Tag Archives: Nevada Wolfpack

The Mountain West’s Best Football Games of 2016

The Mountain West has taken quite the fall from grace. Just ten years ago things looked great, as it was the dominant non-BCS conference. With TCU and Boise State challenging for BCS title appearances, and Utah and BYU very solid programs as well, there were years the MWC was better than some BCS conferences.

Now, Boise State is the only of those four teams still around, and even the Broncos have fallen back to the pack with former coach Chris Petersen now at Washington. It has left a less interesting conference, albeit one that is much more competitive. San Diego State ran away with it in 2015. Will that change this fall? Here are the ten games that will shape the Mountain West in 2016.

10. Fresno State @ Nebraska (Saturday, September 3)

Fresno State wasn’t very good last year, but Nebraska hasn’t exactly been dominating since joining the Big Ten, either. It’s a long shot, but the Bulldogs would earn the Mountain West a huge amount of respect if they can knock off the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on the season’s opening weekend.

9. Utah State @ Boise State (Saturday, October 1)

The unfortunate Chuckie Keeton era is over at Utah State, but replacing him won’t be the Aggies biggest issue. Kent Myers played a good chunk of the season last year and finished with 16 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. He’ll lead an offense with eight starters returning against Boise State in a game between two teams competing for a conference title bid.

8. Nevada @ San Jose State (Saturday, October 15)

These were the only two teams besides San Diego State to even finish .500 in their division last year. The winner of this one will later play the Aztecs with a spot in the conference championship game likely on the line.

7. San Diego State @ Northern Illinois (Saturday, September 17)

Northern Illinois has been the class of the MAC recently, and San Diego State rolled through the Mountain West last year. It may not mean much to most of the country, but this game is for bragging rights over the strength of Group of Five conferences.

6. Boise State @ Oregon State (Saturday, September 24)

Boise State, playing its second consecutive Pac-12 team, gets a bye before this one. The Broncos might be favored and will look for a win to provide the team some momentum and confidence heading into its conference slate.

5. California @ San Diego State (Saturday, September 10)

This is one of the bigger non-conference games among Mountain West teams. The Aztecs will bring in the nation’s second-longest winning streak and look to avenge last year’s 35-7 loss to Cal. It will be much easier with departed Cal quarterback Jared Goff playing on Sundays.

4. Washington State @ Boise State (Saturday, September 10)

Boise State hasn’t been the same team in the past few years that it was when Chris Petersen had them rolling, but the Broncos should improve from their four losses a year ago under third-year coach Bryan Harsin. The Broncos knocked off the Washington Huskies last year and will look to do the same against the Huskies’ rival.

3. San Diego State @ Fresno State (Saturday, October 15)

This in-state battle for San Diego State is against one of the few teams to play them close in 2015. The Bulldogs played a close-ish 21-7 game against the Aztecs and now get them at home. With SDSU’s defense not as dominant as a year ago, Fresno could pull the upset.

2. Nevada @ Hawaii (Saturday, October 1)

Hawaii was pretty dreadful last year and didn’t notch a conference win. They return 17 starters this year though so that streak should end at some point. Will it here? If a Nevada team looking to compete for a conference title game spot overlooks the Warriors, they could be in for a long trip back from the islands.

1. San Diego State @ Nevada (Saturday, November 12)

San Diego State dominated the Mountain West last year, allowing just 90 points in eight conference games. Nevada should have a good offense, but its defense will have to improve after giving up 320 yards rushing to the Aztecs in this match-up last year.

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Featured image courtesy Nathan Rupert

College Basketball Invitational Moves to Quarterfinals

The College Basketball Invitational first round action wrapped up last night, with seven games being played. We have a recap of all of the action, starting with Morehead State vs. Siena on March 15.

Morehead State vs. Siena

In their first postseason victory since upsetting Louisville in the NCAA Tournament in 2011, Morehead State defeated Siena, 84-80, in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational. Senior Lyonell Gaines had a career-high 20 points and 11 rebounds and junior Xavier Moon scored 17 points as the Eagles hit 7-of-8 free throw attempts to seal the victory in the closing moments. Morehead State will host Duquesne on Monday night.

Nebraska-Omaha vs. Duquesne

In a game where defense was optional, Duquesne defeated Omaha120-112 on Wednesday night. Both teams broke the CBI single-game scoring record set by Creighton and Davidson in 2011. Derrick Colter scored a career-high 28 points for Duquesne as his Dukes move on to face Morehead State on Monday.

Albany vs. Ohio

Ohio redshirt senior forward Treg Setty recorded a career high 30 points to go with 10 rebounds to lift Ohio to a 94-90 win in overtime on Wednesday night. Setty hit a corner three with a hand in the face to give the Bobcats an 87-86 lead with 1:34 left in the game. After an Albany miss, Setty grabbed the rebound and hit a clutch layup to give Ohio an 89-86 lead they would not lose. Ohio moves on to face UNCG on Monday night.

