After feasting on weak opponents to start the season, Nevada will finally get a challenge as the San Diego State Aztecs and their suffocating defense invade Reno. Both teams are coming off wins last week, and are looking to remain at or near the top of the Mountain West standings.
Nevada’s Carson Strong found Romeo Doubs three times for touchdowns in a 27-20 comeback win over New Mexico last week. Strong finished with 336 yards, with 173 of those yards going to Doubs. Toa Taua rushed for 62 yards on 15 carries.
Meanwhile, San Diego State raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead courtesy of two Greg Bell touchdowns and a Segun Olibi pick-six. The Aztecs rolled up 356 yards on the ground, and only needed to throw 13 passes to dispatch the Warriors. The vaunted Aztec defense held Hawaii to 275 total yards, marking the fourth time SDSU has allowed under 300 yards.
So what will give on Saturday? Will Nevada’s connection between Strong and Doubs end the Aztecs streak of holding teams under 300 yards, or will SDSU shut down one of the more explosive connections in all of college football? Also, will SDSU generate enough production through the air to keep Nevada’s defense honest? Those are questions that must be answered.
Aztecs Relying on Stout DefenseSan Diego State’s calling card this season has been their defense, which has allowed just 242.8 yards per game this season. Opponents have converted on just 23.7 percent of third-down attempts, and have only rushed for 90 yards per game. Nevada boasts a dangerous passing attack and will test an Aztec secondary that has allowed just 152.3 passing yards per game.
Quarterback Carson Baker has completed 58.5 percent of his passes this season for 591 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Against Hawai’i, Baker only completed four passes for 30 yards, but it did not matter because of the strong run game. Greg Bell upped his season total to 537 yards and five touchdowns. Bell is averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Receivers Jesse Matthews and Kobe Smith are Baker’s top targets, combining to haul in 19 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown.
All told, the Aztec offense has averaged 428 yards per game, and will face off against a Wolf Pack defense that allows 317.8 yards per game and just over 20 points per game. The one area that needs to improve is red zone offense. The Aztecs have scored touchdowns on nine of their 19 red zone possessions (six field goals).
Nevada’s Strong to Doubs Connection Will Face Toughest Test of SeasonNevada’s first four opponents of 2020 have a combined 1-13 record, allowing the Wolfpack to ease into midseason form. That adjustment period ends this week as San Diego State and their vaunted defense come to town to face one of the Mountain West’s top offenses. Quarterback Carson Strong has completed 71% of his passes for 1517 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception through the first four games. Strong’s connection with Romeo Doubs is one of the most explosive in college football. Doubs has caught 31 passes for 645 yards and eight touchdowns. Opposite of Doubs is Cole Turner, who has hauled in 21 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns.
Toa Taua has averaged 6.5 yards per carry and has scored two touchdowns from his running back spot. While the passing game is the offense’s focus, Taua has led a rushing attack designed to keep defenses honest.
Defensively, the Wolf Pack have held opponents to a 28% third-down conversion rate, and have allowed just 12 red zone trips this season (six TDs, five FGs). Nevada’s defense has allowed opponents to gain 126 rushing yards per game, and will be tested by the strong Aztec rushing attack.
- Nevada: Wolf Pack are 1-3-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Nevada: N/A
- SDSU: Aztecs are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- SDSU: Aztecs are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games.