Advertisement

Unbeaten Wolf Pack aims to stay atop Mountain West Conference in critical clash with San Diego State

4-0 Nevada hosts the 3-1 Aztecs in a game that will air on network television.
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 6:43 PM PST
Email this link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RENO, Nev. (Nevada Athletics) - For just the eighth time in program history, the Nevada football team looks to start its season 5-0.

Nevada is 4-0 for just the ninth time in program history and will look to remain undefeated this Saturday as the Wolf Pack faces a test in 3-1 San Diego State. The Wolf Pack pulled an upset win over San Diego State a season ago, knocking off the then-ranked No. 24 Aztecs in San Diego by the final of 17-13. That win marked the first ranked road win in school history and only the second win against the Aztecs on the road in program history.

Saturday will be a battle between the high-powered offense of Nevada, versus a stingy San Diego State defense. The Wolf Pack enters the game ranked in the top 20 in the nation averaging 481.8 yards of total offense per game, which includes the nation’s second-best passing offense, led by sophomore QB Carson Strong. On the flip side, the Aztecs boast the second-ranked total defense in the nation, allowing opposing offenses to average just 243.5 yards per game. Additionally, Nevada is averaging over 30 points per game on offense, while the SDSU defense surrenders just around 20 points per game.

ON THE AIR

John Ramey and Mike Edwards will have the call in Northern Nevada on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM with a 60 minute pregame show prior to kickoff. Fans can also tune in to listen to Ramey and Edwards’ broadcast online at TuneIn.com or via the TuneIn app.

Fans can watch the game on CBS. It’s the first time Nevada’s been on a main network since it went to Notre Dame in 2016.

SERIES HISTORY

The Wolf Pack and Aztecs have met 12 times in the all-time series, the first meeting being in 1945. In the past decade however, Nevada and San Diego State have battled one another on the gridiron in eight of those 12 games. SDSU has a slight edge in the past decade of matchups, winning five times in eight attempts. It’s been Nevada though that has had the upper hand lately, winning the past two contests against the Aztecs. Last season the Wolf Pack pulled off an upset win on the road at SDSU, defeating the then-ranked No. 24 Aztecs 17-13. That win marked the first ranked road win in school history and only the second win against the Aztecs on the road in program history.

FOUR AND OH

Saturday’s 27-20 win over New Mexico moved the Wolf Pack to 4-0 for the first time since its historic 2010 season. Nevada went on to finish the 2010 regular season 13-1 and ranked 13th in the country. There have only been nine teams in program history, including the 2020 squad, to start the season 4-0. If Nevada can knock off San Diego State and move to 5-0, it will be the eighth team in program history to do so.

Team Start Final Record

1986 13-0 13-1

1991 12-0 12-1

1978 11-0 11-1

1990 9-0 13-2

2010 6-0 13-1

1948 6-0 9-2

1988 5-0 7-4

1920 4-0 7-3-1

2020 4-0 ?

THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE

Carson Strong is quickly becoming a household name among college football fans, and it’s easy to see why. Strong has impressed through four games of the 2020 season, helping the Wolf Pack stay undefeated thus far. Strong currently leads the Mountain West, and ranks highly nationally as well, in passing TDs (12), passing yards (1,517), passing yards per game (379.3) and completions per game (30). In the game against New Mexico, Strong saw his streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception come to an end in the second quarter at 299, a school record and the second-longest streak in Mountain West history.

TYSON’S PUNCH-OUT

Junior DB Tyson Williams was one of Nevada’s most productive tacklers all of last season, leading the team with 85 total tackles. Williams has continued that into 2020 as he currently leads the Wolf Pack defense with 27 total tackles. In the win over New Mexico, Williams finished with a game and season-high 11 tackles, one shy of tying his career high. Additionally in that game against the Lobos, Williams registered his second career interception, the first takeaway for the Nevada defense since game one.

