WAC Fearless Predictions - Week 7

Posted Oct 11, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week seven WAC games

Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State
- Past WAC Predictions: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
Week 5 | Week 6 | Get Tickets for These Games

How are the picks so far? SU 35-6   ATS 21-13

WAC Game of the Week

Hawaii (3-2) at Fresno State (1-4) 5:00 PM EST Gameplan Saturday October 14
Why to Watch:  Since a win over Boise State last season, Fresno State is a disastrous 1-8, including the shocking loss at Utah State last week 13-12 to hit rock bottom.  Yet, it can still run the table and win the WAC for the first time under Pat Hill if it can turn that frown upside down and start playing up to its talent level.  However, the road to the top is a lot tougher when it includes a battle against the pass happy Warriors who are bombing away on everyone.  June Jones’ Warriors kept Nevada out of the end zone late in the game to win a 41-34 shootout, picking up their first WAC win of the year in the process, and has an offense playing as well as any in the country.  Playing at home suits Hawaii well, going 3-0 at home this season and averaging 43 points per game, and now it has to prove it can win on the road after losing at Alabama and Boise State early on.
Why Hawaii Might Win: Is Fresno State going to stay in its funk? The Bulldogs should've been able to walk on the field without pads on and beat Utah State; to lose that game suggests a mental block that the team might not be able to overcome.  QB Colt Brennan continues to light up the sky averaging 385 yards passing per game along with 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions, and he has the potential to run the Bulldogs out of the building right off the bat.  Fresno State couldn’t stop Utah State freshman QB Riley Nelson last week, so facing Brennan and the run and shoot is going to be a nightmare.
Why Fresno State Might Win:  The good news about hitting the bottom is that there’s nowhere else to go but up.  The Bulldogs have gotten solid rushing performances from RB Dwayne Wright, who’s seventh in the nation in rushing averaging 133 yards per game, and a pass defense that's not all that bad.  Hawaii has struggled stopping the run and could get knocked off its rhythm if Wright controls the clock and the tempo. Forget about FSU QB being under any pressure. The Bulldogs don't allow sacks, and Hawaii has no pass rush.
Who to Watch:  NFL scouts think that CB Marcus McCauley is due to be a first round NFL draft choice come April, but the hype won’t help him this week against the Hawaii unless he comes up with a marvelous game when locked one-on-one with Davone Bess, the nation's leading receiver.  Last year, Bess caught 14 passes against the Bulldogs for 158 yards, while Brennan sliced them up with 327 yards. 
What Will Happen:  Brennan will continue to use the run and shoot as a controlled offensive weapon to pick apart the Fresno State defense.  However, the key to Brennan’s success should be RB Nate Ilaoa, who had 151 yards rushing against Nevada.  He won’t run wild, but he’ll keep the Bulldog defense honest and off-balanced.
CFN Prediction: Hawaii 34 … Fresno State 21 ... Line: Hawaii -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ...

Idaho (3-3) at Louisiana Tech (1-4) 7:00 PM EST Saturday October 14
Why to Watch:  The Vandals were 1-3 after their four non-conference games and didn’t appear to be a true threat for a WAC championship.  Now, all of a sudden, they're  tied for first place in the conference thanks to wins over Utah State and New Mexico State.  Yeah, Dennis Erickson's club might have beaten the dregs of the league, but being .500 overall for the first time since 200 is a big accomplishment. Louisiana Tech, on the other hand, hasn’t been as fortunate going through a brutal three game stretch losing to Texas A&M, Clemson and WAC foe Boise State by a combined  score of 151-28.  The Bulldogs finally get a chance play a home game, but they can't assume this will be a walk in the park.  An Idaho win sets up a first place battle against rival Boise State next week, while a Louisiana Tech win leaves the Broncos alone in first place in the conference.
Why Idaho Might Win: The Vandals needed QB Steven Wichman to have a huge game to knock off NMSU and he gave them that, and then some completing over 70% of his passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns.  Considering the fact that the Bulldog defense is ranked 93rd in the nation against the pass, Wichman stands to have another strong passing performance and should be able to keep the chains moving.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win:  The experience of playing some of the nation’s upper echelon teams has to pay off for Louisiana Tech.  After taking on Nebraska, Texas A&M, Clemson and Boise State, the Bulldogs should be prepared to play the game at a much faster rate than Idaho.  That difference in speed should manifest itself in the passing game, where Bulldog QB Zac Champion will face an awful Idaho secondary that hasn't slowed down anyone so far.
Who to Watch:  Although Idaho RB Jayson Bird, if his shoulder is healthy enough for him to play, will continue to be the workhorse for the Vandals, Brian Flowers ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns last week against New Mexico State.  The JUCO transfer has scored three rushing touchdowns in the last two games and his slashing style complements Bird’s power running extremely well.
What Will Happen:  Although Tech finally gets a home game, the Vandals have too much balance for the 118th ranked Bulldog defense.  Bird, if healthy, and Flowers will combine for 150 yards rushing, while Wichman will have another stellar day, helping keep the Vandals in first place.
CFN Prediction: Idaho 31 … Louisiana Tech 27 ... Line: Louisiana Tech -2
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ...