Houston Baptist vs. UNCG

The UNCG men’s basketball team earned their first-ever postseason tournament victory on Wednesday as UNCG fought out a 69-65 victory over Houston Baptist. UNCG rallied from a six-point second half deficit before going on a 20-2 second half run to take the lead for good. UNCG will face Ohio in the quarterfinals on Monday night.

Western Carolina vs. Vermont

Kurt Steidl scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his 100th career game as Vermont beat Western Carolina, 79-74 on Wednesday night. Vermont led the entire game until a 15-0 run tied the game at 39 with 16:43 left to play.  Vermont used a 10-2 run to take the lead for the rest of the game and move on in the tournament. They face Seattle in the quarterfinals on Monday.

Pepperdine vs. Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington earned their first victory in a national tournament as a member of NCAA Division I by defeating Pepperdine, 79-72 on Wednesday night. The victory came as a gift for head coach Jim Hayford, who coached in his 500th career game as a collegiate head coach. Eastern Washington will face Nevada in Reno on Monday night.

Montana vs. Nevada

Nevada rallied back from a 12 point deficit with just over 15 minutes to play to defeat Montana, 79-75 on Wednesday. Junior guard D.J. Fenner scored eight consecutive points to tie the game at 56-56, but the Grizzlies took control of the game and lead 63-57 with 4:50 left. It took a three pointer by Lindsey Drew to put the Wolf Pack up for good at 70-68. Six free throws and a three pointer for the Pack made the final score 79-75. Nevada will host Eastern Washington on Monday night.

Idaho vs. Seattle

Seattle used a balanced game of offense and defense to defeat the University of Idaho, 68-63 on Wednesday night. In a game that featured 11 lead changes, it look two three pointers by Zack Moore and Brendan Westendorf to put Seattle up for good at 43-42. Westerndorf shot 8-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three as he lead the Redhawks with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Seattle will face Vermont on Monday night.

 

The rest of the tournament bracket is listed below. The rest of the CBI action kicks of on Monday night with the quarterfinals.

tournament bracket
Bracket courtesy of Gazelle Group.

Colorado State and Nevada Meet Up in the Arizona Bowl

The Arizona Bowl game is in its first year of existence and bowl officials have created a bit of an oddity. The strangeness of this bowl game is not that it is going to be played in Tucson, Arizona, a sleepy college town that is home to the University of Arizona, but rather that the game is going to be played between Colorado State and Nevada, who are from the same conference.

Will this weirdness of the game create some interest? Bowl officials hope so, but in reality it probably will have a difficult time getting ratings for television. Many fans, writers, and other pundits believe that the bowl season is out of control with the number of bowls available and when you take a look at the Arizona Bowl, it’s hard to disagree with that point. However, there is a game to be played regardless of records, so let’s take a look at what these teams need to do to come out with the win.

Colorado State, like any other team, has to limit its turnovers. That’s not a groundbreaking thought when it comes to football, but the Rams have had a difficult time holding onto the ball in 2015. In 12 games this season Colorado State has 26 turnovers. The Ram quarterback, Nick Stevens, has thrown 15 interceptions as a freshman, but they have also lost 11 fumbles. By losing the ball this much it is has sunk the Rams to 113th in turnover ratio. Anybody that knows anything about football will know that Nevada is supremely aware of this statistic and will try and create as much pressure up front from their defensive line as possible. Any tackle being made by the Wolfpack will most certainly be one being made with their players trying to strip the ball from the Rams’ running backs and receivers.

Another aspect of this game to be on the lookout for is the ground game for the Nevada Wolfpack. Nevada likes to pound the rock all game and it’s become the bread and butter in their offense. The Wolfpack has a couple of 1,000 yard rushers in James Butler and Don Jackson. Butler leads the team with 1,153 and Jackson isn’t much further behind him with 1,029 yards. It will certainly be up to the Colorado State front seven to stop these runners. Obviously, if that can’t be done, the Rams are in for a very long game.

Nevada likes to run the ball, but Colorado State likes to strike through the air. Nick Stevens, as a freshman led the conference in touchdown passes with 21 while also passing for 2,369 yards. With an air attack like this Stevens has weapons on the outside. Stevens big weapon on the outside is junior Rashard Higgins, who just happens to own some school records in total receptions and touchdowns. For 2015, Higgins has battled some injuries, but still has managed to grab 66 receptions, eight touchdowns, and 933 total receiving yards. This combo of Stevens to Higgins will be one to look for during the course of the game.

This game will be a close game between the two schools. Nevada and Colorado State are teams that know each other very well, even though they did not play each other this past season and it doesn’t look like they are until 2017. The thing that both teams have to battle is the fact they are playing each other. Usually teams play teams from other conferences and that provides some spark to their preparation, but not this time. Both sides have to bring the intensity to win this game, otherwise, it’s a wasted trip to Tucson.

Plus, they have to consider themselves extremely lucky to be in a bowl game in the first place considering both of their records. When the final horn goes off, it’s going to be Colorado State who wins the game 30-24.