Nevada vs. Fresno State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs.
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Mackay Stadium, Reno, Nevada
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
After getting out to a 2-1 start, head coach Brian Polian’s Wolf Pack has not been able to find a winning brand of football in the past two weeks. A Week 4 loss on the road at Purdue, 24-14, was followed up last weekend with a 38-17 loss at Hawaii. Nevada didn’t break into the end zone until the fourth quarter, and by that time the Rainbow Warriors already had the game wrapped up.
Fresno State has had a rougher go of it this season — but not by much. The Bulldogs picked up their first win of the season in Week 2 over Sacramento State, 31-3. Since then, Mike DeRuyter’s team has lost three straight games. Losses to Toledo and Tulsa were followed by last week’s defeat against UNLV, 45-20. The Bulldogs fell behind in the second quarter and were never able to make it a game.
Fresno State leads the all-time series with Nevada, 27-19. The Wolf Pack snapped a three-game losing streak last year when it took down the Bulldogs in Fresno, 30-16.
What To Know About Nevada
Quarterback Tyler Stewart had an average game last weekend, having completed 19-of-33 passes for 203 yards with a touchdown. He spread the ball around well. Eight different players caught a pass. However, it was Wyatt Demps who was on the receiving end of Stewart’s lone touchdown pass. Demps caught four balls for 53 yards.
The running game was much more effective in moving the chains. James Butler was given 21 carries, and he took them for 168 yards to improve his season total to 553 rushing yards. He wasn’t able to cross the plane against Hawaii, but Butler has five rushing touchdowns already this season. He had 10 in 2015.
What to Know About Fresno State
The Bulldogs simply weren’t able to get the running game going last weekend. Dontel James took 18 carries for 53 yards. That’s just not going to get it done.
Fresno State was able to move the ball through the air at times, but the consistency wasn’t there. Quarterback Chason Virgil completed 16-of-45 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Aaron Peck came up big whenever he was on the receiving end of a Virgil pass. He caught five balls for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Offense: Nevada – The Bulldogs are coming off an extremely inefficient game both on the ground and in the air. The Wolf Pack gets the edge.
Defense: Nevada – Neither team is stout defensively. Both rank outside the top 100 in total defense. But this goes to the Wolf Pack for having forced eight fumbles to Fresno State’s zero.
Special Teams: Fresno State – This one goes to the Bulldogs because Kody Kroening has been solid kicking the ball, and Dejonte O’Neal is dynamite in the kick return game.
Coaching: Nevada – Neither coach is having a great time right now, but Polian gets the nod for his experience and because DeRuyter hasn’t had a winning season since Derek Carr left.
Matchup To Watch
Tyler Stewart vs. Chason Virgil
Clearly, Stewart was the better, more efficient quarterback last weekend. But let’s see what happens in this one. Virgil could step it up and fire on all cylinders. What’s for sure is he’ll need to take care of the ball against the Wolf Pack. If Stewart can spread the wealth and also create with his legs when he has to, Nevada will be in great shape.
Spread: Nevada -9.5
Nevada vs. Fresno State Prediction
Stewart is going to win the quarterback battle with Virgil. He’ll toss a touchdown pass in the first half and help Nevada get out to an early lead that it will carry into halftime. Butler will do damage on the ground, too. He’ll get a sizable workload and will hit the century mark while finding the end zone. Virgil will get picked off at least once. Fresno State will lose the field position battle, and it will ultimately end up costing the Bulldogs the game, too.
Nevada vs. Fresno State Score Prediction: Nevada 34, Fresno State 17