Bulldog Stadium crowd will be out of the game.
Why Fresno State Might Win:  The Fresno State offensive line is tremendous and will be ready to roll from snap one with four retuning starters led by All-America candidates Ryan Young at center and Chris Denman at tackle.  This group will set the tone for RB Dwayne Wright to do what he can to keep the time of possession in FSU’s favor and keep the Pistol off the field.  FSU CB Marcus McCauley is one of the best cover corners in the nation and has to make at least one big play to get Rowe thinking.
Who to Watch:  Nevada’s passing game is predicated on rhythm and timing, so the FSU D will be hell-bent on throwing things a bit out of whack. That makes DE Tyler Clutts the player to keep an eye on with his explosiveness off the edge. … Nevada WR Caleb Spencer isn’t real big, but he’ll catch anything in sight.  Almost certain to match up with McCauley for most of the game, the winner between the two might tip the scales in the even matchup.
What Will Happen:  Playing at home, in the opener, with revenge on their minds, the Bulldogs will be jacked up, but Nevada has proven it can weather an early storm and can handle adversity.  Fresno State’s ground game will keep Rowe off the field with Wright coming up with a Player of the Year type of performance.

CFN Prediction: Fresno State 35 ... Nevada 24 ... Line: Fresno State -11.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 4
Final Score:

Sacramento State at Boise State 9 pm EST  Thursday, August 31st
Why to Watch:  Sacramento State’s Hornets travel to the Smurf Turf to serve as fodder for the Boise State attack.  The Broncos are loaded with enough stars on both sides of the ball, including QB Jared Zabransky and LB Korey Hall, to reasonably dream of getting to a BCS game under new head coach Chris Petersen.  If you like blowouts and ungodly offensive numbers, this will be the game for you.
Why ­­­­Sacramento State Might Win
:  It’s all about building for Big Sky play, so this will be a chance to see what a good team looks like and doesn’t have any pressure to deal with. The Hornets will hand the ball to RB Kris Daniels, who was second on the team in rushing last year, more than enough times to try to put pressure on the Broncos interior defense. If he’s effective, this might stay interesting for more than a quarter.
Why Boise State Might Win:  The Broncos know what they have in Zabransky, who should look much better in this opener than he did in last year’s first game in Athens against Georgia.  Linebackers Colt Brooks and Korey Hall are the best pair in the WAC and will keep the Hornets from getting anything consistently going.  If the D does give up some points, kick returner Quinton Jones is good enough to get the offense back in great field position. The opening kickoff might be enough to showcase what he can do.
Who to Watch:  JUCO transfer Tim Brockwell has to be effective under center for the Hornets from snap one. Any big plays he can make on third downs will keep this competitive. For Boise State, Jeff Cavender has moved all over the offensive line throughout his career and now moves over to guard for his third starting position in three years.  The performance of the line will hold the fate for this offense as the season goes on and has to use this game to jell.
What Will Happen:  Petersen has perfected the balance between run and pass, which shouldn’t change in 2006, and the Hornets won’t be able to withstand the pressure.  Zabransky will be efficient with the ball and a bevy of Bronco running backs should move the ball at will.

CFN Prediction: Boise State 63 ... Sacramento State 10 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 1
Final Score:

SE Louisiana at New Mexico State  9 pm EST  Thursday, August 31st
Why to Watch:  There’s nothing like the first annual Hal Mumme Bowl to kick things off in Las Cruces.  The Aggies will feature a big new gunslinger, Chase Holbrook, who should take to Mumme’s NMSU offense like a duck to water, while the Lions begin a stretch of games that features New Mexico State in week one, Southern Miss in week two and Texas Tech in week four.
Why Southeastern Louisiana Might Win:  The Lions have thrown the ball more often than not since Hal Mumme was there a few years ago, but this year, the focus will be on two tough running backs. Kendrick Perry, a transfer from Ole Miss and Jay Lucas, a transfer from Texas A&M, along with last year’s leading rusher RB Mario Gilbert, provides another dimension that should push the mediocre Aggie run defense. 
Why New Mexico State Might Win:  Holbrook can throw the football exactly like Mumme needs and should throw and throw and throw some more. He followed Mumme from SELA in 2005 and now steps into the starting role for this offense where he should put up huge numbers with the load of the offense squarely on his shoulders. The Lions won’t be able to handle the pressure.
Who to Watch:  The last time Akieem Jolla was playing, he was catching passes for the University of Miami, but now he’ll be the main man for Holbrook and the Aggie passing game.  This offense give the 6-3, 200-pound senior one final chance to have a memorable season and show off his pro potential.  SELA DT Steven Smith is a run plugging nose tackle who clogs up the inside as well as anyone in the Southland Conference.
What Will Happen:  The Aggies must establish RB Justine Buries against the SELA run defense to keep the Lions from playing nickel and dime coverage against them throughout the game.  A solid back who can run and catch the ball out of the backfield, he’ll take advantage of the Lions selling out against the pass. SELA will attempt to answer with the dynamic trio of backs they now have, but the pressure of performance will eventually fall on QB Seth Babin and he won’t be able to keep up the pace.

CFN Prediction: New Mexico State 34 ... SE Louisiana  21 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 1.5
Final Score:

San Jose State at Washington  3:30 pm EST  Saturday, September 2nd 
Why to Watch:  The Spartans finished last season with a two game winning streak to build some momentum for the 2006 season, while Washington finished last year with only two wins highlighted by a blowout of Arizona.  Both have plenty to prove. The second years of both Washington head coach Ty Willingham and San Jose State head coach Dick Tomey are key to building each one’s respective programs in the right way, but no one’s expecting miracles. This first game will give some insight about just how far each has to go.
Why San Jose State Might Win:  San Jose State RB Yonus Davis is a dynamic mighty mite who’s fun to watch and the team’s top offensive weapon.  His quickness and cutback ability puts defenses on alert forcing them to stay in their lanes and pursue with discipline. If the Husky defense can’t keep Davis in check, this could be much closer than expected.
Why Washington Might Win:  Washington QB Isaiah Stanback has continued to improve throughout his career and had a strong spring.  He has sprinter’s speed, and now his throwing accuracy has improved and should help keep the chains moving on third down. Safety C.J. Wallace is a rock-hard hitter who sets a tone with his physical, hitting style on defense.  He’ll be the key to stopping Davis from finding running room on cutbacks into the secondary.
Who to Watch:  Washington suffered a major blow when RB J.R. Hasty was lost for the year with after being declared ineligible, so the onus to help keep pressure off of Stanback falls on RBs Kenny James and Louis Rankin.  San Jose State LB Matt Castelo is a mini-Zack Thomas who tackles anything in his path and should butt heads with James, Rankin and Stanback throughout the game.
What Will Happen:  If Stanback really is ready to take the next step, then the Huskies will have the offensive weapon that they’ve lacked since former star QB Cody Pickett graduated.  Davis should make some highlight reel runs, but it won’t be enough to counter what Stanback and the Husky offense will do.

CFN Prediction: Washington 38 ... San Jose State 14 ... Line: Washington -18
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 1.5
Final Score:

WAC Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2