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San Jose State (5-4) at Nevada (3-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 10:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (29,993) -- Reno, Nevada. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: SJSU 2-2, Nevada 3-1. Away Record: SJSU 3-2, Nevada 0-6. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: SJSU 4-2, Nevada 2-5. Series Record: Nevada leads, 16-6-2
GAME NOTES: The San Jose State Spartans hit the road for the last time this season as they meet up with the Nevada Wolf Pack for a Mountain West Conference battle at Mackay Stadium in Reno.
Needing just one more win to become bowl eligible, the Spartans are entering the weekend on a sour note after losing to San Diego State at home, 34-30. The defeat snapped a four-game win streak by SJSU and also dropped the squad to 4-2 in conference play, which means they are now in third place in the West Division standings.
As for Nevada, it now occupies the fifth position in the division with only two wins in seven opportunities. Since winning back-to-back games against Hawaii and Air Force to kick off the league slate back in September, the Wolf Pack have bowed in five consecutive outings. The latest loss took place last the weekend in a 38-17 setback versus Colorado State on the road.
Last season, Nevada slipped by SJSU with a 17-14 triumph, giving the Pack a 16-8-2 edge in the all-time series.
Quarterback David Fales threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns last Saturday night, but he was also sacked twice and tossed a pair of interceptions as the Spartans squandered a golden opportunity during their four-point loss to San Diego State at home. Fales completed 11 passes to Chandler Jones who turned them into a game-high 155 yards and a score, while Tim Crawley made just three catches yet landed in the end zone twice in the losing cause.
Kicker Austin Lopez kept the Spartans in the mix with three successful field goals, but his final attempt in the fourth quarter from 38 yards out was blocked.
While Lopez may have played a major role in keeping hope alive for the Spartans last weekend, there's no denying that it is Fales who is the one grabbing the spotlight more often than not for SJSU. Last season, Fales was one of the most accurate passers in the country, but while his aim has dropped down to just under 60 percent through nine games, he is still producing 319.6 ypg through the air and has tossed 21 touchdowns.
On the other end of the majority of those TD tosses is Jones who has made it into the end zone 11 times and turned his team-best 58 catches into 1,032 yards, almost twice the yards as any one of his teammates.
The Wolf Pack looked good in the first half, limiting Colorado State to only six points, but then the flood gates opened after intermission and Nevada was helpless against a record-setting rushing effort that eventually led to the lopsided road loss. The Pack gave up 331 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, with all but 19 of those yards coming from one player in Kapri Bibbs.
Cody Fajardo, the best offensive weapon Nevada has this season, managed to convert 31-of-46 passes for 247 yards, but he was sacked three times and could not get the ball into the end zone through the air. Fajardo paced the Pack on the ground with 87 yards and a TD on 13 carries, but still the team lost for the fifth time in as many outings.
Because the Pack allowed Bibbs to run all over them, the team is now faced with being the second-worst run defense in the nation, giving up a massive 265.0 ypg on the ground. Unfortunately, as bad as that may sound, the pass defense really isn't that much better for Nevada as it ranks 99th with 253.8 ypg surrendered.
If Nevada is to have any success in these final few games of the season, it will need Fajardo to be the catalyst and not just the quarterback who is able to move the team between the 20-yard lines. Fajardo has proven that he can connect at a high rate (.670) on his passes, but he has just 11 touchdowns in nearly 300 attempts. He is second in rushing yards (498) and touchdowns (six), but he can't do it all alone any more.
At this point the Wolf Pack know that they will be spending the postseason at home, which is why it is difficult to get a read on whether or not the squad will show up this weekend with any fight left in them. Knowing that they are on the cusp of putting themselves in the mix for a postseason bid, expect Fales and the Spartans to lay it all on the line.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 41, Nevada 27
11/14 15:06:54 ET
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