Jul 22, 2019

Bulldog Game Day

Darrell James / Special to The Collegian

Fresno State Bulldogs (5-3, 2-2 WAC) vs. Nevada Wolf Pack (4-4, 2-2 WAC)

Breakdown: Bulldogs

Coming off their first road loss of the season last weekend to Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs will need to rebound this week and protect their home turf.

Fresno State is 1-2 at home this season and will need to win to stay above the .500 mark in the Western Athletic Conference. The major hurdle the Bulldogs must overcome to save the season – Nevada’s rushing attack.

The Wolf Pack rush offense averages more than 300 yards per game and has yet to be stopped. The Bulldog defense needs to focus on outside contain, especially on the quarterback read-option play.

Fresno State’s defense is strong in the middle with tackle Jon Monga, but will need strong performances from its outside linebackers.

The Bulldog offense will be without tailback Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller is questionable. Fresno State will rely on Anthony Harding.

Harding is third on the team with 57 yards per game.

The Bulldogs and the Wolf Pack are in almost the same place with four games remaining. Tonight’s game could decide which team makes the postseason and who hears those two dreaded words – “Next year.”

Breakdown: Wolf Pack

The Nevada Wolf Pack is at a crossroads in its season right now.

At 2-2 in the WAC and 4-4 overall, the Wolf Pack is two wins away from a bowl game and could move up in the conference race or the exact opposite direction.

Nevada is coming off a bye week, but lost at Hawaii in the team’s last game two weeks ago.

Although Nevada is at .500 in the conference, Chris Ault’s pistol offense is flourishing under the guidance of sophomore quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The Wolf Pack offense ranks first in the WAC, averaging 37.9 points per game and 305.6 yards rushing per game.

Kaepernick is a dual-threat quarterback for the Wolf Pack and can beat defenses with either his feet or arm.

He leads the conference in total offense, averaging 284.1 yards per game.

Defensively, the Wolf Pack owns the best rushing defense, but is susceptible in the passing game.

Nevada has the worst pass defense, allowing 327.5 yards per game, but only surrenders 69.5 yards per game on the ground.

Ault is going for his 200th career win tonight.

Juan Villa / Collegian File Photo

A Wolf in sheep’s clothing…

Nevada Player to Watch:
Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback

Wins against: Grambling, UNLV, Idaho, Utah State
Losses to: Texas Tech, Missouri, New Mexico State, Hawaii
Head coach: Chris Ault (25th season, 199-93-1)
Offense: The Pistol
Defense: 40 Front
Key players: RB Vai Taua, WR Marko Mitchell, FS Uche Anyanwu
Series record: Fresno State leads 24-13-1
Last meeting: Last season – Fresno State won 49-41 at Nevada
Point Spread: Fresno State is favored by 1.5 points

Keys to Victory

1. Contain the read option.
It’s pretty simple for the Bulldogs. Nevada likes to run outside and Fresno State has not proven it can stop sweeps or options.

2. Air it out.
Nevada has the worst pass defense in the conference. Tom Brandstater needs to exploit this and break the 300-yard mark.

3. Play with desperation.
Fresno State is coming off a demoralizing loss and could fall out of bowl contention with a loss. The Bulldogs need to play with a fire.

Darrell James / Special to The Collegian

Position match ups

Fresno State Player to Watch:
Anthony Harding, Tailback

When Fresno State runs:
Advantage – Nevada
Ryan Mathews is out and Lonyae Miller will be limited tonight. The Wolf Pack is the No. 1 run defense in the WAC.

When Nevada runs:
Advantage – Nevada
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and tailback Vai Taua are the top two runners in the conference. The Wolf Pack lead the WAC in rushing.

When Fresno State passes:
Advantage – Fresno State
Nevada’s pass defense is the worst in the conference and Tom Brandstater should be able to capitalize.

When Nevada passes:
Advantage – Fresno State
Nevada’s offense relies heavily on the run and only averages a little more than 200 yards per game in the air.

Special teams:
Advantage – Nevada
It’s been the same story all year for Fresno State in this department. Last week against Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs gave up a punt return touchdown and fumbled on the opening kickoff.

By Jimmy Graben and Logan Hopkins / The Collegian

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