The Wolf Pack put the UNLV loss in the rear-view mirror with a commanding 35-17 home win over New Mexico on Saturday.
Nevada evened its record at 3-3, 1-1 in Mountain West play with the win. Now, Nevada looks to put together its first winning streak of the season, on the road, against a Wyoming team that is yet to win a contest.
The Cowboys have talent at the skill positions but don’t do a great job protecting the quarterback, taking care of the ball or keeping teams out of the endzone for that matter.
The Pack’s defense is playing its best ball of the year but the Cowboys pose the stiffest test in a month.
Kickoff on Saturday is at 1 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN3.
About the Cowboys
Coach: Craig Bohl (second season, 4-14)
2014 Finish: 4-8, 2-6 (fifth in Mountain West—Mountain)
2015 Record: 0-6, 0-2
Quarterback: Senior transfer Cameron Coffman leads one of the best passing attacks in the Mountain West. Coffman and the Cowboys average 230 yards a game through the air—fourth best in the conference. Coffman also ranks near the top of the conference in touchdown passes (11) and interceptions (6). Coffman is not a threat with his legs.
Dangerous Weapons: Coffman has two favorite targets: Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt. Gentry is the big-play guy, averaging 17.9 yards a grab and 98.7 yards a game. Maulhardt is more a possession receiver, averaging 52 yards a game. Both have three touchdown grabs this season. But Wyoming isn’t a pass-only team. Brian Hill is one of the best running backs in the conference. Hill averages more than six yards a touch and more than 132 yards a game. He also has scored three touchdowns this year.
What to look for
-Wyoming’s offense rarely has issues moving the ball. The Cowboys average 400 yards a game. The problem for the Cowboys have been turnovers and struggles in the redzone. Wyoming has one of the Mountain West’s worst turnover margin (-6) and has scored on just 10-of-19 red zone possessions—the worst percentage in the conference. Going 1-for-5 on field goals hasn’t helped either. Nevada has the No. 8 red zone defense in the Mountain West.
-Since allowing 44 points at Texas A&M on Sept. 19, Nevada’s defense has lived up to the preseason billing. Excluding two defensive touchdowns the Nevada offense surrendered, the defense has allowed just 16.6 points per game the last three. The defense all but erased the UNLV and New Mexico rushing attacks the majority of both those contests. Saturday will provide a different challenge, however, against a team with a much better passing attack than the Rebels or the Lobos.
-Quarterback Tyler Stewart and the Nevada offense played its best game of the season last Saturday against New Mexico. The numbers suggest the Pack should continue that trend against the Cowboys. Wyoming is allowing more than 34 points a game (No. 11 in the Mountain West) on more than 407 yards (No. 8 in Mountain West).
-Wide receiver Jerico Richardson is developing a strong relationship with Stewart. Richardson caught eight passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in the loss to UNLV and grabbed nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in the win over New Mexico. Richardson will be asked to separate against a Wyoming secondary that’s allowing 191 passing yards a game—fourth best in the Mountain West.
Nevada is feeling itself a little after stomping New Mexico and could understandably be looking ahead on the schedule. After playing winless Wyoming, Nevada returns home to play a scuffling Hawaii squad before a big matchup at Fresno State. The Wolf Pack can’t sleep on the Cowboys. Coach Brian Polian knows that.
Nevada 31, Wyoming 23