It gets easier this week. Kind of.
After playing top-20 teams in back-to-back weeks, Nevada travels to western New York to square off with Buffalo (2-1) of the Mid-American Conference.
Nevada showed its worth the last two weeks, however, hanging within a possession of Arizona for a half two weeks ago and playing competitively at Texas A&M last week.
Kickoff Saturday in Buffalo is at 12:30 pacific time and will be aired on ESPN3.
About the Bulls
Conference Affiliation: Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Coach: Lance Leipold (first season)
2014 Finish: 5-6, 3-4
2015 Record: 2-1
Quarterback: Senior Joe Licata has no shortage of experience. The seasoned quarterback will make his 32nd straight start on Saturday. Licata’s 29 touchdown passes a season ago led the Mid-American Conference and his 64 career touchdown tosses are a school record. He goes into Saturday’s contest completing 66.7 percent of his passes this season for 556 yards (185 yards per game) and four touchdowns compared with four interceptions.
Dangerous Weapons: Ron Willoughby is Licata’s go-to option. Willoughby leads the team in receptions (12) and yards (147). Anthone Taylor is the Bills’ best runner. He’s averaging 20 carries and 104 yards a game. He’s found the end zone twice.
What to look for
-Nevada’s passing game showed promising signs in last Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M. Tyler Stewart threw for a career-high 206 yards. Hasaan Henderson accounted for 69 of them on five grabs, one of which was a highlight reel touchdown. The Wolf Pack’s aerial assault will square off against a Buffalo secondary allowing more than 220 yards a game.
-The Wolf Pack’s run game also had success last Saturday against a defense much bigger and faster than the one it will see this week. Nevada ran for 202 yards, led by sophomore James Butler who ran for 118 yards on 17 carries. Look for the run game to build on that effort.
-Buffalo has outscored its opponents 98-56 (Albany, Penn State and Florida Atlantic) largely because it’s capitalized on turnovers. The Bills have turned eight forced turnovers into 37 points while allowing just 10 points on the two turnovers its committed.
-Slow starts in the eastern time zone are always a concern for west coast teams but that will not be an issue at Buffalo for two reasons. First, the 3:30 p.m. local time (12:30 pacific time) will hardly be an early wake up. Second, Nevada kicked off at 9 a.m. pacific time at Texas A&M last week and started quick, nearly taking a 14-7 lead before a defensive touchdown was taken off the board for holding.
The Bills are hardly a slouch. At 2-1, their lone loss came two weeks ago at Penn State, where they pushed the Nittany Lions before eventually falling 27-14. Buffalo rolled Albany 51-14 in its only home game of the season. That said, the Bills have relied on turnovers this year. If Nevada can take care of the ball, it should be able to pull this one out.
Nevada 27, Buffalo 23