by Stone Harper

After a week off from play, the Wolf Pack will travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado to take on Air Force, a team that has been in a thorn in Nevada’s side the last two sea- sons. Last September, Nevada defeated Air Force 45-42 in a thrilling game for one of the Wolf Pack’s four wins last season. Two years ago it was a different story. Nevada came into the game 6-2 and left with a 48-31 loss.

This year, Air Force comes into the game with a 7-2 record, including last week’s win over UNLV 48-21. The Falcons also have perhaps the best win in all of the Mountain West Conference when they beat Boise State 28-14 back in September. Not only will this

be an important game in the fact that Air Force has always played Nevada difficult but also because Nevada controls its own destiny and if the Pack wins its remaining three games, it will represent the West in the MWC Championship game.

OWENS CONTINUES TREND OF GOOD MWC RUNNING BACKS

The MWC may not have the most talent or be a power-five conference, but one thing that it does have going for it is that it has some of the best running backs in the country, from Boise State’s Jay Ajayi, to Colorado State’s
Dee Hart and San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.

This week is no different, as they take on Air Force’s Jacobi Owens. This season Owens has rushed for 988 yards and five touchdowns. Owens is fourth in the conference in rushing yards and has seemed to get out of the funk he was in during the middle of season. In the first three weeks of October, Owens rushed for 78 yards, 54 yards and 64 yards respectively but in his last two games he has rushed for a combined 253 yards and a touchdown including last week against UNLV where he rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown. In the Pack’s last game against San Diego State they held the MWC-leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey to 75 yards rushing and forced him to fumble the ball twice. The Wolf Pack will have to have a similar showing against Owens if it expects to be victorious.

PIERCE PACES AIR FORCE DEFENSE

Nevada has yet to face a defensive play- maker like the Falcons’ linebacker Jordan Pierce. This season, Pierce is leading the team in tackles with 81, tackles for loss with 14, sacks with five and is second on the team in interceptions with two. Pierce is a play maker who does it all for the Falcons (he even blocked a kick this year).

Pierce has also been playing really good football in the past few weeks. He has reached double-digit tackles in the last three games and has recorded three sacks in the same timeframe. Last week against UNLV, he had 11 total tackles and a sack.

In the last few weeks, Nevada has not played high quality opponents, and has been able to stall on offense and still be able to come away with a victory. This week it takes on a tough challenge and it will be important for the Pack to come out of the gates firing and in order for that to happen, Nevada will have to stay away from Pierce.

Stone Harper can be reached at sharper@sagebrush. unr.edu. and on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB.