WAC Fearless Predictions - Week 2, Part 2

Posted Sep 7, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week two WAC games.

Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State
- Past WAC Predictions: Week One

WAC Week Two Fearless Predictions

New Mexico (0-1) at New Mexico State (1-0) 8:00 PM EST Gameplan Saturday September 9th
Why to Watch:  Rivalry games are always a little more special than your regular Saturday battles. The grass is greener. The crowd is louder. The adrenaline pumps faster.  In this rivalry, the Lobos, winners of five of the last six in the in-state battle, and the Aggies will be meeting for the 97th time.  It’s a chance for the Lobos to redeem themselves after a weird 17-6 loss to D-IAA Portland Stat, while the Aggies and head coach Hal Mumme are looking to build off of the momentum generated with a win in their opener over SE Louisiana 30–15, which ended a 13-game losing streak.
Why ­­­­New Mexico Might Win:  Lobo QB Kole McKamey is still adjusting to new offensive coordinator Bob Toledo, but completed 21 of 36 for 274 against Portland State.  He can be a threat outside of the pocket with his quickness and speed, and he’s developing into a fine passer who shouldn’t have a problem with the porous Aggie secondary.  The Lobo’s physical defensive scheme could force a number of turnovers; the Aggies lost it four times last week.
Why New Mexico State Might Win:  Speaking of quarterbacks, the Aggies may have found a keeper in Chase Holbrook.  All the sophomore did in his debut was go 29 of 40 for 381 yards and two touchdowns while running the Mumme offense better than it ever did all of last year.  Add to that the fact that the two touchdowns that the Lobos gave up against Portland State were passes of 26 and 39 yards, and Mr. Holbrook should be licking his chops.
What Will Happen:  The Lobos miss former star RB DonTrell Moore and have to get more out of their running game.  SE Louisiana’s running backs registered 4.5 yards per carry against the NMSU defense, so expect to see the Lobos force the issue on the ground to take some pressure off of McKamey.  The Aggies will see a myriad of looks from New Mexico head coach Rocky Long and their defense, so expect Mumme to use screen packages to running back Justin Buries to stem that pressure.
Who to Watch:  New Mexico CB DeAndre Wright and Glover Quin could be in pass coverage 75% of the game, and after giving up two big plays last week in the loss to Portland State, they’re even more under the microscope.  Their counterpart, NMSU WR Chris Williams, had a monster game, catching seven passes for 146 yards and one touchdown.  Now, that Williams has Holbrook to throw him the football, he has a chance to catch 85 to 90 passes this season after making only 12 grabs last year.
CFN Prediction: New Mexico 31 … New Mexico State 21
... Line: New Mexico -9
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House)
... 2

Oregon (1-0) at Fresno State (1-0) 10:00 PM EST ESPN2 Saturday September 9th
Why to Watch:  When these two teams tangled last season it was an offensive showcase won by the Kellen Clemens-led Ducks 37 – 34.  But that was in the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium in Eugene and not in the Valley. Coming off a win over Nevada, Fresno State is sky-high and looking to make a national splash to get the buzz generated again about the BCS possibilities. The Ducks possess an explosive offense that should counterbalance the power running of FSU RB Dwayne Wright, but it’s going to be a stiff test before dealing with Oklahoma next week.
Why ­­­­Oregon Might Win:  Give the ball to Jonathan Stewart, give it to him again, and then give it to him again. After a freshman year in which Stewart spent most of the season behind former RB Terrence Whitehead, Stewart made up for lost time by torching Stanford with 168 yards on 22 carries, but he suffered a sprained ankle and might be less than 100% effective. The Ducks have had some good backs, but never one like this.  To stop Wright and the FSU running game, Oregon needs safety Patrick Chung, who’s always around the ball, to be in the right position at all times. If he is, Wright won’t break off any long runs.  
Why Fresno State Might Win:  Give the ball to Dwayne Wright, give it to him again.  There are men running with a purpose, and then there’s Wright, who’s running with so much passion and power that it takes more than one man to bring him down almost every time he touches the ball. If he gets in a groove, Oregon will have to start selling out against the run opening itself up to the deep passes, which should be an issue for the average Duck secondary as the year goes on. On the other side of the ball, the FSU coaching staff believes that LB Dwayne Andrews is the best linebacker in the WAC and could be good enough to neutralize Stewart all by himself.
Who to Watch:  Oregon QB Dennis Dixon, who didn’t have to rotate with Brady Leaf, looked to be more relaxed behind center against Stanford. His continued improvement (70% completion rate against the Cardinal) will allow offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to continue to expand his playbook.  FSU C Kyle Young is the key cog for the Bulldog running game and when they struggle to move the ball, they run behind him with some lead and power isolation runs where he can use his size and strength to get movement.
What Will Happen:  Both teams look to establish the running games to set up the pass, so expect a quicker than usual game.  Don’t be surprised to see the Ducks attack FSU CB Marcus McCauley, who is extremely aggressive, with an out and up or a slant and go to get a quick six up on the board.  The Duck defensive line will have to stem and move up front to disrupt Fresno State’s run blocking assignments, but they can also roll up a safety (Chung more than likely) to help against Wright.  If and when they do that, the pressure is on FSU QB Tom Brandstater to go deep over the top. That’s a plus for the Ducks.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 30 ... Fresno State 20 ... Line: Oregon -4.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 3.5

