Nevada (3-1) at Texas State (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 2:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobcat Stadium (30,000) -- San Marcos, Texas. Television: Longhorn Network. Home Record: Nevada 1-1, Texas State 1-1. Away Record: Nevada 2-0, Texas State 1-0. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-0, Texas State 0-0. Conference Record: Nevada 1-0, Texas State 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A first-ever meeting between the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Texas State Bobcats has the two teams getting together in San Marcos, Texas this weekend.
The Bobcats, a team which has transitioned to the Western Athletic Conference, is finally facing a team that resides outside of the Lone Star State. The team began with a stunning 30-13 victory over Houston in the opener and also picked up a narrow 41-37 triumph versus Stephen F. Austin at home last week. However, the Bobcats did drop a game in between, a 58-10 setback versus Texas Tech which may have been a good lesson to learn early on.
As for the Wolf Pack, now a member of the Mountain West Conference after deserting the WAC, they too lost their second game of the campaign, a narrow 32-31 defeat at the hands of South Florida in the home opener. But already Nevada is a game up on Texas State in the win column thanks to a 69-24 thrashing of Hawaii in Honolulu last Saturday night. The top-scoring team in the MWC with 44.0 ppg, Nevada was virtually unstoppable against the Warriors in the conference opener for both programs, the visitors snapping a seven-game slide against Hawaii on the road and winning for the first time since 1948 out on the island.
The catalyst for the Nevada win over the Warriors was clearly running back Stefphon Jefferson who tied an NCAA record by scoring a total of seven touchdowns. Jefferson ran for six scores and caught another as the Pack ran for a collective 355 yards and seven TDs on 56 attempts. Jefferson, who set a MWC record for TDs in a game, carried the ball 31 times for a game-high 170 yards in the triumph.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo was the perfect complement to the running game as he not only picked up 69 yards on the ground himself, he converted 14-of-20 passes for another 220 yards and two touchdowns. The defense, while a bit too lenient at times against an inexperienced Hawaii offense, did step up and make some timely stops. More specifically, Khalid Wooten announced himself early in the fourth quarter when he intercepted a pass and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown for the Pack.
The pick by Wooten was just the second of the season for the Nevada defense, a unit that has already allowed nine passing scores and an average of 301.3 ypg through the air, which is something that will have to be curtailed if the Pack hopes to be a major player in the race for MWC dominance. The run defense could use some retooling as well, seeing as how it is giving up another 173.5 ypg which means Nevada has one of the weakest overall defenses in the country.
Thankfully, the Pack has been able to compensate for a porous defense with an aggressive offense once again, one that is fourth in the country with 317.8 ypg on the ground. Jefferson, the leading rusher in the country with 174.8 ypg is a big reason for that dominance in the running game, while Fajardo's dual- threat capability is a great addition to an offense that is eighth in the nation with a massive 557.3 ypg.
The Texas State defense was on the field for close to 100 snaps last time out against SFA, yet somehow the Bobcats still figured out a way to come out on top of the visitors nonetheless. Shaun Rutherford was a big part of the offensive attack for the Bobcats as he completed 21-of-26 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns, although nearly one-third of that yardage total came on a single 98-yard TD strike to Isaiah Battle who finished with six catches for 140 yards. Chase Harper added five catches for 48 yards and a couple of scores.
Rutherford also accounted for 48 rushing yards, second-most on the team, and another TD of his own. Honestly, it appeared as though Rutherford and the Bobcats had the game well in hand in the third quarter following a nine-yard TD pass to Harper at the 8:23 mark to put them up 41-17, but then the Texas State offense fumbled the ball away twice, missed a field goal and turned the ball over on downs which made things rather interesting as SFA closed the gap.
For the most part through the first three games of the season, the Texas State offense has started out well but then cooled off after intermission, scoring a mere 17 points combined in the second half thus far. Clearly, if this team hopes to succeed at the FBS level it will need to learn how to keep the pressure on for a full 60 minutes.
Rutherford could be the real deal for the Bobcats, hitting his targets with 68.3 percent accuracy, but again that will be challenged by more aggressive defenses that will have more on the line when it comes to conference play later in the season.
After the effort put forth by the Pack last weekend, is there any reason to believe the visitors won't win this meeting by close to three touchdowns? Jefferson and Fajardo are simply too hard to keep track of, especially for a Texas State team that is still getting its feet wet against the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 42, Texas State 23
09/26 10:32:31 ET