Nevada (4-3) at Hawaii (2-5) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aloha Stadium (50,000) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: Oceanic Pay-Per-View. Home Record: Nevada 2-2, Hawaii 2-2. Away Record: Nevada 2-1, Hawaii 0-3. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Conference Record: Nevada 1-2, Hawaii 1-1. Series Record: Nevada leads, 10-8.
GAME NOTES: On the road for the second time in as many weeks, the Nevada Wolf Pack descend on Aloha Stadium on Saturday night as they clash with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in Mountain West Conference play.
Outside of Reno this season the Pack is 2-1, thanks in part to a 42-35 victory over BYU in non-conference play last weekend in Provo, Utah. The win served to snap a two-game slide for Nevada and pushed the program back over .500 for the first time since late September.
As for the Rainbow Warriors, they have a total of just two victories in seven chances so far this season and one of those came against an opponent outside of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Last weekend, the team was again on the mainland and was treated to a 20-10 defeat at the hands of the San Diego State Aztecs. Not only was it the third loss in the last four games overall, it was the 16th consecutive loss on the road for Hawaii.
The last road win for the Warriors was a 16-14 decision over Idaho on Oct. 29, 2011 while both programs were still members of the Western Athletic Conference.
The Pack is ahead in the all-time series by a count of 10-8, thanks in part to the 31-9 victory the squad recorded at home in Reno last season.
Trailing for a good part of the game against BYU last week, the Pack began to show signs of life in the second half as it outscored the hosts by a 29-7 margin, thanks to quarterback Cody Fajardo who ran for two touchdowns and passed for another after intermission to push Nevada into the win column.
Fajardo finished the meeting 26-of-40 for 285 yards through the air, adding another 47 net rushing yards. James Butler carried the ball nine times for a mere 19 yards, but like Fajardo he too scored twice on the ground for the visitors.
Defensively, the Wolf Pack recorded a total of seven tackles for loss, including six sacks. Ian Seau posted two of those sacks and forced a fumble, while Brett Hekking was credited with 1.5 sacks and a fumble return for 19 yards. Through seven games, Hekking now has four sacks, second only to Seau who has posted five on just 19 total stops.
While Hekking and Seau have been getting in their shots against opposing quarterbacks, the fact remains that the pass defense for Nevada ranks 122nd in the country this week with a massive 321.0 ypg. The run defense is permitting a more respectable 161.3 ypg, but put it all together and the Pack is being burned for 482.3 ypg (114th in the nation).
Fajardo has been trying to balance the scales with both his arm and his legs, and for the most part he and the Pack have been coming out ahead. With 62.3 percent passing accuracy, Fajardo has 10 TDs against six interceptions. On the ground, the signal caller is second on the team with 452 yards, on 85 carries, leading to a team-best eight scores.
In the late game last Saturday night, the Warriors fell behind by double figures in the first period and never recovered, falling to San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium by 10 points. Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey converted 17 of his 31 pass attempts for a mere 174 yards and a score, but was also intercepted twice by the Aztecs.
Steven Lakalaka accounted for a team-best 58 net rushing yards, but that paled in comparison to the 283 yards rung up by SDSU ball carriers. Hawaii was credited with just four tackles for loss and a single sack, the latter logged by Marcus Malepeai.
Hawaii is averaging two sacks per contest at this juncture, with Malepeai leading the way with three, even though he has appeared in just five games and made a total of 14 stops. Further up on the tackles list is Taz Stevenson with a team-best 54 tackles, registering double-digit stops against both Washington and Colorado.
On offense, the Warriors were due to get back Joey Iosefa to help support the running attack, after being out with an ankle injury since the second week of September, but he has recently been suspended for three games due to a DUI arrest. With Iosefa out of the picture still, that means Lakalaka (504 yards) continues to shoulder the load.
Woolsey, one of three quarterbacks to throw passes for the team this season, has an efficiency rating of just 100.1 due to having converted only 48.8 percent of his attempts for six TDs, against four picks.
With as much fire power as Fajardo and the rest of the Wolf Pack bring to the field every week, against a lacking opponent such as Hawaii, this should be an easy outing for the visitors.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 38, Hawaii 17Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 25, 11:59 p.m. (ET).