Nevada (0-1) at Arizona State (1-0) 10:00 PM EST Saturday September 9th
Why to Watch:  The Wolf Pack suffered a difficult 28-19 defeat on the road last week at Fresno State, and now has to follow that up with a visit to the Valley of the Sun to face an Arizona State team looking to rebound after a less-than-impressive  25-14 win over Northern Arizona.  The QB controversy/Dirk Koetter ‘flip flop’ didn’t get a reprieve after last week’s game. In fact it magnified even more with a so-so overall performance from Rudy Carpenter, so he’ll be looking to quickly show that the coaching staff made the right decision. The pressure is on ASU to put more than just a W on the board this week, but that’ll be easier said than done against a team with the firepower to make this a ballgame.
Why ­­­­Nevada Might Win:  The graduation of 2005 WAC offensive player of the year RB B.J Mitchell, on paper, was a huge loss, but Robert Hubbard may be even better.  He ran for 103 yards on 17 carries, a 6.1 yard per carry average, against Fresno State, which was his third 100 yard game in a row dating back to last year’s Fresno State victory. As long as he can keep the ground game going on the untested ASU run D, the Pack has a shot.
Why Arizona State Might Win:  The move to receiver was a stroke of genius for former RB Rudy Burgess.  He caught seven balls for 112 yards against Northern Arizona showing off the quickness and speed to get open anywhere on the field.  Will linebacker Derron Ware was credited with eight tackles, four tackles for a loss and three sacks against NAU, and the pressure he can create with his speed off the edge will create problems for Nevada QB Jeff Rowe. The Pistol offense is all about timing. If Ware throws that off on a consistent basis, the Sun Devils will win and win big.
Who to Watch:  ASU TE Zach Miller has all-world ability, and now he has to show it off and be Carpenter’s main man. How the Wolf Pack game plan to stop the run and slow down Burgess could leave Miller open downfield against linebackers throughout the night creating a colossal mismatch. Nevada S Nick Hawthrone finally got back on the field after being injured last year and provided a physical presence in the middle of the field.  His play is vital to keeping the ASU receivers outside the hashes.
What Will Happen:  Carpenter didn’t play poorly last week against NAU, but not well enough to quiet the storm that raged around his head coach’s surprising change of heart at that QB position.  However, having the opportunity to rely on Burgess out on the perimeter, he’ll settle in quickly against the Nevada secondary.  The Sun Devils running game won’t attack Nevada in the same manner as Fresno State’s did, but it might not matter if the Pack’s tackling, poor at times last Friday night, isn’t improved.  The Sun Devils ran for 154 yards with a myriad of backs but should expand that role against the smallish Wolf Pack defensive front.
CFN Prediction: Arizona State 35 ... Nevada 17 ... Line: Arizona State -14
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 3

WAC Week Two Fearless Predictions