TALTON’S STREAK

Sophomore PK Brandon Talton has made 14 consecutive field goals dating back to last season, including eight in a row this season. That is a career-long streak for Talton and is the longest in the nation.

1. Brandon Talton (Nevada) – 14

2. Cristian Zendejas (Arizona State) – 13

3. Quinn Nordin (Michigan) – 12

4. Nick Sciba (Wake Forest) – 10

5. Jake Oldroyd (BYU) – 9

Will Reichard (Alabama) – 9

7. Matt Quinn (UAB) – 7

O ROMEO, ROMEO, WHEREFORE ART THOU

Junior WR Romeo Doubs is proving to be one of the top wide receivers in the nation at the halfway point of the regular season. Doubs has been on a tear through the first four games, posting 100 receiving yards or more in all four contests. His streak of four consecutive 100-yard games is tied for fifth best in Mountain West history. He has caught three touchdown passes in back-to-back games, with three against Utah State and three against New Mexico.

On the year, which spans just four games, Doubs leads the nation averaging 161.3 receiving yards per game. He has totaled 645 yards on just 31 receptions, both of which rank in the top 15 nationally. Doubs’ numbers compare with receivers who have played more games, and in some cases, twice as many games. He has made eight touchdown receptions this season, fourth-most in the FBS, and is always a deep threat as six of his eight touchdown grabs have been 30 yards or longer, with a season-long of 65 yards. The Los Angeles native even threw in a 200-yard performance against UNLV, going for a career-high 219 receiving yards. Through four weeks of the season, Doubs has scored more touchdowns (eight) than Utah State (six) and as many as two other Mountain West teams, New Mexico and UNLV. He has also scored more touchdowns than all other Pack receivers combined.

STRONG STRETCH

Carson Strong opened his collegiate career by directing a stunning come-from-behind win over Purdue in the season opener of 2019. He battled an injury over the next few weeks and missed some time. But by the Pack’s stretch run in November last year, Strong was fully healthy and that began a stretch of dominating play to close the 2019 season, a stretch that has continued into the start of 2020. In his last nine games, Strong has a 20-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he has completed nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts.

Strong has also put up six consecutive 300-yard passing games after throwing for 336 against New Mexico, establishing a new Mountain West record. According to research from Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray, Carson Strong is the fifth Wolf Pack quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in six straight games. If Strong can toss at least 300 this Saturday against San Diego State, he will tie former quarterback Chris Vargas (1993) for the record at seven games.

DOM-INATING

Junior DT Dom Peterson entered the 2020 season as one of the top defensive linemen in the Mountain West, and in the nation, and through four games is isn’t disappointing. Peterson has made 20 total tackles this season, which is tied for fourth on the Nevada defense, but he leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He is seventh in the nation among active FBS players in solo tackles for loss per game at 0.90 per game and is eighth in regular tackles for loss per game at 1.0 per game. He’s making a push for the Nevada record book too in his third season, sitting just outside the top 10 in a couple of defensive categories.

CAREER TACKLES FOR LOSS (at Nevada)

1. Dontay Moch, 2007-10 63.0

2. Ezra Butler, 2003-07 50.5

3. Kevin Basped, 2007-09 42.5

4. Jorge Cordova, 2000-03 42.0

5. Malik Reed, 2015-18 38.5

Derek Kennard, 2000-03 38.5

7. James-Michael Johnson, 2008-11 37.5

8. Brett Roy, 2008-11 35.0

9. Brock Hekking, 2011-14 34.5

10. Ian Seau, 2013-15 34.0

Dom Peterson, 2018- 29.0

CAREER SACKS (at Nevada)

