Colorado State vs. Nevada Prediction, NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl Preview

    Colorado State vs. Nevada prediction and NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl preview. The Rams and Wolf Pack go at it in the inaugural bowl game.

    December 14, 2015

    It’s the inaugural NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl with a new and unique game in every way. It’s not only Mountain West on Mountain West action, but it’s a digital broadcast on Campus Insiders. Nevada (6-6) comes in playing well, even on a two-game losing streak, while Colorado State (7-5) is looking to close out a big first season under head coach Mike Bobo. Check out the Colorado State vs. Nevada prediction and NOVA Home Loans game preview.

    Colorado State vs. Nevada Game Preview


    Date: Tuesday, December 29

    Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
    Network: Campus Insiders
    Venue: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
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    Why You Need To Care

    Nevada needs this bowl win.

    A win would mean the fourth 7-6 season in five years, while a loss would mean the second losing campaign in three seasons. But more than that, the program desperately needs a new bowl identity after going 4-10 all-sing and with seven losses in the last eight post-season trips going back to 2006.

    It’s not just that Nevada has lost bowls, it’s had some true, puzzling clunkers including a 23-0 loss from out of nowhere to New Mexico in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl, and last season, a strange power outage in a 16-3 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans. But for this year, a win would be a terrific finish after a rocky run with losses to Mountain West dregs UNLV and Wyoming to go along with losses on the road to Utah State and San Diego State to close out the regular season.

    Colorado State got destroyed 45-10 in last season’s Las Vegas Bowl, but it won two of its last three games since losing to Navy in the 2005 Poinsettia. This is just the third bowl appearance since beating Fresno State in the 2008 New Mexico with a win being validation for new head man Mike Bobo after taking over the reins from Jim McElwain.

    So far it’s been a year of almosts for the Rams. On a four-game winning streak coming into the bowl, and winners of five of the last six games, they overcame a rough 2-4 start – it could’ve been so much better with overtime losses to Minnesota and Colorado early on – with a dominant win over Air Force to turn the season around. The offense is balanced, the pass defense solid, and the team just good enough to be considered one of the stars of the Mountain West this season.

    Why Colorado State Will Win

    The balanced offense might be too much for the Wolf Pack D that’s good at times, but not a rock against efficient offenses. The Rams average 196 yards per game on the ground and 221 per game through the air, but the Nevada defensive front should have problems with the effective rushing attack and the secondary that’s been excellent at times might not have an answer for Rashard Higgins and the Ram receiving corps. CSU has too many options to play around with.

    Colorado State’s run defense isn’t anything to chirp about and is almost a lock to give up at least 200 yards, but it can handle that. What it can’t deal with is a balanced team that can take the top off a defense, and that’s not Nevada. The Wolf Pack passing game is wildly inconsistent, usually throwing only when it has to in blowouts. When it’s on – like it was against New Mexico hitting 16-of-19 passes – there’s a problem, but that’s asking for Nevada’s O to be something it’s not.

    Why Nevada Will Win

    Colorado State is way too flaky when it comes to turnover margin. It settled things down a bit after starting out going -14 in the first eight games, and it was +3 late against both Wyoming and New Mexico in key wins, but the Rams will turn the ball over and Nevada has to take advantage. Overall, Colorado State is 113th in the nation in turnover margin, while Nevada is a +8 on the year and was only in the negative once, going a -3 against San Diego State in the regular season finale. Go +3, win the game going 3-0 on the year when hitting the mark.

    The key is to get the ground game going right away. Nevada is 6-0 on the year when running for 230 yards or more, and 0-6 when rushing for under 230. The Rams have allowed 230 rushing yards or more five times in their last nine games.

    Players Who Matter

    Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins didn’t put up a 96-catch, 1,750-yard, 17 touchdown season like he did in 2014, but he still came up with a great campaign with 933 yards and eight touchdowns on a team-high 66 catches. The No. 2 Ram target caught 26 balls in an offense that was a bit more balanced and a bit more productive against the weaker run defense.

    Higgins has been targeted by defenses as the No. 1 guy to stop, and he’s been held in check for the most part with three of his eight touchdown catches coming in the win over UNLV and going three of his last four games without a score. With all signs pointing towards possibly going early to the NFL, he could use one final explosive performance after spending 2014 as a 100-yard machine.

    Nevada’s offense revolves around the 1-2 rushing punch of James Butler and Don Jackson, with the two needing to work in tandem to control the clock and control the game throughout. The 210-pound Jackson hasn’t been much of a home run hitter, and he has just one touchdown run in the last five games, but he’s the 20-carry workhorse to steady the offense. Butler was the main man over the second half of the season, ripping up four 100-yard games in a row in finishing with 1,156 yards and eight scores. He’s the bigger-play back, and he needs to get loose while Jackson does the dirty work.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Can Colorado State stop the run? That’s all that matters in this game – if Nevada runs well, it wins. If it sputters and struggles to keep the chains moving, it loses. The Rams were able to win late in the year despite being run over – New Mexico came up with 268 yards and three scores in the loss – and allowed 24 rushing touchdowns in the last nine games. Colorado State will run well, too, and will come up with a better all-around game to come up with a solid win in what should be a strong, competitive game.

    Colorado State vs. Nevada Prediction

    Final Score: Colorado State 31, Nevada 17, Line: Colorado State -3, o/u: 56

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