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Nevada finished second in the MWC West last season (4-4), but that was still four games behind San Diego State. The Wolf Pack had a difficult non-conference slate, which led to a couple losses, but also fell to UNLV and Wyoming in conference play and that resulted in a 7-6 overall record, beating Colorado State in the Arizona Bowl.
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The offense returns a lot of starters, but bring in a new offensive coordinator in Tim Cramsey, who may bring in a new look to the usual Pistol offense. Instead, they'll run a bit more of a spread offense as Cramsey is one of Chip Kelly's disciples. But much like last year, Nevada will likely run the ball a ton behind James Butler (1,345 yards, 10 TDs) and Penn State graduate transfer Akeel Lynch. They had two 1,000-yard rushers a year ago, but Butler should see the majority of carries this season.
To help, the offensive line returns five players with experience. While they struggled some in pass protection, they were solid in the running game and should take a step forward overall led by left tackle Austin Corbett. Last but not least is quarterback Tyler Stewart, who returns after taking every snap a season ago for Nevada, completing 57.1% of his passes for 15 TDs and 7 INTs. His numbers weren't great, but in a different offense, expect better things, especially since his top receivers return in Jerico Richardson (68 receptions, 750 yards, 5 TDs) and Hasaan Henderson (52 receptions, 741 yards, 4 TDs).
The defense was surprisingly the better unit for the Wolf Pack last season led by coordinator Scott Boone in his second year. He'll look to improve on last year's 26.8 points per game allowed, but loses six guys from the front seven. The line has some pieces to work with, but the two-deep is thin, while linebacker has a total of three career starts between the bunch. Redshirt freshman Gabe Sewell is also listed as a starter.
But to help, the secondary is filled with experience, starting with top sophomore safeties Dameon Baber and Asauni Rufus. Cornerback is set too with a couple upperclassmen there.
The schedule is similar to last year for Nevada, but the Wolf Pack will have their chances at three wins in non-conference play with Buffalo and Purdue both being possibilities outside of a road game at Notre Dame. Their MWC road schedule is extremely favorable with New Mexico maybe being their toughest test. The problem is that the Wolf Pack have to get some upsets at home against San Diego State or Utah State.
Even with that schedule, Nevada's over/under is at 7 wins for the entire season (found at 5Dimes). The opportunities will be there for the Wolf Pack to reach eight wins in the regular season, so getting them at seven with a bowl game included seems like a good deal.
2016 Nevada Wolf Pack Football Schedule
Sept. 2 vs. Cal Poly
Sept. 10 at Notre Dame
Sept. 17 vs. Buffalo
Sept. 24 at Purdue
Oct. 1 at Hawaii
Oct. 8 vs. Fresno State
Oct. 15 at San Jose State
Oct. 22 vs. Wyoming
Nov. 5 at New Mexico
Nov. 12 vs. San Diego State
Nov. 19 vs. Utah State
Nov. 26 at UNLV
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