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2018

Nevada Wolf Pack

College Football

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Jay Norvell would’ve liked for things to go smoother in his first season as Nevada head coach, but behind a defense that ranked near the bottom in most categories, it managed a 3-9 record. Better things are expected for the Wolf Pack with improvement on both sides of the ball and that could mean a bowl berth. At least that’s what bookmakers are projecting with an over/under of six wins and middle-of-the-pack +2600 odds to win the MWC (at 5Dimes Sportsbook).

The new Pack Attack offense started to gel in MWC play last year and that led to a few big outings, but that was also due to facing weaker defenses like SJSU and Air Force. Either way, quarterback Ty Gangi (25 TDs, 11 INTs) is expected to have some of the best numbers in the conference with wide outs McLane Mannix (57 receptions, 778 yards, 6 TDs) and Brendan O’Leary-Orange (618 yards) the main receiving options. The Wolf Pack would like to run more, but they lost their stud left tackle to the NFL and it may take some time for that group to figure things out, although senior center Sean Krepsz could find his name called in the draft next year, as well. Kelton Moore (855 yards) and Jaxson Kincaide (295 yards) will again lead the backfield even though some high-level freshman will compete for time. After averaging 28.2 points per game last year, that number should hit 30 at a minimum.

The question is if the defense can be good enough to hold opponents down and win games. The Pack allowed close to 34 points per game, which was the second-worst rate in the MWC. There is plenty of room to improve with seven returning starters, which includes talent at every level to go with some incoming JUCO transfers. Malik Reed is expected to have a bigger role after moving to linebacker from end, while the secondary has all-conference performers in safeties Dameon Baber and Asauni Rufus. A lot of the back end’s success will depend on the progression of the line, though, as Korey Rush takes up a bigger role at end and Hausia Sekona hopes to plug some holes at tackle.

To help in the quest for a bowl, the non-conference slate is a bit easier than a year ago. The trips to Vandy and Toledo will be tough, but neither is impossible, and the Wolf Pack should get past Oregon State. Then again, this team lost at home to Idaho State last season. Their MWC goal will be to reach four wins, which could get interesting due to the best teams coming to Mackay Stadium and all of the weaker ones on the road. Nevada needs to beat CSU in November or could lose all four of its home games, while every road game is against a team projected to finish worse than them in the standings. That only leads to risk when betting Nevada, especially with its 1-13 record in its last 14 road games. But if the offense gets to another level behind Gangi and the defense isn’t a complete sieve, the Wolf Pack could be headed for three road wins, if not more, and that should be enough to reach a bowl.

 

2018 Nevada Wolf Pack Football Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. Portland State 

Sept. 8 at Vanderbilt

Sept. 15 vs. Oregon State

Sept. 22 at Toledo

Sept. 29 at Air Force

Oct. 6 vs. Fresno State

Oct. 13 vs. Boise State

Oct. 20 at Hawai’i

Oct. 27 vs. San Diego State

Nov. 10 vs. Colorado State

Nov. 17 at San Jose State

Nov. 24 at UNLV

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