The matchup: Northwestern Wildcats at Nevada Wolf Pack
The line: Nevada -7, total set at 46 ½
Wind could be a factor in tonight`s affair.
Weather forecasts in Reno are calling for winds traveling northeast at 15 mph at game time. In a stadium that is primarily open on the end zones, this could hamper both team’s passing and kicking games.
Game time temperature is expected to be in the low 60`s with a zero percent chance of precipitation.
Mike Kafka appeared to have lost his starting quarterback job in Northwestern’s win over Eastern Michigan last week, but the redshirt freshman has been named the starter for Friday’s game by Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Kafka, a dual threat who spent just one year at quarterback in high school, was yanked at halftime last week after going 10 of 18 passing for 76 yards and one interception. He ran for a touchdown and picked up 33 yards on five carries.
His replacement, fellow redshirt freshman Andrew Brewer, was six of eight passing for 34 yards without a major or a pick. Brewer had 26 rushing yards on 15 attempts and ran for a touchdown.
Red hot Rowe
There is no QB controversy at Nevada, where senior Jeff Rowe is on the verge of re-writing most of the Wolf Pack’s all-time passing records.
Rowe, who could become an NFL draft pick this spring, dominated the Colorado State defense last week when he was 20-of-23 passing for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed the ball 14 times for 42 yards.
Impact rookie at running back
Nevada`s Brandon Fragger started his college football career slowly, but last week the freshman running back showed he can be used to carry or catch the ball when he caught an 11-yard scoring pass in the Pack’s win over Colorado State.
“After every game my confidence is building, especially after that touchdown,” Fragger told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
After scoring on his first reception of the season, Fragger could play a bigger role in the Pack’s offense against Northwestern. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder averaged nearly nine yards per carry and scored 23 touchdowns as a high school senior.
Wildcats tough to run against
Even with Fragger’s emergence as a playmaker, senior running back Robert Hubbard will get the bulk of the carries for Nevada on Friday. Hubbard is averaging five yards per carry and has run for 262 yards and one touchdown so far this season.
He’ll be up against a solid run defense this week, however. Northwestern held Eastern Michigan to 87 yards on the ground last week and on the season have allowed opponents an average of 3.1 yards per carry.
The Northwestern defense has been good all around. In two of their three games, they’ve held the opposition to fewer than seven points. The last time the Wildcats accomplished this was in 1995.
Leaving work early
The mayor of Reno wants a packed Mackay Stadium when the Wolf Pack host the Wildcats on national television, so he’s asking employers to give their employees the afternoon off on Friday.
The game starts at 5:05 p.m. local time in Reno, so many football fans could wind up getting to the game after the opening kickoff. But Mayor Bob Cashell’s plea to businesses to close early Friday could help fill the stadium by the time cameras start rolling.
“I wish I just had the authority to say, ‘Lock up,’” Cashell told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I`d like to have everybody show their spirit. It`s time to get behind the Pack.”
Coach dislikes Friday night football
While the mayor of Reno is excited about Friday night football, Nevada coach Chris Ault doesn’t hide his distaste for it.
“I think college football is a Saturday event,” Ault told reporters. “That`s where it should be. Fortunately or unfortunately, television has taken over the market. And they tell you when you`re going to play.”
This is Nevada’s second Friday night game of the year, after they opened the season with a loss to Fresno State on Sept. 1. Northwestern began the season on a Thursday when they visited Miami-Ohio on Aug. 31, but have played on Saturdays since.
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