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WAC Fearless Predictions - Nov. 4

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 1, 2006


Preview and predictions for the week ten WAC games


WAC  
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 | Week 7 | Week 8Week 9
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How are the picks so far? SU 47-6   ATS 30-16

WAC Game of the Week

Fresno State (1-6) at Boise State (8-0) 8:00 PM EST ESPN2 Wednesday November 1
Why to Watch
:  At the outset of the season, similar to almost every other year prior to 2006, this appeared to be the WAC championship. Things have changed a wee bit since.  Well, at least, Boise State held up its end of the bargain.  At 8-0, the Broncos have taken control of the WAC championship race, but it hasn’t been a total cakewalk needing a full 60 minutes to put away Idaho in the Kibbie Dome 42-26. If Fresno State isn’t the biggest disappointment in college football, it’s a close second (thank you Colorado!) losing six straight including a 38-6 blowout in Baton Rouge against LSU last week. Although the season is all but lost for the Bulldogs, nothing can ease the pain of six straight losses more than knocking off the undefeated Broncos on their own Smurf Turf in front of a national television audience.  However, to maintain momentum for a possible Fiesta Bowl trip, the Broncos won’t be caught looking past their main conference rival, no matter what the records are.
Why Fresno State Might Win: It’s FSU’s last shot at glory this season.  The opportunity to get six wins to become bowl eligible is minute, but remotely possible needing five straight wins.  With the quarterback situation changing hands midway through the season, not much has remained consistent within the Bulldog offense, except for the offensive line and RB Dwayne Wright.  The Bulldog star struggled against the stout LSU defense (42 yards on 15 carries), but he’s capable of carrying the offense with 25 to 30 carries running behind his quintet up front.  The Bulldogs can’t allow Boise State to dominate time of possession, but they’ll get some help from their 12th defender Wright, so to speak, to keep BSU’s potent offense off the field.
Why Boise State Might Win:  No WAC team (1984 BYU excluded) has had more at stake over the last few games of the season than Chris Petersen’s squad.  $14 million dollars, a trip to the Fiesta Bowl and a top ten ranking are all on the line each time the Broncos take the field.  The defense is the best in the conference giving up only 311 yards per game ranking ninth in the nation against the run yielding only 76 yards per game.  Fresno State completely shut down the running game in last year’s contest, holding BSU to 104 yards rushing (67 yards on one play), but this year’s defense gave up nearly six yards per carry to LSU’s running game.  Expect to see Ian Johnson about 25 times, if for no other reason than to prove that last year was a fluke.
Who to Watch:  The one-on-one contest between FSU DE Tyler Clutts and Boise State tackle Ryan Clady won’t only a fun battle to watch, it’s a vital matchup.  Throughout the year, Clady and his offensive line have dominated at the point of attack, most importantly on the perimeter, allowing Johnson to run downhill and pick his running lanes.  Clutts is more pass rusher than run stopper, but this week, he’s got to hold his own against Clady to force Johnson to bounce his runs to secondary support.  If not?  Remember what happened to Oregon State?  Enough said.
What Will Happen:  The Bulldogs haven’t fared well in Boise in past years and this year will be no different.  Although the sense of urgency will motivate them to play well early, the Broncos’ running game will put the Bulldog front seven on its heels throughout the game.  BSU quarterback Jared Zabransky will then pick holes in the FSU secondary on play action routes for a couple TDs and 250+ yards passing in a convincing Bronco win.
CFN Prediction: Boise State 48 … Fresno State 17 ... Line: Boise State -26
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Running with Scissors) ...
2.5

