GAME PREVIEW: Nevada vs. San Jose State

Nevada vs. San Jose State
When: Friday, Dec. 11th 10:00 PM EDT
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV/Streaming: CBS Sports Network/Watch CBS Sports Network

A trip to the Mountain West Conference title game is on the line when San Jose State plays Nevada in this contest. The game was to be hosted by San Jose State but because of the no contact sport mandate in Santa Clara County, where San Jose is located in California, the game has been moved to the neutral site of Las Vegas.

San Jose State practiced in Albequreque, N.M at MWC foe New Mexico this week and will travel to Las Vegas for the game.

San Jose State is currently the only undefeated team overall in the Mountain West Conference and are tied in the standings with Boise State, who is also undefeated in conference play.

The winner of this game will be assured a spot in the MWC title game. San Jose State could also still have a rematch if they lose but Boise State should also lose at Wyoming. Nevada would get the home field for the MWC with a win and a Boise State loss.

Below is a statistical comparison of the two teams showing that both teams are very similar both on offense and defense:

The overall series between the Spartans and Wolfpack has been rather one sided with Nevada picking up wins in ten of the last 11 games. The last and only SJSU win in this span was in 2016.

Last year, Nevada won a thriller of a game last year. San Jose State battled back from two separate 21-point deficits to tie the game late, but Nevada K Brandon Talton nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to win the game for the Wolf Pack 41-38.

Nevada Wolfpack (6-1 overall & MWC)

Nevada looks for its first ever MWC championship game appearance ever and first conference title since 2017–the year before the conference title contest.

QB Carson Strong continues to perform at a pretty high level in the passing game for Nevada and his group of playmakers around him should again have a good day against San Jose State. WR Romeo Doubs is the leading receiver with 44 catches for 885 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Wolf Pack captured a 37-26 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs last week. Nevada can attribute much of their success to another reciever in Tory Horton, who caught five passes for three TDs and 148 yards. That receiving effort made it the first game that Horton has posted more than 100 yards receiving.

The Wolfpack offense is far from one dimensional though as RB Toa Taua is a solid back that can get the tough yards. He was a key force in the game last year.

Toa Taua powered Nevada’s offense with 160 rushing yards and a touchdown. He broke two tackles in the backfield during the Pack’s final drive to gained 27 yards to put Nevada in field goal range for what would become the game winning score.

Key Player: QB Carson Strong

Strong has been the Mountain West’s best quarterback this season, leading the conference in completion percentage (69.5), passing yards (2,327) and touchdowns (21). Last week against Fresno State, Strong completed 23 of 39 passes for 354 passing yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. He will have to continue to use his arm in this one as SJSU’s weakest point has been the pass defense.

San Jose State Spartans (5-0 Overall & MWC)

The Spartans, outside of possibly Coastal Carolina, have been the biggest surprise team in all of the Group of Five this year. The Spartans 5-0 start is the best for the school since 1939 when the team finished undefeated that season.

The Spartans are led by QB Nick Starkel has done a good job this season tof managing the game and not giving the football away. He also has several weapons to work with as Bailey Gaither, Tre Walker, and Derrick Deese Jr. are his primary targets.

Last year’s game was one where the Spartans could not get the run game going (totaling only 16 yards on the ground). SJSU will need to get the running game going with Tyler Nevens and Kairee Robinson for the Spartans to win this game. Nevens was on fire last week in the win over Hawai’i–rushing for two touchdowns and 152 yards on just 16 carries and will look to carry this over into this game.

The defense made Hawai’i a one-dimensional offense last week. It limited the Rainbow Warrior to just 110 rushing yards and will need to have a similar kind of effort this week against the Wolfpack.

Key Player: QB Nick Starkel

Starkel will not put up the amazing stats like his Nevada counterpart in Strong. Last week, he completed 11 of 23 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He will need to avoid any turnovers in this game and use his strong running game behind. Nevada, however, will likely play the running game strong so Starkel will need to use his arm enough to keep that defense honest.

Fearless Prediction:

The turnover battle will be the key to the winner in this game. I believe whoever has this edge will be the winning team. SJSU has had a lucky charm all season and knows how to win close games. I expect this game to be close the whole game and will go down to the last possession of the game. I like the stronger quarterback of Nevada to edge out in the end. Nevada 30 San Jose State 27