Fresno State has not made many mistakes on defense through four games.
It is ranked first in the Mountain West Conference in scoring and total defense, second against the pass run and third against the run. It is leading the conference in turnovers gained, third-down defense and red zone scoring percentage.
The Bulldogs also have allowed only 12 explosive plays from scrimmage, two rush plays and 10 pass plays, tied for ninth-fewest in the nation.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But accidents do happen – there was one against Idaho that resulted in a 73-yard touchdown pass, another at UCLA that turned into a 45-yard touchdown.
And Nevada, a 12-point underdog playing on its home field, could cause some trouble Saturday night with an offense that takes some big swings.
For the Wolf Pack, it’s not something to bank on in the end result, not with a defense that is allowing 413.2 yards and 36.6 points per game, and especially not if quarterback Ty Gangi is somewhere less than 100 percent. He reportedly has been dealing with leg injuries.
But a big play could change momentum, apply pressure, trigger doubt. String a few of them together and …
Gangi has completed only 59.0 percent of his passes (108 of 183) – 82nd among the top 100 qualifying quarterbacks in the nation.
But the Wolf Pack has 27 explosive pass plays of 20 or more yards, which is second in the Mountain West and tied for sixth in the nation.
Nevada has racked up nearly 60 percent of its passing yards on just 27 plays.
It also has 12 touchdown passes, nine of them explosive plays of 20 or more yards including shots from 58, 73, 47 and 40 yards.
The Bulldogs dealt with a similar issue against Toledo and dismantled an offense that had come in averaging 51.0 points per game.
They didn’t completely shut out Diontae Johnson, the Rockets’ top receiver, like they did UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson. But Johnson had little to no impact on the game, catching just three passes for 21 yards, one of them for 18 yards. He went into the game averaging 20.5 yards on 12 receptions and had four touchdowns.
It could just be more of the same for Fresno State – a question asked and already answered. But they are playing on the road and against an offense that put up 72 points on FCS Portland State and 37 on Oregon State when playing at Mackay Stadium.
The Bulldogs have prepared for it, just as they always do.
“Our philosophy is to always make them earn it instead of giving them any easy plays,” defensive coordinator Bert Watts said.