Hawaii (6-2) at Utah State (1-7) 3:00 PM EST ESPN+ Saturday November 4
Why to Watch:  How many teams in the nation have scored 68 points in one game this season?  Okay, now how many have done it twice in three weeks?  One.  In what must qualify as one of the best offensive ‘runs’ in quite some time, the Warriors are putting on an offensive clinic, week in and week out.  After torching Fresno State for 68 on the road three weeks ago, the Warriors hit that magic number again last weekend on the Island as they pounded Idaho 68-10 and are now averaging 54 points per outing over the last four games.  That’s not good news for a Utah State team that gave up 48 points in its last game…to Louisiana Tech.  The good news for the Aggies is that Hawaii has to get on the plane and travel to Utah, where Utah State beat Fresno State the last time it played at home.  Déjà vu all over again?  Against Hawaii and its offense?  Well....
Why Hawaii Might Win: There’s a point where the stats and numbers become so overwhelmingly obscene that it’s hard to comprehend how good this Hawaii offense actually is.  Quarterback Colt Brennan completed 31 of 38 for 333 yards and five touchdowns against Idaho (2,934 yards and 33 touchdowns on the season) and didn’t even play a full game.  Utah State’s pass defense has improved throughout the season, but the D is still ranked 88th in the nation against five touchdown performance.  But, for as good as the offense was against Idaho, the defense made a statement as well, shutting out Idaho in the second half, yielding only ten total points.
Why Utah State Might Win:  The insertion of freshman Riley Nelson into the starting lineup at quarterback has paid big dividends for the Aggies.  He did throw two picks against Louisiana Tech, but he also threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldog defense.  After spending much of the season with the worst offense in the nation, the Aggies have averaged 313 yards total offense per game since Nelson took over in the win over Fresno State.  Although the Warriors gave up only ten points to Idaho last week, they’re giving up nearly 400 yards of total offense per game.  Nelson’s dual threat abilities could keep Brennan and his offense off the field.
Who to Watch:  Utah State receiver Kevin Robinson torched Louisiana Tech for 141 yards receiving on only six catches, two of which went for touchdowns.  The Aggies can’t win a track meet with the sprinters on the other side of the field, but Nelson has a weapon that can stretch the Warrior defense vertically.  Robinson can put downfield pressure on Hawaii safety Leonard Peters and the Hawaii secondary, especially against man coverage.
What Will Happen:  The Aggies may be able to put a couple of touchdowns on the board, but there’s not a defense in this conference that has a chance of stopping Brennan and his offensive circus.  Keep an eye on Hawaii running back Nate Ilaoa, who should have a solid all-around game to take some pressure off of Brennan and the passing game.  The high flyin’ Warriors keep it going on the road. 
CFN Prediction: Hawaii 52 … Utah State 17 ... Line: Hawaii -29
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Running with Scissors) ...
1.5

Nevada (5-3) at Idaho (4-5) 5:00 PM EST Saturday November 4
Why to Watch:  Nevada has played as well as any team in this league the last six games of the season.  Since starting the season 0-2, Chris Ault’s crew has won five of the last six and was within three yards of knocking off uber-powerful Hawaii in the only loss of the stretch.  Last weekend, the Wolf Pack scored an impressive 48-21 victory last week over Hal Mumme’s New Mexico State Aggies, while Dennis Erickson’s Vandals ran into the Hawaii buzzsaw on the Island, losing 68-10.  The last time the Vandals were at home, they battled Boise State into the fourth quarter before succumbing late in the game 42-26.  After two consecutive losses, bowl hopes for Idaho are dwindling fast.  Nevada, on the other hand, is one win away from bowl eligibility, but a loss to Idaho could seriously damage any bowl opportunities.
Why Nevada Might Win: No team has handled the New Mexico State offense as well as Nevada did last week.  The Wolf Pack allowed 295 total yards and held NMSU quarterback Chase Holbrook to only 217 yards passing, but most importantly, the Wolf Pack forced five turnovers (three picks, two fumbles), giving the football back to their diverse, “Pistol” offense to take control of the clock and the game.  Nevada running back Robert Hubbard took advantage of the extra possessions to pile up 114 yards on 28 carries.  Idaho has struggled stopping the run, yielding 146 yards per game, so Hubbard and Brandon Fragger could combine to run the Vandals off the field.
Why Idaho Might Win:  With the game taking place within the friendly confines of the Kibbie Dome, the Vandals will give themselves a chance to win the game.  Against Boise State, Idaho got the champs on the ropes but couldn’t deliver a knockout blow. Even in the loss, the team proved it could play at home.  To pull off the win, Steven Wichman has to pick apart the Wolf Pack’s 68th ranked pass defense, which he has shown throughout the year that he can do when he’s throwing on rhythm.
Who to Watch:  The Nevada quarterback situation has been unsettled lately with starting QB Jeff Rowe suffering from some nagging injuries.  Last week against New Mexico State, Rowe returned, but threw two interceptions, while backup Travis Moore, who led the Wolf Pack to a huge win over San Jose State, also threw a pick.  Nick Graziano also saw some playing time, completing seven of nine passes along with one touchdown.  Rowe is clearly the starter, but another couple of turnovers in the passing game and he might be watching the other two a little bit more than last weekend.
What Will Happen:  It won’t matter who’s playing quarterback for the Wolf Pack with Hubbard and the Nevada running game running roughshod over the 104th ranked Idaho defense.  Nevada will control the ball and the clock forcing Idaho into catch-up mode early in the game.
CFN Prediction: Nevada 38 … Idaho 17 ... Line: Nevada -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Running with Scissors) ...
2

