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The Wolf Pack finished 7-2 in 2020 and have 18 starters back to improve on that record. They have scheduled up in the non-conference and that can only help them especially if they can knock off a team from a Power-5 league. They return 9 All-MW players including 6 on the offense. They are solid across the board and just have to figure a way to avoid an upset to a lesser conference team and win the big game they have to get. The chance to get to their first MW title game is within their reach.
Offense: The reigning MW Offensive Player of the Year is quarterback Carson Strong and he is back for an encore in 2021. He threw for 2,858 yards and 27 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions last season. He has two very productive players to throw to in WR, Romeo Doubs (58 catches for 1,002 yards, and 9 TDs) and TE, Cole Turner (49 catches for 605 yards and 9 TDs). An added bonus is Elijah Cooks who missed last season due to an injury. He caught 76 balls for 926 yards and eight TDs in 2019. If that isn’t enough the two returning running backs have rushed for almost 3,300 yards between them and 34 touchdowns. And, finally to top it off, four starters are back on the offensive line.
Defense: The Wolf Pack concentrated heavily on the defensive side of the ball in recruiting and also added four Division 1 transfers to the mix. The defensive front is strong led by All-MV picks Dom Peterson and Sam Hammond. Another All-MW pick is linebacker, Lawson Hall and he will be joined by Daiyan Henley. There are some issues in the secondary with three jobs that are needed to be filled. If this unit gels, then Nevada will be solid on both sides of the ball.
9/4 at California
9/11 Idaho State
9/18 at Kansas State
10/9 New Mexico State
California and K-State are not big-time Power-5 programs but it would still be eye-catching wins especially if the Wolf Pack can win them both. Don’t be surprised if they do. Obviously, they have to win the other two games.
10/2 at Boise State
10/23 at Fresno State
11/6 San Jose State
11/13 at San Diego State
11/20 Air Force
11/27 at Colorado State
The schedule makers are going to make Nevada earn their way to a possible MW title. They have to go on the road and play Boise State and Fresno State which are two of their main competition to win the league. Throw in a trip to San Diego St. and Colorado State and you have a chore ahead of you. There are must wins at home against Hawaii, UNLV, and Air Force, and the game against San Jose State could be for the West Division championship.
Summary: All the ingredients are there for a special season in Reno. There are good players on both sides of the ball with plenty of experience. The problem I see is simple; can this team win the big games they need in order to go to the next level? Their early schedule is brutal and we will know pretty quick if this team will be a contender for the best team in the Group of 5. They have a chance.
Predicted Finish: 1st Place in MW West Division
Overall Record: 10-2
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