Nevada Looks for 1st Win Over 26th Ranked Missouri

By: SCOTT SONNER Email
By: SCOTT SONNER Email

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Missouri will try to close out its non-conference schedule a perfect 4-0 Friday night against a winless Nevada team that's been plagued by turnovers in lopsided losses at Notre Dame and Colorado State.

"We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot," said Nevada coach Chris Ault, whose patented "pistol offense" turned the ball over five times in a 35-20 loss at Fort Collins last week after a 35-0 drubbing by the Irish. Nevada is now 0-2.

"It's obvious we've got to get better and we've got to get better quick, especially against a team like Missouri," said Ault, who's within two wins of his 200th career victory. "They are playing very well."

Missouri (3-0) hits the road for the first time this year against a Wolf Pack squad that began the season pegged as the best bet to have a chance of knocking off No. 8 Boise State for the Western Athletic Conference title.

Tigers coach Gary Pinkle said he expects to see a different Nevada team in the 6 p.m. PDT matchup on ESPN at Mackay Stadium, where the Wolf Pack are 22-8 since the winningest coach in school history returned to the sidelines for a third stint in 2004.

"We'll get their `A' game," Pinkle said. "They are at home. They are excited about it."

"They've played two real good football teams... They're a better football team than what their record's shown," he said.

"From an exposure standpoint, it's the only college game on national television (Friday). It is a huge plus for both programs," Pinkle said.

Missouri linebacker Andrew Gachkar said it will be a challenge to coral Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the WAC's reigning offensive player of the year who last season became only the fifth player in NCAA history to pass for more than 1,000 yards and run for more than 2,000 yards.

"They're probably one of the best 0-2 teams in the entire nation," Gachkar said. "He's definitely a really good quarterback and he's extremely fast, so we're preparing for a really good team."

Missouri counters with sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who ranks 11th in the NCAA in passing efficiency. He's completed 68.1 percent of his passes for an average of 249 yards per game and eight touchdowns in wins over Illinois, Bowling Green and Furman.

His favorite targets have been Jared Perry, who is averaging 103 yards receiving on 17 total catches, and Danario Alexander, who's caught 20 and is averaging 78 yards a game.

The Tigers were one slot shy of making The Associated Press Top 25 last week. They have a bye week next week before opening Big 12 play at home against Nebraska in a Thursday night ESPN matchup Oct. 8.

Their 25 victories since the start of the 2007 season ties them for the most in the nation during that stretch with USC, Oklahoma, Boise State, Florida and Texas. They've won 13 consecutive non-conference games, the last loss coming in the 2006 Sun Bowl against Oregon State.

Friday night's game is only the second between the two teams. The Tigers won in Columbia last season, 69-17.

"We're glad it's at home," said Ault, where an anticipated near-sellout crowd of 26,000 is being asked to wear white T-shirts for a "White Out."

"We played them last year and struggled tremendously at their place. I think this team is very, very good," Ault said.

"But the thing I'm most concerned about right now is us. ... Whether we are off track or not is yet to be seen. It's how you end. That's the key."


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