Here is Scouts Inc's (ESPN Insider) assessment of the Boise State - Nevada game.
Boise State is given the advantage at: QB, WR, OL, LB, DB, ST, & Coaching.
Nevada is given the advantage at: RB & DL.
As Kevan says, "Join me after the jump to read and discuss Scouts Inc's week 13 preview of Nevada vs Boise State."
Nevada offense vs. Boise State defense
• Nevada wants to establish the ground attack right from start. The Wolf Pack are the No. 1 rushing team in the nation (373.2 ypg) and their "Pistol" formation is obviously tough to defend. The ability to control the clock with the running game and keep the efficient, explosive Boise State offense on the sideline will be key. Nevada must avoid third-and-long situations because the Broncos did a good job last week of disguising blitzes and coverages behind a three-man front, and that does not bode well for a Nevada passing game that is just average.
• The Wolf Pack's running game is by far the toughest mental and physical test Boise State has faced this season. QB Colin Kaepernick is doing an excellent job conducting the Nevada spread attack, and with explosive RB Vai Taua and blue-collar RB Luke Lippincott the unit is clicking on all cylinders. All three have mastered misdirection fakes and can get defensive ends and linebackers flowing, which makes it easier for the offensive line to get in position to seal them off. The Broncos showed some vulnerability defending the edges last week with DEs Ryan Winterswyk and Shea McClellin too quick to pinch down inside and the linebackers taking questionable angles in pursuit. Those areas must be cleaned up because Nevada will exploit any lapses in discipline.
• The Broncos must also show better discipline against the pass. The Boise State defensive line did a poor job of staying in its rush lanes last week, allowing Utah State QB Diondre Borel to break contain and buy time to manufacture a few big plays. Kaepernick is similar to Borel in that he is at his best using his dual-threat qualities to get on the perimeter and create. The Broncos' secondary should have no problems limiting production through the air when Kaepernick throws from the pocket, but if they rush without maintaining gap integrity Kaepernick has the capabilities to make it a long night for the Boise State defense.
Boise State offense vs. Nevada defense
• The Wolf Pack are doing a nice job of slowing opposing teams down on the ground thanks to the quickness and high motors of undersized DTs Zack Madonick and Nate Agaiava. FS Jonathan Amaya diagnoses plays quickly and is extremely effective coming downhill in run support. They will have to be on point because Boise State RBs Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin both went over 100 yards last week behind an athletic offensive line that gets into strong position to cover up defenders. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has been creative with his use of Avery and Martin in the Wildcat, and he has kept defenses honest by mixing in reverses to explosive WR Titus Young. Amaya and the Nevada linebackers must play under control and read their keys well because if they are too quick to pursue and get caught out of position it could be mean big problems. Avery, Martin and Young all have the ability to rip off big gains if they find a crease.
• The Nevada secondary has struggled in coverage thanks to communication breakdowns and missed tackles that have led to big plays, and this week could be more of the same. Broncos QB Kellen Moore has been consistent with his decision-making and is throwing with great rhythm and timing. Young shows great top-end speed on the outside while the 6-foot-3 Austin Pettis has outstanding body control, and they will be a matchup problem for Wolf Pack CBs Isaiah Frey and Doyle Miller. In addition, Amaya has been overaggressive and caught out of position biting on play fakes, so look for Boise State to attack the middle of the field with TEs Tommy Gallarda and Kyle Efaw, especially out of two-tight end sets near the goal line.
• One way Nevada can slow the Broncos down is to turn up the heat on Moore. Pressure early in last week's game disrupted Moore's timing and caused him to lose the strike zone for a time, and at just 6 feet Moore can struggle to see over the rush when the pocket collapses in front of him. However, the Boise State offensive line communicates well and has surrendered only five sacks this season, the lowest total in the nation. The Broncos should have no problems keeping the Wolf Pack's front four at bay so defensive coordinator Nigel Burton will have to be aggressive with his play calling and dial up pressures from the second and third levels even if it means opening up the risk of giving up more big plays.
Key individual matchupNevada QB Colin Kaepernick vs.
Boise State DS George Iloka
Kaepernick is one the nation's top running quarterbacks, a long strider with deceiving top-end speed who can ruin pursuit angles. Iloka has the size, strength and range to counter that but he will be tested mentally. He must get a solid initial read in the backfield and put himself in a favorable position to slow Kaepernick should he keep the ball. In addition, Iloka will have to do a good job of breaking down in the open field against Kaepernick, who isn't the most elusive runner but is shifty and can be tough for defenders to get a firm grasp on. On the flip side, Kaepernick must keep an eye on Iloka when dropping back to pass because Iloka shows above-average instincts in coverage and has enough range to track down errant throws in the middle of the field.
The Wolf Pack have shaken off a slow start and won eight straight entering this week, and Nevada is averaging 59 points in its last three games, so don't be surprised if it keeps pace with Boise's nation's-best scoring offense (44.4 ppg) for a while. Kaepernick is a productive runner and uses his feet to create big-play opportunities as a passer, but the Broncos have the better defense in this matchup and a more efficient quarterback in Moore. Expect Moore to be cool under pressure late in the game and manufacture some late points to help Boise State keep its BCS hopes alive.
Prediction: Broncos 41, Wolf Pack 35