Can Hawaii handle both a potent Nevada offense, and expected cold weather? I don’t believe so. So, for this week’s One bet, $100, I’ll be putting my money on the Wolf Pack, and giving away two points to the Rainbow Warriors.
This bet is the shakiest one I’ve made, and is putting my 4-0 undefeated streak in jeopardy. There are some factors, however, that I believe favor Nevada over Hawaii in this Mountain West Conference opener.
One Bet, $100
This Week’s Pick Last Week’s Result Season Total
Nevada -2 Won Wisconsin -3 4-0, Up $360
The first is the location and time of the game. Playing at Nevada’s Makay Stadium in Reno is a definite advantage for the Wolf Pack, and it’s not just because of the home crowd. The venue is at 4,610 feet elevation, much different than the near sea-level height of Aloha Stadium.
Playing at 7:30 p.m. should also favor Nevada. Hawaii will get to Nevada early in the hopes of adjusting to the time difference, but Nevada players will be in their own beds up until game day.
Wolf Pack running back Kelton Moore told the Nevada Appeal these factors should benefit him, and his teammates.
“It’s a little different,” Moore said. “It gives you more time to rest and more time to mentally prepare. And you can also spend the day watching other college football games. That helps get you pumped up to play your game that night.”
Hawaii to get Chilly Reception
The sun soaked Hawaii team, which is accustomed to playing in sunny, cloudless conditions at home, will see the exact opposite Saturday night. The temperature is expected to be in the mid-30s at kickoff. Rain and snow showers are also in the forecast.
Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said his players know what to expect.
“It’s going to be a little cool, which is good,” Norvell told the Nevada Appeal. “And I wouldn’t mind if it rained, too, to be honest.”
Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich is familiar with the climate. He was the offensive coordinator at Nevada from 2012-15, and said it will be hard to get his players acclimated to the conditions.
“It’s up in the mountains,” Rolovich said. “It could be cold. We’re playing at night, and it could be wet. So that’s a built-in, home-field advantage for them.”
History, QB Favors Nevada
Hawaii has struggled outside of its home stadium, especially in Nevada. The Rainbow Warriors are 1-7 straight up against the Wolf Pack in their last eight games, and 1-6-1 against the spread. At Mackay Stadium, Hawaii is 1-8, and 1-7-1 ATS there.
Nevada also has the advantage of having three quality quarterbacks. Carson Strong started the first three games for the Wolf Pack, winning two and losing one. He sat out last weekend to rest up from being banged around. Norvell went with backup Cristian Solano, who completed 13-of-19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, and who also rushed 10 times for 100 yards. Third-string quarterback Malik Henry also played in the win against Texas-El Paso.
“We’re fortunate that we do have three quarterbacks that can play, and I really feel that we could win games with any of the three,” Norvell said. “We’re different with all three. We can play all three on Saturday, or we can just play just one.”
Why Nevada Will Win
Hawaii also has a very good quarterback in Cole McDonald, but he’s mistake prone. He has nine interceptions this season. If a weak secondary can cause some turnovers, Nevada should be able to take advantage of the miscues.
The Rainbow Warrior defense is susceptible to the run, and is last in the conference in run defense. The Wolf Pack won last year, 40-22 in Hawaii, and should do the same at home on Saturday.
“We’re just excited to play a divisional game, a conference game that really means a lot,” Norvell said. “Now the season steps up another notch. I want our kids to feel a sense of urgency. This is the time of year we’ve really focused on.”