NCAA Friday Night Football: Nevada/San Jose State Preview

by Alec McMordie

The college football nightcap Friday is on the CBS Sports Network at 10 PM ET with a spot in the Mountain West Conference championship game at stake. Nevada faces off against San Jose State with the Spartans designated as the home team at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

San Jose State has relocated to Las Vegas, given Santa Clara County ordinances prohibiting contact sports given COVID concerns. They are temporarily sharing Sam Boyd Stadium as their home along with New Mexico who is also dealing with local prohibitions of contact sports.

The Spartans raised their record to a 5-0 mark with their 35-25 win at Hawai’i last week. Running backs Tyler Nevens and Kairee Robinson combined to rush for 263 yards. Nick Starkel completed only 11 of his 23 passes of 167 yards, but he did toss two touchdown passes to one interception. The former Texas A&M and Arkansas quarterback is completing 66.2% of his passes for 1147 yards with 11 touchdown passes and three interceptions. He leads an offense that is scoring 30.4 points-per-game and averaging 419.2 yards-per-game.

The strength of this Spartans’ team in head coach Brent Brennan’s fourth year with the program is their defense. San Jose State is 12th in the nation by allowing only 17.0 points-per-game and the 347.2 yards-per-game they are giving up is 30th in the country. The Spartans have registered 15 sacks in their five games. This team did catch perhaps two lucky breaks with their games against Fresno State and Boise State canceled because of COVID issues. Those teams have respective 3-2 and 4-1 winning records on the season.

Nevada is a game behind in the loss column from San Jose State with a 6-1 mark after they defeated Fresno State last week by a 37-26 score. Sophomore quarterback Carson Strong completed 23 of 39 passes for 354 yards with five touchdown passes and two interceptions to lead the Wolf Pack to the victory. Nevada won that game despite giving up 599 yards, including 485 yards in the air. While the Spartans have evolved into a physical running team, Starkel did passes for 467 yards against New Mexico in October.

Strong is completing 69.5% of his passes for 2327 yards with 21 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He leads an offense that is scoring 31.3 points-per-game while averaging 442.1 yards-per-game. The Wolf Pack are ninth in the nation by averaging 334.4 passing yards-per-game. Nevada is allowing 21.9 points-per-game along with 361.1 yards-per-game. Their lone loss was at Hawai’i by a 24-21 score.

The winner of this game will play in the Mountain West Conference championship game next week. San Jose State will host the game at Sam Boyd with a win. The Spartans still advance with a loss in this game if Boise State loses to Wyoming tomorrow. Nevada would host that game in Reno. The Wolf Pack plays Boise State if both those teams win this week.

San Jose State opened as the favorite, but line movement at BookMaker now has Nevada as a 1.5-point favorite with the total at 59.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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