Nevada vs. Portland State - 8/31/18 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Portland State Vikings (0-0) at Nevada Wolf Pack (0-0)
College Football: Friday, August 31, 2018 at 9:00 pm (Mackay Stadium)
The Line: Nevada Wolf Pack -24 -- Over/Under: 71 See the Latest Odds
We have some opening week college football action on tap from the Clarence MacKay Stadium in Reno, Nevada, as the Portland State Vikings take on the Nevada Wolf Pack.
The Portland State Vikings will be looking for a confidence building win to kick off their 2018 FCS campaign after going 0-11 last season, including 0-8 in Big Sky conference play. However, the Vikings held their own in a pair of games against FBS opposition, falling to BYU by a final score of 20-6 and narrowly falling to Oregon State in a 35-32 thriller. Jalani Eason and Davis Alexander will be expected to compete for the starting QB job coming into this game after Eason threw for 803 yards and 8 touchdowns on 49% passing last season while Alexander threw for 1,233 yards and 5 scores on 57% passing. The Vikings also had a running back by committee offense last season, led by Jason Talley who racked up 97 carries for 388 yards and 6 TDs last season. However, Carlos Martin is expected to start in the Portland State backfield after excelling in multiple aspects of offense and special teams. Charlie Taumoepeau led the Vikings with 45 catches for 673 yards and 3 scores last season, but have a lack of experience at receiver, with eight returning receivers, only one of whom caught a pass last season.
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The Nevada Wolf Pack will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 2017 campaign in which the Pack finished with a 3-9 overall record, including 3-5 in Mountain West conference play, leaving the Wolf Pack on the outside looking in at bowl season for the second consecutive season. Ty Gangi will be expected to lead the Nevada offense after throwing 25 touchdown passes last season as part of an offense that finished second in the conference in passing yardage and averaged nearly 400 yards of total offense per game last season. The Pack lost Wyatt Demps who led the team in receiving with 67 catches for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, but still have a solid pair of receivers to lead the group in McLane Mannix and Brendan O’Leary-Orange who combined for 96 catches, just under 1,400 receiving yards and 10 TDs last year. Kelton Moore will be the one to lead the Nevada ground game after rushing for over 5 yards per carry last season, but it will be interesting to see if the offense ends up being more balanced rather than a pass-heavy attack this season. Nevada’s defence also has to improve after finishing near the bottom of the country in total defense and have to do so without their leading tackler from last season in Austin Paulhus. However, eight of the top 10 tacklers return and have a bigger defensive line and pass rush than they did last season. The secondary on the other hand has to be better after allowing 263 yards per game through the air last season.
Trends will be updated if/when they’re released.
Nevada has the better offense here, led by Gangi who proved to be a capable arm for the Pack last season. However, although the Vikings were winless last season, and probably aren’t going to win this one either, this is a lot of points to lay considering that the Vikings lost their two FBS opposed games by just 17 combined points last season. Sure, BYU and Oregon State aren’t world beaters, but they’re still higher level opposition than what they would face in the FCS. I need to see what Nevada’s inexperienced receiving corps can do before laying this kind of number so if I was forced to pick this game I’d take a shot with Portland State and the points.