Nevada (-9.5) @ New Mexico State (O/U 50.5)
The hiring of Jay Norvell away to Colorado State, an in-conference opponent, is sure to set the Wolfpack back for a handful of years. In 2022, they return 25% of last year’s production, ranking last in the nation. The mass exodus of talent impacted both sides of the ball, but none more than the skill position players, which lost QB Clay Millen, three WRs that played over 500 snaps in 2021, and WR Elijah Cooks, who, when healthy, is one of the more dynamic receivers in the conference.
This team will struggle to move the ball on offense under QB Nate Cox (or Shane Illingworth). In his only 2021 start, he went 12/23 for 121 yards, a TD, and an INT against Western Michigan. Assuming he starts Week 0, he gets a poor NMSU defense but has been less than inspiring. Even so, his receiving weapons borders on poor to dreadful. Including transfers, they have one player who has started more than two career games, Arizona transfer BJ Casteel.
The offense will almost assuredly flow through RB Toa Taua this week, and while he’s the best skill position player on the offense, he’s running behind an offensive line that ranks bottom-10 in the nation heading into the season. The projected starters have seven career starts among the five, and only one played significant snaps last season in five starts.
Nevada’s defense is the better of the two units, highlighted by their defensive line. DT Dom Peterson is the best player on this team and will wreak havoc in this matchup against a poor New Mexico State offensive line. However, the rest of the front seven features three career starts among the other six players. The secondary is slightly stronger and returns the most experienced group despite featuring only one starter from last year’s team.