The San Jose State Spartans (4-5, 3-2) will travel eastward a short distance as they take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (5-4, 3-2) in a Mountain West Conference West Division matchup Saturday afternoon. Nevada has won nine of the last 10 meetings, including six in a row; that includes a 21-10 win on the road as a 6.5 point favorite on September 27, 2014 in the most recent matchup.
San Jose State dropped a 17-16 decision to BYU at home last Friday night for their second loss in three games. Nevada has won two straight and three of their last four after defeating Fresno State 30-16 on the road last Thursday. Kickoff from Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nevada is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET and will not be nationally televised. Nevada is currently a 1 point favorite with the over/under set at 52.5 points in this contest.
San Jose State had a chance to tie the game and force overtime after scoring a touchdown with 45 seconds to play. Instead, the Spartans went for the two point conversion and failed, leaving them a point short on the scoreboard. San Jose State was outgained 329-269 and both teams committed one turnover. The Spartans did hold a 19-18 edge in first downs and a 33:19 to 26:41 edge in time of possession while adding a touchdown on an interception return right before the half but couldn’t get the win.
The Spartans are 75th in the nation in passing as they average 217.4 yards per game while they are currently 55th in the nation in rushing with 177.9 yards per contest. San Jose State is pretty much even as far as scoring differential goes as they score 26.3 points per game and stand 66th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 26.4 points per contest. Three quarterbacks have seen action for San Jose State; they have combined to hit 68 percent of their passes for 1,957 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Joe Gray (72 of 104, 837 yards, six TD, 4 INT) and Kenny Potter (106 of 155, 1061 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT, 130 rushing yards, 4 TD) have seen a near even split of reps. Tyler Ervin has been terrific in the ground game with 216 carries for 1,239 yards and 12 scores; Thomas Tucker has 26 carries for 103 yards and two scores. Tyler Winston leads the Spartans with 35 receptions for 368 yards plus two scores while Billy Freeman has 35 grabs for 389 yards and four scores; Ervin has caught 34 balls out of the backfield. Tim Crawley (27 receptions, 266 yards, TD) and Hansell Wilson (23 catches, 281 yards, 2 TD) are excellent secondary options as well. Two San Jose State kickers are 27 of 30 on extra points but only 6 of 11 on field goals this season with a long of 43 yards.
Nevada was only up 17-16 at the half against Fresno State before outscoring the Bulldogs 13-0 after intermission to pull away. The Wolf Pack outgained the Bulldogs 498-280 and dominated the time of possession by holding the ball for 36:18 to Fresno State’s 23:42 in the game. Both teams finished with 18 first downs in the game but Nevada forced four Fresno State turnovers while committing only one miscue in the game. Nevada opened the scoring 1:52 into the game on Matthew Lyons’ 30 yard fumble return for a touchdown.
The Wolf Pack has had their issues moving the ball through the air as they are 109th in passing offense (178.7 yards) while they are currently 17th in rushing offense (220.9 yards per game) this season. Nevada is scoring 26.1 points per game, which is tied for 84th in the nation in scoring offense, while they are currently 63rd in scoring defense by allowing 25.6 points per contest. Tyler Stewart is the starter at quarterback; he’s completed 144 of 246 passes for 1,608 yards with 12 touchdowns and five picks while rushing for 306 yards plus three scores on the ground. The run game is very effective with a pair of good backs: James Butler leads the team with 143 carries for 878 yards plus five touchdowns while Don Jackson is a battering ram with 158 carries for 813 yards and seven touchdowns. Jerico Richardson is the team leader in the passing game for Nevada with 48 catches for 517 yards and four scores; Hassan Henderson (41 grabs, team high 561 yards, 3 TD) and Wyatt Demps (21 catches, 190 yards) are secondary targets. Jarred Gipson has caught 16 passes for 192 yards and four touchdowns when he’s been targeted this season. Brent Zuzo has been near perfect on the year as he has hit all 28 extra points and 13 of 14 field goals this year with a long of 47 yards; his lone miss has come from beyond 50 yards.
Nevada is 5-1 ATS in their last six after picking up at least 450 yards of offense, 4-1 ATS in their last five on fieldturf, 5-2 ATS in their last seven in November and 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall. San Jose State is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 conference games, 3-9 ATS in their last 12 on the road, 2-7 ATS in their last nine against teams with a winning record and 1-5 ATS in their last six in November.
The Wolf Pack has played good football of late as they’ve climbed to within one win of bowl eligibility; a win here would put them in second place in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference behind San Diego State. Of course, the same thing can be said about San Jose State here but the Spartans are pretty much a one man show on offense with Ervin; they don’t have a lot going besides him. Look for Nevada to find a way to grind out the win in a close game here.