Football Bowl Subdivision
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Louisiana Tech (2-2) at Nevada (1-3)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, October 9th, 9:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (31,545) -- Reno, Nevada. Television: ESPN. Home Record: LaTech 2-0, Nevada 1-1. Away Record: LaTech 0-2, Nevada 0-2. Neutral Record: LaTech 0-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: LaTech 1-0, Nevada 0-0. Series Record: Nevada leads, 5-4.

GAME NOTES: The Nevada Wolf Pack will try to carry over their explosive play from last week as they entertain the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Western Athletic Conference action at Mackay Stadium in Reno on Friday night.

Nevada had suffered three straight defeats to open the 2009 campaign to the dismay of head coach Chris Ault, scoring a total of just 41 points against the likes of Notre Dame, Colorado State and Missouri. Last Saturday, the team had the added incentive of trying to retain possession of the Fremont Cannon, the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual battle between the Wolf Pack and the UNLV Rebels. Tied at 28-28 in the third quarter, the Pack went on a nasty 35-0 run that completely squashed the visitors to Reno. In the course of setting a new school-record with 559 yards rushing in the rout, Nevada also earned coach Ault the 199th victory of his career.

As for the Bulldogs, they too started slow with back-to-back losses against Auburn and Navy, but in the last two games the program has outscored Nicholls State and Hawaii by a combined 75-19. Last Wednesday night, the defense for LaTech rallied to holster the quick-fire offense of the Warriors and limited the Ruston visitors to just a pair of field goals in a 27-6 final. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Hawaii was held scoreless the entire second half.

Nevada has won four in a row over the Bulldogs, and now owns a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series.

Against one of the worst run defenses in the nation, the Bulldogs gave the ball to Daniel Porter and watched as the running back gained 160 yards and scored twice on 25 carries last week. Altogether the Bulldogs ran the ball a staggering 57 times and generated 352 yards on the ground. All of that production took the pressure off of quarterback Ross Jenkins who converted 13- of-22 passes but for only 97 yards. Before the Hawaii meeting Porter, who finished with 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns a season ago, was running in circles with just 134 combined yards on 40 attempts. Last year, Porter managed just 50 rushing yards in a 35-31 loss to Nevada, so he always has the potential to swing from high to low with his production. Jenkins is serviceable in his abilities, averaging 189.8 ypg through the air, but were he to find Phillip Livas a little more often surely his numbers would reflect the greatness of the all-conference performer. Livas, who has just 12 catches for 148 yards, already has a punt return for a touchdown and is averaging better than 19 yards per kickoff return.

While the LaTech offense was cruising along behind Porter, the defense was feasting on Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander. Before being pulled in the third quarter with a left knee injury that has subsequently ended his season, Alexander was sacked five times and intercepted twice by the Bulldogs. His backup, Bryant Moniz, also suffered two sacks. Despite coming up with just three total tackles in that meeting, D'Anthony Smith was credited with two sacks for the Bulldogs. Now, after four games, LaTech is ranked first in the conference and 39th nationally with an average of 2.25 sacks per game, but before beating up on Hawaii QBs the team was actually last in the WAC and 115th in the country with a mere 0.67 sacks per game, so one has to wonder which stat is more representative of the team's true ability. Seeing as how the Bulldogs are just 95th this week with 4.75 tackles for loss per game, it appears as though the effort against the Warriors was an exception to the rule.

The game with UNLV started out rather uneventful, but turned into a record- breaker for the Wolf Pack as Mike Ball, Colin Kaepernick and Luke Lippincott all rushed for at least 170 yards. In the case of Ball, who is just a freshman, he produced 184 yards and an amazing five touchdowns on 15 carries as he filled the void left by an injured Vai Taua. Kaepernick, the reigning WAC Offensive Player of the Year, also hit on 15-of-18 passes for another 208 yards and touchdown, not to mention reeling in a TD pass thrown by Lippincott as Nevada opened up the Pistol Offense and ran wild. With the rushing explosion last week, the Pack has jumped up to 274.8 ypg on the ground and that has the squad ranked first in the WAC and tied for third in the nation. Now if Kaepernick can just get himself straightened out in the pocket the team might actually have something to look forward to the rest of the season. Right now Kaepernick is completing 64.5 percent of his pass attempts for 188.5 ypg, but his efforts have resulted in just three touchdowns and four interceptions for a team that was one of the most aggressive in college football a year ago.

While the Pack was cruising along with an incredible 559 yards on the ground and posting 773 yards on just 74 snaps, accounting for one of the highest offensive outputs in program history, the defense was locking up the win by holding UNLV to a mere 70 yards rushing. Granted, the Rebels were operating without starting quarterback Omar Clayton who was out with an injury, but considering how badly the first three games of the season had gone for the Pack, they needed all the breaks they could get to try and turn the corner. With Kaepernick and the offense trying to snap out of a rut, the defense has its own issues in Reno these days, allowing opponents to pass for an unsightly 303 ypg, which has the team ranked last in the conference and 118th in the nation. The run defense has been somewhat more respectable with just 126.3 ypg allowed, but put it altogether and the Pack has been touched for 429.3 ypg, which is seventh in the WAC and 107th nationally. On a positive note, Dontay Moch is first in the country with his 2.75 TFLs per game right now.

This game will be fought mostly on the ground between some of the best runners in the conference. However, Kaepernick's performance in the pocket is what will likely decide the outcome one way or another.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 35, Louisiana Tech 27

10/07 10:30:59 ET