NEVADA WOLF PACK (3-2) at SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (1-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: San Diego State -6 & 50.5
Opening Line & total: Aztecs -4 & 58
Nevada will play a game in its sixth straight week on Friday night and attempt to move to 3-0 in conference play, but has to visit a San Diego State team with momentum and new faces at the top of its depth chart.
While the records of these two teams may paint one picture, the underlying stats and recent events of the teams may tell another. This season has been a surprise for Nevada, whom after going 4-4 in conference play last year, will look to move to 3-0 in the Mountain West Conference. On the other hand, San Diego State is coming off a 2012 season where it shared the conference championship with Fresno State and Boise State, but got off to a very slow start in 2013 with losses in the first three games of the year. These two teams do not have a very long history, playing each other only three times since 1992. The Aztecs have gone 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS) in these matchups and squeaked out a narrow 39-38 victory in Nevada as 7-point underdogs last October. Changes at key positions for SDSU look to have given the squad new life as it lost against Oregon State in the last few minutes of a 34-30 outcome and is coming off a 26-16 victory for its first win of the year against New Mexico State. Nevada has faltered when faced with superior competition (UCLA and FSU), but has proven to be a solid team with wins against UC Davis and MWC foes Hawaii and Air Force. Nevada is 4-10 ATS over its past 14 games, and 1-6 ATS on the road over its past seven contests. Over their past five games, the Aztecs are 1-4 both SU and ATS.
Nevada is coming off of two straight conference wins (Hawaii, Air Force) and has played a game in each of the past five weeks, so fatigue could possibly be a factor late in this game. QB Cody Fajardo has been the main weapon for the Wolf Pack in 2013, and has posted impressive numbers in his three starts. He has protected the ball well (0 INT) and kept defenses on their toes both in the passing game (264 pass YPG, 5 TD) and rushing attack (223 rush yards, 5 TD). Helping Fajardo and the nation’s 58th-best running offense will be HBs Kendall Brock and Chris Solomon. The two running backs have a combined 138 attempts for 503 yards (3.6 YPC) and two touchdowns. Another key offensive player in this game will be 2012 All-Conference WR Brandon Wimberly, who posted 15 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown against Air Force last week. Overall Wimberly has 34 catches for 285 yards and 4 TD on the season, including a touchdown in each of the past four games. DE Brock Hekking (24 tackles, 3 sacks) will attempt to help Nevada’s 103rd-ranked defense get back on track as it has given up 40+ points in three of its five games and has allowed 270 rushing YPG to opponents. The Wolf Pack will be looking for Fajardo and senior Wimberly to lead the way if they hope to have their first victory in four attempts against the Aztecs.
San Diego State started out the season with three straight losses, but has seemed to turn it around somewhat with a solid performance against a very high octane Oregon State offense and a win at New Mexico State. Much of this turnaround can be attributed to the addition of QB Quinn Kaehler and HB Donnel Pumphrey to the starting lineup. When starting QB Adam Dingwell went down with an injured back against Ohio State, Kaehler seized his chance to run the offense and has appeared to win the starting job for good. In his two starts plus most of the Ohio State game, Kaehler has thrown for 696 yards, 3 TD and 3 INT, which has led him to a 1-1 record as a starter. Pumphrey was the spark that SDSU was looking for last week at NMSU, where he ran the ball 19 times for 167 yards and three scores. The Aztecs offense is also aided by the two-headed receiving duo of WR Ezell Ruffin (20 rec, 299 yards) and WR Colin Lockett (21 rec, 279 yards). San Diego State has struggled mightily on the defensive side this year allowing 406 total YPG and 33 PPG (99th in nation) on the season. Look for the new blood in San Diego to dig deep on Thursday and try to turn this struggling team around.