1. Jorge Cordova, 2000-03 31.0

2. Dontay Moch, 2007-10 30.0

3. Kevin Basped, 2007-09 23.5

4. Brock Hekking, 2011-14 22.5

5. Malik Reed, 2015-18 22.0

6. Lenny Jones, 2012-15 20.0

7. Ian Seau, 2013-15 18.5

8. Brett Roy, 2008-11 18.0

Derek Kennard, 2000-03 18.0

10. J.J. Milan, 2002-04, 2006 16.5

Ezra Butler, 2004-07 16.5

Dom Peterson, 2018- 14.0

SPECIALISTS SHINING

In addition to the strong performances by kick returner Jamaal Bell and placekicker Brandon Talton, Nevada has excelled in the punt game thus far into the season. Whether it is senior Julian Diaz or freshman Matthew Killam punting, the Pack leads the Mountain West in net punting and is seventh in the nation at 44.6 yards per punt. Diaz booted a 76 yarder in the opener against Wyoming, which is tied for the fourth-longest punt in the nation this year.

NEW KICK RETURNER IN TOWN

True freshman WR Jamaal Bell seems to have found himself a permanent spot as the Wolf Pack’s primary kick returner after solid performances against Wyoming and UNLV. Bell, who made his collegiate debut against Wyoming on Oct. 24, returned six kicks for 116 yards, with a long return of 25 yards. Bell became the first Wolf Pack player to record over 100 return yards in a single game since 2017 when Dameon Baber totaled 139 interception return yards. It was the most return yards by a Nevada kick returner since Sept. 16, 2017 when senior Berdale Robins recorded 105 kick return yards against Idaho State. Bell nearly broke the back-to-back 100 return yards after an 85-yard performance on three kick returns against the Rebels. Against UNLV, Bell returned a kickoff 50 yards in the first quarter, the longest kickoff return by a Nevada player since Daiyan Henley’s 47-yard return vs. Air Force on Oct. 20, 2017. He is averaging 21.1 yards per kick return through four games, which is seventh in the conference and in the top 40 nationally.

GIVE ‘EM SOMETHING TO TALTON ‘BOUT

Sophomore PK Brandon Talton became a household name with Wolf Pack fans after his first collegiate game in 2019 ended with a 56-yard, game-winning, walk-off field goal to beat Purdue. After that magical kick, Talton proved it wasn’t just a fluke. He began his collegiate career by making his first 13 field goal attempts. He finished his true freshman season by garnering All-Mountain West second team honors and making 21-of-25 field goal attempts. His field goal percentage of 84 percent ranked fourth in the conference and was 26th nationally. He’s already begun to make a splash in the Nevada record book as a sophomore. Through four games in 2020, Talton is a perfect 8-for-8 and is one of 12 players nationally to remain perfect on the year. Additionally, Talton has made 14 consecutive field goal attempts dating back to last season, a career-long streak.

CAREER KICK SCORING (at Nevada)

1. Marty Zendejas, 1984-87 385

2. Brett Jaekle, 2005-08 361

3. Tony Zendejas, 1981-83 300

4. Brent Zuzo, 2013-16 277

5. Damon Shea, 1995-97 274

6. Damon Fine, 2001-04 213

7. Fernando Serrano, 1977-79 193

8. Charlie Lee, 1972-75 175

9. Kevin McKelvie, 1989-90 158

10. Bob Corley, 1947-49 130

Mike Phillips, 1998-2000 130

Brandon Talton, 2019- 129

CAREER FIELD GOALS MADE (at Nevada)

1. Marty Zendejas, 1984-87 72 of 90

2. Tony Zendejas, 1981-83 70 of 86

3. Brett Jaekle, 2005-08 50 of 64

4. Damon Fine, 2001-04 50 of 75

5. Brent Zuzo, 2013-16 49 of 62

6. Damon Shea, 1995-96 41 of 52

7. Kevin McKelvie, 1989-90 33 of 42

8. Fernando Serrano, 1977-79 29 of 54

Charlie Lee, 1972-75 29 of 55

Brandon Talton, 2019- 29 of 33

UP NEXT

Nevada will head to Hawai’i for its sixth game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. PT.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.