The Quick Lane Bowl was going to feature two of the nation’s most electric offenses. However, the story quickly changed (pun intended).
Projected NFL draft pick Carson Strong opted out of the Wolfpack’s bowl game, immediately moving the line way towards the Broncos.
That leaves Western Michigan’s Kaleb Eleby as the quarterback to steal the show. He tossed for over 3,000 yards en route to WMU’s 7-5 record.
There’s plenty of other opt-out news to sift through to come up with a solid handicap. So, let’s get into it.
Western Michigan vs. Nevada Betting Odds
Western Michigan Broncos Odds
Behind Eleby, receiver Skyy Moore, and running back Sean Taylor, Western Michigan was the MAC’s best offense. Over 1,000 of Eleby’s 3,000 yards went to Moore, while Taylor racked up a 1000-yard season himself on over six yards per carry.
The Broncos trailed only Kent State in total yards per game (463.8) with a top-15 offensive Success Rate. And although Eleby was excellent, the offense dominated methodically.
Behind an offensive line that finished 15th in Line Yards, Taylor and the Broncos finished top-15 in Rush Success Rate and Standard Downs Success Rate. Plus, the team rarely created explosive plays despite dropping 30 points per game.
On the contrary, the Broncos gave up big plays left and right. The Broncos finished 111th in preventing Big Plays on defense, allowing almost six yards per play as a result.
The rest of the advanced stats were better, but the PFF analysts were very low on Western Michigan. The Broncos finished 114th in PFF’s coverage grades and 116th in the tackling grades.
The Broncos stormed out to a 4-1 record this season, but regression came quick, and they lost four of their final seven. Western Michigan did cap off the regular season with a victory over eventual the MAC champion in NIU, but the team left wins on the board.
Nevada Wolfpack Betting Odds
Okay. There is a ton to unpack here.
Head coach Jay Norvell took the job with Colorado State. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Brian Ward will coordinate the defense at Washington State.
Perhaps more intriguing is that Nevada’s offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, wide receivers coach, tight ends coach, and special teams coach are going with Norvell to Colorado state.
That leaves the Wolfpack’s running backs coach, Vai Taua, to serve as interim head coach for the Quick Lane bowl.
Meanwhile, outside of star quarterback Strong sitting out, the following players have already hit the transfer portal:
– WR Melquan Stovall
– WR Justin Lockhart
– RG Gray Davis
– LB Daiyan Henley
– CB AJ King
– LT Jacob Gardner
– LB Lamin Touray
That encompasses seven starters, including two on the offensive line, and three All-Mountain West Players.
So, how do you even handicap the Wolfpack here? We don’t really know who is starting, who is coaching, and how good they are.
Western Michigan vs. Nevada Prediction and Pick
My Pick: Tease Western Michigan down to -1
With so much unknown in the Nevada clubhouse, Western Michigan is the smart pick to win this game. However, laying a full touchdown with a MAC team isn’t overly appealing to me.
But this is an ideal Stanford Wong teaser spot. We’ll be teasing the Broncos across the key numbers of 7, 6, and 3. And we know the Broncos will move the ball on Nevada’s second-string squad, especially when the first-teamers finished among the bottom-20 teams in defensive Rush Success Rate and defensive Line Yards.
Here’s a list of bowl teams you could consider teasing the Broncos which, all of which would fulfill the Wong teaser classifications:
– East Carolina from +3 to +9
– Houston from +2.5 to +8.5
– Air Force from +1.5 to +7.5
– UCLA from +1.5 to +7.5
– SMU from +2.5 to +8.5
– Pitt from +2.5 to +8.5
– Wisconsin from -7 to -1
– Washington State from +2 to +9
– Boise State from -7.5 to -1.5
– Georgia from -7.5 to -1.5
– Arkansas from +2 to +8
– Oklahoma State from +2 to +8
– Iowa from +2.5 to +8.5
– LSU from +2.5 to +8.5
My personal two favorite options among that group are Georgia (vs. Michigan) and Arkansas (vs. Penn State).