Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Oregon Ducks Pick 9/7/19
Nevada Wolf Pack (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date and Time: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 7:30PM EDT
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
TV: PAC-12 Network
Point Spread: NEV +23/ORE -23 (GTBets)
Over/Under Total: 56
The Nevada Wolf Pack come into Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. These teams had very divergent first games. In the best big game of week one, the Ducks appeared to have a big win within their grasp on the road with the lead against Auburn, before giving up a late TD and losing 27-21. It was a tough pill to swallow, but they can’t afford to sulk now. The Wolf Pack served notice that they won’t be pushed around, beating Purdue at home on Friday, 34-31. Nevada placekicker Brandon Talton kicked a 56-yarder to win it. After the game, it was announced he would earn a scholarship.
Nevada on the Upswing?
The Wolf Pack have come around under third-year coach Jay Norvell, going from 3 wins in 2017 to an 8-5 Bowl-winning season in 2018. To start the season with a win over a Big Ten team as 11-point underdogs at least shows the Wolf Pack are something more than the sacrificial lamb some suspect them to be at this level. We know what we have with Oregon, a good Pac-12 team. But who covers this spread comes down to how good Nevada is. And while them winning or this being a really close game is probably not in the cards, could the Wolf Pack maybe hang in there or register enough big plays to steer the spread into their column?
When starting a freshman quarterback, there are always going to be questions, but Nevada looks to have a winner in Carson Strong. He threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly, he commandeered a comeback when his team entered the 4th quarter down by 14 points. And he did it against a Big Ten team. That’s a pretty awesome debut, considering Strong hadn’t played the position in two seasons, sitting out his senior year in high school and redshirting last season. He has some nice tools around him, with Toa Taua running for a TD and catching eight balls, two TD receptions from Elijah Cooks, along with a deep crew of ball-catchers getting work, which is among the top strengths of the team. It’s not hard imagining them even managing to put up a respectable point-total in this game. But they will be challenged by a tough Oregon secondary, led by game-changing safety Jevon Holland.
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Being Battle Tempered
Both teams are already tested, whereas a lot of other teams get lay-ups in week one. These two teams have already been through the wringer. Nevada enjoyed a sentimental moment when their walk-on kicker booted a long FG to win what was a tough game where they had to come from way off the pace. Oregon was also in a titanic struggle, and even though they melted a bit late, they’ve already been exposed to the fire this season. Nevada is flying high, and Oregon is a bit in the dumps. Could that reflect a little on Saturday? Oregon will be fired-up for their home-opener, but there’s something to be said for having a little wind in your sails. This is the first time in years that Nevada opens up with consecutive games against teams from the Power Five conferences. Part I was a raging success. What will part II look like?
Matchup Issues for Nevada
Well, the matchup issues are team-wide at this level, let’s face it. But one area that could throw their chances of covering into a funk is the Oregon air-attack. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert didn’t have a great game against Auburn but should see his effectiveness go up here. It would have been better for Nevada if Oregon managed to hang on and beat the Tigers last week, as they will be urgent to “right the ship” here. And it might come at the expense of the Nevada defense, namely the secondary. Daniel Brown is a solid corner, but what he has around him is the real concern. And while it’s hard to criticize Nevada winning as big dogs last week, they did allow 423 yards to Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar. The secondary looked decidedly-bad, and they still won in spite of it. Oregon should be able to make some things happen aerially this week. And it might even get ugly for Nevada.
Let’s also not forget that while the Oregon defense faltered late and was far from clutch late, they still managed to stifle the Auburn offense for much of the game, allowing 6 points until late in the third quarter. Needless to say, there is a pretty big gulf from a home Auburn offense and a road Nevada one. Nevada could find the Oregon defense to be a bit much. But working in their favor is the lack of a razor’s edge Oregon seems to have as a typical problem—not taking everything on the table, giving teams unnecessary slack, and simply not getting the most of what they have. And head coach Mario Cristobal’s clock and game management late in games appears to be lacking, as some sager clock-work would have salvaged the Auburn win, not to mention the Stanford win last season. But those things likely won’t manifest here and make no mistake, there are talent-edges in a lot of areas for the Ducks in this matchup that are pronounced.
Take the Points
Oregon should have extra urgency. At the same time, Nevada isn’t likely to face them at a peak state mentally. It being the home-opener throws a different light on what would otherwise be a lukewarm matchup between two teams that have no real connection. I don’t question that Herbert and his various weapons will thrive in this matchup. But maybe Nevada can stem the flow of the run-game ever so slightly while seeing their talented offense register some nice plays over the course of the day. Oregon lost ATS the last three times they were jumbo-sized favorites like this, and it’s not a coincidence. I like the Wolf Pack getting the points.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Nevada Wolf Pack plus 23 points.
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