Outside of maybe the Idaho Vandals...no Bronco opponent has quite the same history and bad blood as the Nevada Wolf Pack. In the mid-90s, Nevada's coach Chris Ault famously said that if Boise State didn't improve the quality of its players...he saw no reason to continue the "rivalry". Well, Ault now looks like a prophet of sorts as the Broncos DID improve the quality of its players (and coaches, and recruiting, and facilities,etc, etc.) and the the rivalry has continued. The only slight wrinkle being that Boise State has absolutely OWNED the Wolf Pack as of late. 1998 was the last year that the Wolf Pack tasted victory against the Broncos...and since then its been ugly. Boise State has one the last 7 meetings in the series by an average of 38 pts. In fact, last year's BCS-clinching game in Reno was the closest the Pack has come to the Broncos in that span—they lost by 31.
As funny as Ault's past comments seem now...they are still the cause of much fan hatred between the schools—multiplied by the head coaching stint of Vandal "great" Chris Tormey. Ault has been much more complimentary as of late of the Bronco program, but you can see in his aging eyes that he dies a little inside each year the Broncos wipe the floor with this squad. Last year, as Boise State sat at 11-0 after storming their way through their schedule...some prognosticators still felt that the Broncos would be defeated by Nevada. Not so, obviously as the Broncos won 38-7...the Broncos always seem to get "up" for the UNR game...like no other (even Idaho). Maybe the history between the schools (BSU now leads 21-12 all-time) or the fact that the media always seems to think the Wolf Pack will beat the Broncos just gets under BSU's skin. Who knows, maybe it is the fact that the Broncos had to share the title with Nevada in 2005 after beating them 48-14 on the blue. Maybe it's just the fact that the "pistol" seems to backfire against the Broncos?
This year, unfortunately for Nevada, won't be any different. Nevada is coming off a tough home loss to Fresno State and the Broncos our coming off a 58-point shutout of New Mexico State. Nevada's rushing defense is ranked 119th in the country, while Boise State's is ranked 4th. Nevada's total defense is ranked somewhere around 100th and Boise State is 3rd. Now, Nevada does have a pretty good offense, ranking 10th in total yards...but BSU is not far behind at 15th and really...do the Broncos need to put up a lot of yards when our defense has been so prolific in shutting other schools down? UNR is also without their starting QB, Graziano after a freak foot injury ended his season last week. Redshirt freshman Colin Kaepernick will get the start against BSU, and looked pretty good against Fresno, but is probably too young and inexperienced to be thrust into a tough game against an amazingly stout D and expected to do much damage. Kaepernick is supposed to be pretty fleet of foot too, but if he gets too happy with his feet...I fully expect him to run right into Nick Schlekway or Mike T Williams...that will probably slow him down a bit for the night. Also, look for the Broncos to put pressure on the young QB and force him into some errors...namely picks for our stellar DBs.
I don't want to seem like I am giving the Wolf Pack no respect...but given the recent history and the matchups that this game poses—I see this one getting out of hand...yet again. Look for the outstanding trio of Ian Johnson, Jeremy "don't call me 'peanut'" Avery and DJ Harper to get yards in bunches and feast on the porous Nevada run D all night. Also, look for Titus Young to have at least one more 50 yard reception as he seems to be always open when Tharp looks deep. Lastly, look for our secondary to have at least 2 INTs and for Marty Tadman to light someone up.
Boise State 47, UNR 13