Utah State (1-5) at San Jose State (3-1) 6:00 PM EST Saturday October 14
Why to Watch:  The Spartans are the only WAC team that hasn’t played a conference game yet, but they’ve had two weeks to prepare for Utah State’s visit to get off to a solid start.  With three straight wins and looking for the program's first four-game streak since 1991, Dick Tomey has his made this team one of the big surprises so far. The Aggies, on the other hand, have a streak of their own to protect winning one in a row after shocking Fresno State 13-12 with a freshman QB starting for the first time. As strange as this might sound, beating San Jose State would be a huge leap forward for Brent Guy's struggling program.
Why Utah State Might Win: After not scoring an offensive touchdown for four weeks, just getting on the board last week against FSU seemed like a task, much less winning, but behind freshman QB Riley Nelson, the Aggies posted one of the biggest upsets of the first half of the season.  Nelson threw the game winner with 55 seconds left in the game, and the confidence gained might turn the team’s fortunes in the positive direction.  Nelson’s effectiveness in the passing game helps take the focus off of RB Marcus Cross, who faces a Spartan defensive unit ranked 105th in the nation stopping the run.
Why San Jose State Might Win:  The Spartan offense makes it exceptionally difficult to focus solely on either pass or run.  San Diego State slowed down RB Yonus Davis and the running game holding SJSU to 136 yards rushing, but QB Adam Tafralis completed over 80% of his passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns.  When Tafralis has struggled, Davis has dominated running behind his offensive line.  The versatile Spartan offense shouldn’t have much trouble against a Utah State defense that is ranked 103rd in the nation in total defense
Who to Watch:  San Jose State CB Dwight Lowery leads the nation with seven interceptions and will be a huge thorn in Nelson’s side.  The rookie may not want to test the JUCO transfer Lowery and become another notch on his interception belt on his way to what should be a few Midseason All-America nods.
What Will Happen:  The euphoria of last week’s upset win for Utah State will be replaced by the reality of having a freshman quarterback at the helm.  Nelson ran the ball well against Fresno State and that’ll help his confidence early in the game, but the Spartans will force the youngster into turnovers when pressing with the passing game.  The Spartan offense will get another productive performance from Tafralis, who'll throw for over 300 yards.
CFN Prediction: San Jose State 34 … Utah State 13 ... Line: San Jose State -14
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ...

Boise State (6-0) at New Mexico State (2-3) 8:05 AM EST ESPN Sunday Oct. 15
Why to Watch:  With a national television audience tuning in and the undefeated Broncos coming to town, Hal Mumme’s Aggies have a great opportunity to turn the WAC upside down in what should be a blast of an offensive game. NMSU is coming off of a tough loss 28-20 at Idaho last week, but return home to Las Cruces where it's outscored opponents 106-63 so far and has the firepower to make this interesting.  However, the 20th ranked Broncos present a multitude of problems for the Aggies averaging 44 points in their last three games against Hawaii, Utah and Louisiana Tech and don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. This will be fun.
Why Boise State Might Win: Pick a weapon, any weapon.  RB Ian Johnson continues to run amok averaging 134 yards per game behind an offensive line that's dominating in every phase, but the attack will go to another level if QB Jared Zabransky continues to play as he did last week against Louisiana Tech.  The senior QB threw for two touchdowns, completed over 60% of his throws, and ran for two scores. On the other side of the ball, the secondary, long a sticking point, is playing better than it has in years. It had a few issues with Hawaii's passing game, but it held up well until late.
Why New Mexico State Might Win:  The Aggies are clearly a one-trick pony at this point, but that pony is pretty good with the nation's best passing game averaging 422 yards per game.  Behind the leadership and production of QB Chase Holbrook, who has thrown for 2,053 yards and 16 touchdowns in five games, the Aggies have an offense built for shootouts and comebacks. Yes, Boise State kept Hawaii's passing game in check for about 45 minutes, but Colt Brenan still finished with 388 yards and five touchdowns.
Who to Watch:  Boise State WRs Jerard Rabb, Legedu Naanee and Drisan James often get lost in the shuffle when discussing the Boise State offense, but this trio can blow this game wide open.  The Aggies have one of the worst pass defenses in the nation (112th in the nation) and should have a nightmare of a time keeping the Bronco passing game in check. That'll only allow for bigger holes for Johnson to run through.
What Will Happen:  Zabransky will continue to spread the wealth, but he’ll also attack the weak New Mexico State secondary deep downfield.  On the other side of the ball, the Broncos will get maximum pressure on Holbrook and force three turnovers that’ll end the competitive phase of this game after the first half.
CFN Prediction: Boise State 50 … New Mexico State 21 ... Line: Boise State -26.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ...