Nevada (3-3) at Boise State (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 19, 8 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bronco Stadium (36,387) -- Boise, Idaho. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Nevada 3-0, BSU 3-0. Away Record: Nevada 0-3, BSU 1-2. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-0, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: Nevada 2-1, BSU 2-1. Series Record: Boise State leads, 26-13.
GAME NOTES: Back in action after a lengthy break, the Nevada Wolf Pack is on the hunt in Idaho this weekend as they take on the Boise State Broncos in Mountain West Conference action.
New Nevada head coach Brian Polian has had his ups and downs through the first six outings of 2013, winning all three homes dates but then bowing in each of the team's three road tests. The Pack has gotten plenty of rest since the last time it was on the playing field, the club having lost to San Diego State on the road in overtime, 51-44, on Oct. 4.
As for the Broncos, a team which was nationally-ranked coming into the campaign, they have had to fight their way back just to earn even a few votes in the rankings after losing to Washington in the opener, 38-6. The team also bowed to Fresno State in a wild 41-40 final last month, but since then BSU has rattled off a couple of victories, albeit against suspect opponents.
Boise State defeated a winless Southern Miss team 60-7 on Sept. 28 and then slipped by Utah State, which was without star quarterback Chuckie Keeton, 34-23, last Saturday on the road.
Head coach Chris Petersen has been unstoppable in October since becoming the leader at Boise State, producing a record of 28-0 during the month. Even better, the Broncos have been unstoppable for more than a decade now during the 10th month, ripping off 49 consecutive wins.
Last season, BSU slipped by Nevada by a score of 27-21, which means the Broncos are now ahead in the all-time series, 26-13. Boise State has won two straight in the series and six consecutive meetings against the Pack at home dating back to 1997.
The Nevada offense begins and ends with the exploits of quarterback Cody Fajardo. Despite missing a couple of games due to injury, the signal caller is still tied for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns, matching the output produced by Kendall Brock. As the one who handles the ball on every snap, Fajardo has done well to pick his spots, landing in the end zone five times on just 58 carries, while Brock has run the ball 100 times thus far.
In the pocket, Fajardo is completing a stellar 68.4 percent of his pass attempts for 296.2 ypg and has seven aerial scores, but he has yet to toss a single interception.
Making Fajardo's job that much easier is Brandon Wimberly who leads the team with 46 catches for 412 yards and five touchdowns. Wimberly has caught at least one pass in each of the 46 games he has appeared at Nevada, not to mention delivering on TD reception in five straight contests as well.
While the Nevada offense can certainly be explosive, it is the defense that can be the most destructive when it comes to trying to push the Pack to a win. After six games the unit ranks 121st in the country in stopping the run, allowing a hefty 267.2 ypg, and because of that the overall numbers show Nevada ranking 117th with 488.3 ypg permitted.
Perhaps most troubling is the fact that the Pack is one of the weakest teams in the country (120th) when it comes to stopping opponents on third down, allowing conversions 50.6 percent of the time.
Considering Utah State was playing without its star quarterback last Saturday, the Broncos almost seemed lucky to get away with the 11-point victory over the Aggies in Logan. Joe Southwick managed to throw for a career-high 335 yards and a pair of touchdowns, hitting 30-of-44 passes for BSU as the team won a second straight outing and the fourth in the last five overall. Southwick was sacked twice and tossed a couple of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, so not all of his efforts were positive in the triumph.
Shane Williams-Rhodes responded with a career-high 13 catches for 150 yards and a score, while Jay Ajayi contributed another 109 yards and a score on the ground. The receptions total for Williams-Rhodes was the most for a BSU player since Tim Gilligan delivered 16 catches versus Louisiana Tech more than a decade ago.
He may not be a household name outside of Idaho, but Southwick has turned into a solid game manager. He doesn't do anything flashy, as he is more geared toward not making mistakes. Entering this week, the quarterback ranked fourth in the nation in completion percentage (.723).
Despite averaging less than nine yards per catch, Williams-Rhodes has made himself into a solid target for Southwick, with the same going for Matt Miller who has 37 catches for a team-best 399 yards and two TDs so far this season.
In recent years, the Boise State defense has been one of the best in the country, but that's just not the case at the moment with the team giving up close to 400 yards per game in total offense and being tied for 47th with 23.8 ppg allowed.
Even though the Broncos appear to have lost a step when it comes to the national rankings, what shouldn't be lost is the fact that BSU has the best home winning percentage (.953) in the nation since the start of the 2000 campaign. Few opposing teams have found success on the blue turf, and Nevada doesn't appear to be on the right track for this weekend either.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 35, Nevada 24
10/16 10:32:54 ET