By Chris Boline

All year long, people thought Nevada had lost its rushing magic. However, against San Jose State, the Wolf Pack showed that they were just lying dormant for the right moment.

Facing former quarterback David Fales and the high-flying Spartans, Nevada racked up over 311 team rushing yards. This was mostly thanks to the combined efforts of Cody Fajardo (104), Kendall Brock (85) and Don Jackson (80) and kept Fales and the San Jose State offense on the sidelines. While the quarterback passed for over 300 passing yards, it was not enough for the Spartans to beat the Wolf Pack at home.

However, with the final game of the season approaching, Nevada will have an extra week to prepare for the rushing armada that is BYU and a familiar face to the northern Nevada area.

Hill and Williams lead running attack

As the 12th best rushing team in the nation (265.4 ypg), the Cougars’ would be considerably less effective without quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams. Hill is a sophomore from Idaho and has been on a rampage since acquiring the starting spot. The quarterback has been a big part of wins for the Cougars this season, especially against Texas (259 rushing yards), at Houston (417 passing yards) and against Boise State (four total touchdowns).

Running back Jamaal Williams will be nearly as critical as Hill if Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall wants to keep the Wolf Pack off the field. Williams has been the bell cow (172 rushes) of the offense this year and has averaged over 100 yards rushing this season. He would be the team’s leading rusher, if not for accruing any stats against Middle Tennessee earlier in the year.

While the Cougars certainly have enough firepower on the ground, they do feature wide receiver Cody Hoffman who has amassed 3,382 receiving yards in his four-year career in Provo. While he did not participate in two games this season, the senior still leads the team in receiving yards (664) and touchdowns (five).

Van Noy and ‘Unga spearhead defense

For Heisman darkhorse and Nagurski award front-runner Kyle Van Noy, the game against Nevada will have special meaning. It will be the first time the McQueen High School graduate will be playing in Reno since high school. The senior linebacker has been a wrecking ball this season, racking up 15 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and an impressive 13 hits on the quarterback.

Van Noy isn’t the only Cougar linebacker making noise this season. Fellow member of the front seven Uani ‘Unga is leading the team in tackles with 106 and is 50 ahead of Van Noy in that column.

For Nevada to be victorious in this game, they must be able to neutralize the BYU edge rushers and hold on to the ball for as long as they can. However, with the Pack only playing for pride in this game, it might just be what they need to end the season on a high note.

Chris Boline can be reached at cboline@