FACTS & STATS: Site: Hughes Stadium (32,500) -- Fort Collins, Colorado. Television: Mountain West Network. Home Record: Nevada 3-1, CSU 2-2. Away Record: Nevada 0-5, CSU 2-2. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-0, CSU 0-1. Conference Record: Nevada 2-4, CSU 2-2. Series Record: Colorado State leads, 9-2.
GAME NOTES: The Nevada Wolf Pack goes in search of that elusive first road win of the season, as they clash with the Colorado State Rams in Mountain West Conference play at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins on Saturday afternoon.
Nevada, which is 0-5 outside of Reno so far this season, is also riding a four-game skid overall after being tripped up by nationally-ranked Fresno State, 41-23, last Saturday night. Outside of Hawaii which has lost all six of its conference games, the Pack is the weakest program in the West Division of the MWC, sporting a 2-4 mark at the moment.
As for the Rams, they have their sights set on posting their fifth win of the campaign and if that does come to fruition, it would be the first time since CSU finished 7-6 in 2008 that the program would have as many victories.
Unfortunately, the Rams saw their modest two-game win streak come to an end last weekend when they bowed to Boise State, 42-30, at home. With the setback Colorado State is now 2-2 in conference play, which is good enough for a third-place tie with Wyoming in the Mountain Division.
Colorado State owns a 9-2 edge in the all-time series, but it was Nevada that posted a convincing 51-6 win in the most recent matchup back in 2010. The Pack is 0-6 in the series on the road.
The Wolf Pack was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time last Saturday night as they suffered the double-digit loss at 16th-ranked Fresno State.
Nevada actually scored the first points of the night and frustrated the Bulldogs from time to time, but in the end the squad just could not slow down Derek Carr who threw for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns.
Nevada's Cody Fajardo had his ups-and-downs as he completed 14-of-24 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, was sacked three times and tossed an interception. The signal caller also led the team in rushing with 98 yards on 17 carries. Brandon Wimberly did continue to show why he has to be considered one of the top receivers in the league though, as he reeled in six balls for 74 yards and a score.
With a catch this weekend Wimberly will extend his consecutive games streak with at least one reception to 50 straight, encompassing his entire career with the Pack. With 67 grabs for 696 yards and six TDs, Wimberly is clearly the top receiving option for Fajardo who is hitting his throws at a 66.9 percent clip. Fajardo has just 11 TDs through the air, but the good news is that he doesn't make many mistakes, tossing just two interceptions on 251 attempts.
While Fajardo can be a one-man wrecking machine on offense, the defense is a different story for the Wolf Pack as they rank 121st in the country with 257.7 ypg allowed on the ground, and 119th in overall defense (513.1 ypg).
The Rams opened their meeting against Boise State with 10 straight points, but that was before CSU surrendered 21 points in the second quarter and went on to lose by 12 at home. Controlling the action for 40 minutes as they generated more than 600 yards of offense on 109 plays from scrimmage, the Rams leaned heavily on Kapri Bibbs who carried the ball 25 times for just 69 yards, but scored three touchdowns for the hosts.
Quarterback Garrett Grayson converted 36-of-53 passes for 397 yards and a touchdown as well, but in the end CSU simply could not stop an efficient BSU passing attack that accounted for 305 yards and five TDs. With an additional 48 yards rushing Grayson set the single-game record of total offense for the Rams, eclipsing the old mark of 416 yards set by Bradlee Van Pelt more than a decade ago.
As much as Grayson has grown this season, more of the focus tends to fall on Bibbs and whether or not opponents can slow him down. Averaging 92.9 ypg on the ground, Bibbs has almost twice as many rushing touchdowns (15) as CSU's opponents (eight) through nine games.
Unfortunately for the Rams, even if Grayson and Bibbs are at the top of their game this weekend, the hosts could still fall flat if the defense doesn't perform well, particularly when it comes to stopping the pass. Opponents have lit up the skies with 309.6 ypg versus the Rams, leaving them near the bottom of the FBS in trying to slow such attacks.
Fajardo will have plenty of opportunities to exploit Colorado State with his arm, but playing on the road will still work against the Wolf Pack, enough that the Rams should come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 35, Nevada 27
Saturday, November 9, 3:30 p.m. (et).