After an underwhelming 2017 campaign, Nevada Football looks to get back to their old success by playing Portland State –a team that went winless in its 11 games last season.
Nevada’s offense was it’s saving grace last season. Quarterback Ty Gangi will be under center again commanding the offense for his senior season. He will have his favorite target McLane Mannix in the slot and Brendan O’Leary-Orange on the outside. The offensive line which was critical to the Pack’s offensive success last season now has concerns regarding veteran Sean Krepsz. Krepsz — who missed the Silver and Blue Spring Game wearing a boot — now has a dislocated elbow and will miss the season opener. Krepsz will be replaced by Kalei Meyer who like many players switched positions in the offseason. Not much has changed off the field for the offense so there should not be much of a change on the field.
The defense is the Wolf Pack’s biggest question going into 2018. The defense was the 11th worst in the nation last season so, it can’t get much worse. Malik Reed moving to linebacker from the defensive line. Nevada’s secondary got depleted during the offseason and hopefully can recover with the new recruits.
Although Norvell will be given a third year to prove himself, this season will be his biggest test. He finally has his own players on the roster, but can he win with them is the question.
Game by Game Predictions
Jay Norvell has great ambitions for the Wolf Pack this season, so much so, in fact, he created the “best home schedule in school history.”
8/31 vs Portland State
Nevada’s first game is against Portland State. As mentioned earlier the Vikings did not win a single game during the 2017 season. The last time the Wolf Pack played an FCS school it lost, that won’t happen. This should be a tune-up game for the offense and a good first test to see what strides Norvell and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel have made during the offseason. Nevada should win.
9/8 @ Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is an average SEC caliber team but still a good team nonetheless. A 9 a.m. Eastern start time may unsettle the Wolf Pack. It should be a good contest but Vanderbilt will most likely come out on top giving Nevada its first loss on the season.
9/15 vs Oregon State
Oregon State is good at baseball, not football. Nevada should defeat a lowly Pac-12 opponent.
9/22 @ Toledo
Year in and year out Toledo is one of the best teams in the MAC. Coming off a conference title last season, the Rockets should be able to handle the Wolf Pack in a high scoring affair.
9/29 @ Air Force
Nevada gave up 550 rushing yards to the Falcons in the loss last season. If Jeff Casteel fixed his defense, it won’t happen again and Nevada won’t give up a game-winning field goal. Nevada wins bringing themselves above .500 on the season.
10/6 vs Fresno
Fresno State was the surprise of the Mountain West last season, so this game should prove if the Bulldogs are a legit Mountain West title contender. Nevada loses but the game will be closer than the experts think.
10/13 vs Boise
Boise State is the best school in the Mountain West. Nevada loses, in a blowout.
10/20 @ Hawai’i
Every team has a bad loss and this might be it for Nevada. Jet lag plus a sneaky good Hawai’i team — that beat Colorado State — leads to potential disaster for the Wolf Pack. The Wolf Pack are going to be in an old-fashion shootout against the Warriors.
10/27 vs SDSU
If Boise State is the best school, San Diego State is the second-best and the best in the West division. The Aztecs are going to demolish the Pack in front of the Reno crowd.
11/10 Vs Colorado State
Colorado State lost to Hawai’i in their season opener. If that indicates how their season is going, Nevada may actually finish with a good record at home make Jay Norvell look good. Nevada wins.
11/17 @ SJSU
San Jose State is the worst team in the Mountain West and Nevada scored almost 60 points against them last season. Nevada wins before going into the most important game of the season.
11/24 @ UNLV
Nevada has won the last two meeting between the schools in the battle for the Fremont Cannon. This game will likely determine the Pack’s fate on a bowl bid. That coupled with the rivalry should propel Nevada to a win and a bowl game.
The good news is Nevada fans can expect to win more than three games this season. The question is will it be just one more, or enough games to get the Pack to its first bowl game since the Arizona Bowl after the 2015 season.
Darion Strugs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.