Fresno State (7-3) at Nevada (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 10:35 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (29,993) -- Reno, Nevada. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: FSU 5-0, Nevada 2-2. Away Record: FSU 2-3, Nevada 4-1. Neutral Record: FSU 0-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: FSU 5-1, Nevada 3-2. Series Record: Fresno State leads, 24-18-1.
GAME NOTES: After a dismal 2011 campaign, Fresno State made the jump to the Mountain West Conference and hired a new head coach, a combination that has proven fruitful for the Bulldogs now that they are tied for first place in the league standings.
This weekend FSU takes on another former member of the Western Athletic Conference as it tangles with the Nevada Wolf Pack in MWC action at Mackay Stadium in Reno.
Fresno State started off the 2012 campaign a bit shaky with an even split through the first four games under coach Tim DeRuyter, but since then the team has rattled off five wins in six opportunities. Last week, FSU dismantled Hawaii at home in a 45-10 decision, marking the program's first three-game win streak in two seasons. Should the Bulldogs win at Nevada it will be the team's first four-game win streak since the 2009 campaign.
With Boise State's loss to San Diego State last weekend, the Bulldogs are now tied with the Aztecs for first place in the conference standings at 5-1.
Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack is coming off a bye week following a loss to Air Force, 48-31, on the road back on Oct. 26. The defeat was the second in a row for a team that had put together a five-game win streak after bowing by a single point to South Florida (32-31) in the second game of the season. Nevada sits at 3-2 in conference play, which places the team in sole possession of fifth place in the standings.
Last year, when both teams were still members of the WAC, Nevada slipped by with a 45-38 win, but the team continues to trail in the all-time series nonetheless, 24-18-1, according to Nevada records. The Pack has won four straight in the series, with the teams scoring no less than 66 combined points in each of the last five encounters.
Going up against an ailing program like Hawaii, the Bulldogs were easily a favorite last week at home, but no one could have foreseen the team generating 428 yards and six scores in the first half before pulling the first-team offense. Derek Carr converted 15-of-23 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns as he became just the second quarterback in program history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in two separate seasons.
On the ground it was Robbie Rouse who ran for 102 yards and a score on just 13 attempts as he became the first running back in school history to produce three seasons with at least 1,000 yards as he continues to add to his school record for total rushing yards in a career.
Defensively, it wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that the Bulldogs allowed Hawaii to get into the end zone and by then the starters were already long gone. Todd Hunt finished with just three total tackles, but two were behind the line of scrimmage, including a sack, while also recording a forced fumble.
The pass efficiency defense has a rating of 99.97 which is not only second- best in the conference, it is the ninth-best mark in the entire nation at the moment at a lot of that has to do with the team's ability to come up with turnovers. Thanks in part to at least one interception in seven straight games, the Bulldogs lead the country with 17 picks.
Doing his share to capitalize on the strong play of the defense, Carr has thrown at least three TD passes in five of the last six games and six times overall on the season. The signal-caller has tossed a total of 30 TDs and only six INTs on close to 400 attempts which means he has one of the best efficiency ratings outside of the BCS teams.
Nevada, which has lost a pair of home dates by just a combined two points, has the top running back in the nation in Stefphon Jefferson who is averaging 149.0 ypg, but since opening the season with five straight games with at least 135 yards, he has failed to reach triple figures in two of the last four outings.
Part of what makes Jefferson successful is the play of quarterback Cody Fajardo who has missed some time due to injury but is now back in the saddle. Operating the Pistol Offense, Fajardo has passed for close to 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns and also run for another 655 yards and 10 scores which means opponents have to keep their eyes on the quarterback to make sure he is held to minimal yardage when he elects to tuck and run.
Scoring 39.6 ppg, the Pack can certainly light up the scoreboard, but at the same time they are allowing 31.9 ppg and that's not helping matters. Hindering the team's attack is the inability to generate tackles for loss, logging just 4.2 per game which is last in the conference and 114th in the country.
With Carr getting more and more comfortable driving the Fresno State offense, keeping up and surpassing a team like Nevada doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 45, Nevada 35
11/07 10:38:15 ET