Tale of the Tape: Boise State Broncos at Nevada Wolf Pack
Boise State vs. Nevada
The final week of the regular season is here and for the Mountain West, that means one final chance for two of its premier programs to meet before bowl season. Saturday the Boise State Broncos and the Nevada Wolf Pack will effectively end their conference rivalry before BSU heads to the Big East.
Reno is a four letter word for Broncos fans who had a BCS bowl and a possible national championship appearance taken away after a Wolf Pack come from behind win in 2010. Needless to say both teams are not fond of each other.
The Mountain West has only two games this weekend. The other features the Hawaii Warriors at home opposite the South Alabama Jaguars. All due respect to UH and the fourth best FBS team in Alabama, but I'll keep my attention toward BSU and UNR.
Before the season began, I believed the Nevada and Boise State game could very well be for the Mountain West Championship. While the Broncos have made a valiant effort at the conference title, they cannot overtake Fresno State because of the tie-breaker scenario.
Because of the history of the these two rivals, pride is plenty enough to play for. Before Saturday, let each fighter step onto the scale as we have our official weigh-in.
Here is the tale of the tape for the game. Kickoff is 1:30pm Mountain and will be televised by ABC. Enjoy!
This is a place the Pack should have a clear advantage. I'm not here to bag on Joe Southwick, but I must give credit to the versatility that Cody Fajardo provides. The Nevada quarterback has over 1,000 rushing yards and 2,000 passing yards. Chris Ault's offense depends on an athletic quarterback to make the pistol work. Fajardo is that man.
Stefphon Jefferson is one of the best running backs in country. Unfortunately, playing in Reno isn't going to get him on the viewership radar of writers east of the Mississippi River. Jefferson averages five yards a carry and if you let him, he can put up huge numbers.
The Broncos have settled into a two-headed attack with D.J. Harper and Jay Ajayi. Both compliment each other very well and have an excellent offensive line to run behind. While I believe the "best' back is in Jefferson, the best combo lies in Boise. BSU must contend with Fajard running the ball as well. Nevada averages 263 yards a game. Boise State is about 100 less.
What makes Nevada so dangerous is their offensive balance. While the Wolf Pack rack up a ton of yards on the ground, they also put up solid numbers in the air. Fajardo has a 141.64 efficiency rating. Southwick is sitting at 139.72. Nevada also averages more yards a game through the air. Matt Miller and Kirby Moore are excellent receivers but outside of those two, there isn't a whole lot of production. Nevada has four pass-catchers with over 38 receptions, while the Broncos have one in Miller.
Defensive Front Seven
A stat I love to look at when comparing front sevens is average yards per rush allowed. Clearly the Broncos are superior in this department. Boise State gives up an outstanding 3.4 yards against on the ground. Compare that to the Wolf Pack's 5.1. The Broncos also have 31 sacks while committing only 8. That's a plus 23 rating. Nevada has 19 sacks for with 15 against; a meager plus 4.
Edge: Boise State
When it comes to secondary play, the main concern is keeping the opposing offense in front of the end zone. Tackling in space is critical as well as defending passes attempted. Boise State has another big advantage here. With a mere 9.5 yards allowed per catch compared to Nevada's 12.5, it's easy to see one team is stingier.
The Wolf Pack are last in the Mountain West with four interceptions and the Broncos are second in the conference with 16. Boise State also has more fumble recoveries.
Edge: Boise State
Neither team is impressive in the field goal kicking game. Michael Frisina struggles on any attempt over 30 yards which is a problem. The Broncos senior is 2 of 5 in the 30-39 yard range and 0 for 2 40 yards and beyond. Boise State has surrendered two kickoff returns and Nevada has given up none. Both, however, have yet to return a kick for a score.
Playing in Mackay Stadium is a big plus for the Wolf Pack. This isn't Chris Petersen's first rodeo, and I have a feeling the Broncos remember 2010. Defense travels and BSU has the clear advantage in that arena. Nevada has struggled against the best the conference has to offer. An OT loss to the San Diego State Aztecs and a blowout by the Fresno State Bulldogs.
All things considered this should be another excellent Nevada Boise State meeting. Nevada will make plays offensively but will struggle against the Broncos front seven through four quarters. I just do not trust the Wolf Pack defense. I'm going Boise State.
Prediction: Boise State 31 Nevada 27