Louisiana Tech (2-6) at North Texas (2-6) 7:00 PM EST Saturday November 4
Why to Watch:  It’s unusual for a non-conference game to take place in November, but the Bulldogs travel west across the border to Denton.  When these two met last season, Tech dominated the offensively challenged Mean Green 40-14, but neither team seems capable of dominating the other this year.  Both teams are coming off of a loss – North Texas lost a 14-6 defensive struggle to Troy, while Louisiana Tech was throttled by San Jose State 48-10.  A bowl game isn’t on either team’s December itinerary, but a win helps soothe the pain of a sub-.500 season.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win:  Throughout the season, the Bulldogs have faced some of the nation’s most explosive offenses – Texas A&M, Clemson and Boise State (and Hawaii’s on deck).  Suffice to say, North Texas’s offense is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  The Mean Green has the worst offense in the nation, averaging just over 206 yards per game, even with star RB Jamario Thomas in the backfield.  North Texas’s paltry offense is a welcome respite for the Bulldog defense, a unit that is…
Why North Texas Might Win:  …the worst in the nation in total defense.  The Bulldogs have been shredded on the ground by all comers this season.  The defense is ranked second to last in the nation against the run, yielding 244 yards per game.  Thomas hasn’t had near as many opportunities this year, even in Sun Belt conference play, to find seams in the defense and pile up yards as he did two years ago as a true freshman.  If he can get loose against the Bulldogs, as San Jose State’s Yonus Davis did last weekend (199 yards rushing), the rotating Mean Green quarterbacks will have less to do.  And, that’s good news…for many different reasons.
Who to Watch:  The Bulldog running backs, Daniel Porter, William Griffin and Patrick Jackson, combined for 41 yards of rushing against San Jose State, forcing the Bulldog defense to stay on the field for over 35 minutes of game action.  That sub par performance came one week after Porter ran through, around and over Utah State’s defense, to the tune of nearly 200 yards on the ground.  North Texas is ranked only 89th in the nation against the run, so Porter and company must take advantage of facing a less-than average run defense.
What Will Happen
:  Neither team will light up the scoreboard, but if the Bulldogs running backs move the chains early in the game, QB Zac Champion will be able to use his speedy wide receivers to get behind the Mean Green secondary for a quick six, or two.
CFN Prediction: Louisiana Tech 28 … North Texas 10 ... Line: North Texas -3
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Running with Scissors) ...
1.5

San Jose State (5-2) at New Mexico State (2-6) 8:00 PM EST Saturday Nov. 4
Why to Watch:  One team has designs on a bowl game – which would be the program’s first since 1990, while the other has one of the most explosive offenses in the conference.  The Spartans got back on the winning track with a decisive 48-10 win over Louisiana Tech, one week after being throttled by Nevada on the road 23-7.  New Mexico State, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as fortunate last weekend losing its fourth WAC game in a row to streaking Nevada 48-21. Dick Tomey’s surprising Spartans must win to keep pace with Boise State and Hawaii, especially with games against the two WAC powers in consecutive weeks after this game in Las Cruces.
Why San Jose State Might Win:  If you were to name the top ten rushing attacks in the nation, would you ever think that San Jose State would be in that elite group?  Well, think again.  Behind quicksilver running back Yonus Davis, the Spartans are averaging 208 yards per game and are ranked tenth in the nation in rushing.  Davis lit up Louisiana Tech for 199 yards on only 13 carries and two touchdowns, while that wasn’t even half of the total the Spartans registered against the Bulldogs (476 yards total).  The Aggies haven’t been roughed up quite that way this season, but the Spartan runners will come at them in waves, starting with the WAC Offensive Player of the Week, Davis, making life extremely difficult for the New Mexico State defense.
Why New Mexico State Might Win:  The Aggies won’t let the Spartans run and hide.  With Mumme’s Air Raid offense, they can stay in the game, no matter how many points the Spartans put up on the board.  If it turns into a track meet, that might be the best news for the Aggie offense.  However, it’s the Aggie defense that must turn the tide of the game by putting maximum pressure on Spartan quarterback Adam Tafralis.  The Spartan signal caller has shown a propensity for turnovers when opponents get heat on him and the New Mexico State defense picked off Nevada QB Jeff Rowe twice last weekend.
Who to Watch:  NMSU linebacker Tim McManigal has been a one-man show on defense this season.  He leads the team with 72 tackles, six tackles for a loss and a sack and a half.  Last weekend against Nevada, he had 11 total tackles, two for a loss and a 60-yard pick six.  The versatile defender will see plenty of the Spartan running game on Saturday, but he’s more than capable of stopping either run or pass.
What Will Happen:  Although he left the Nevada game with a myriad of injuries, Holbrook should get back into the lineup.  Whether he does or doesn’t get under center, though, San Jose State will force a couple of interceptions that’ll put Davis and the Spartan offense on the field for 35 minutes of time of possession.  The Spartan offensive line will control the line of scrimmage from the start.
CFN Prediction: San Jose State 38 … New Mexico State 23 ... Line: San Jose State -6
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Running with Scissors) ...
2