Take Nevada +18 vs. Arizona for Today's NCAA Football Pick

Willie Bee

Saturday, September 13, 2014 3:44 PM GMT

They may be geographic rivals, but Saturday's NCAA football odds clash in Tucson between Nevada and Arizona is just the third meeting ever between the two schools.

If their bowl meeting a couple of seasons ago is any indication, the Nevada Wolf Pack and Arizona Wildcats need to find a way to schedule each other more often.

Then again, if what I'm seeing right now on SBR's live College Football odds, this matchup of unbeatens isn't going to be that close. Arizona opened as a 2-TD favorite, for the 11 PM (ET) kickoff that will be carried by the Pac-12 Network, and that spread has steadily risen to 18 at most sports books.

While the spread has been boosted, Saturday night's scoreboard barrier has dropped from an initial 65.5 points to 63.5

With such an intense rivalry across the board between the two states, one might think their namesake universities would've gotten together more than twice on the gridiron. This year's collision is only the second scheduled meeting between the schools, the first way back in 1941.

They did duke it out a couple of years ago in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl, and what a barnburner that turned out to be. Favored by 8.5, the Wildcats trailed by 17 entering the final quarter and needed two touchdowns in the closing minute to snuff Nevada's upset hopes, 49-48.

 

Pack Aims To Take Down 2nd-Straight Pac-12 Foe
That heartbreaking loss to Arizona turned out to be the final game at Nevada for legendary head coach Chris Ault who enjoyed three different stints running the sidelines. Ault has since moved on to a consulting role with the Kansas City Chiefs, with Brian Polian taking the reins in Reno.

Polian got off to a decent enough start in 2013, the Wolf Pack winning three of their first five. But the bottom sort of fell out at that point with six setbacks in the final seven contests, the most notable to rival UNLV.

The son of former NFL exec Bill Polian has his squad off to a another good start to 2014, two wins in his pocket so far including a takedown of Washington State last week, 24-13. Having Cody Fajardo back for his fourth season as starting quarterback is a nice luxury for Polian and his staff, but the key to both victories over Southern Utah and Wazzu has been a strong run defense that ranks 30th in the country (97 ypg).

 

'Cats Coming Off Scare In Alamo City
Rich Rodriguez's third year at Arizona has also gotten off to a 2-0 start after the Wildcats survived a big Week 2 scare in San Antonio. Facing an underrated UTSA squad, Arizona needed a late pick to secure a 26-23 win over the Roadrunners who were 8 point home 'dogs.

Anu Solomon, a redshirt freshman out of Las Vegas, commands a balanced offense that ranks fifth in the country averaging 620 yards per game and putting up 42 points per contest. That unit might be without running back Terris Jones-Grigsby for a second straight game after the senior injured an ankle in the Week 1 rout of UNLV.

Saturday's forecast for Tucson looks pretty good, the afternoon high only reaching the low-90s with very dry conditions and mostly clear skies. Look for the thermometer to have dropped into the low-80s around kickoff, and it will be a bit breezy with a 14-17 mph blow from the SE which could affect boots a bit for the team heading to the south end zone.

One thing Arizona hasn't been able to do with any consistency since Rodriguez arrived is cover a spread. Couple that with a decent defense that Polian is putting on the field, and it leads me to make the call for Nevada with my free College Football pick.

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My Free College Football Pick: Nevada +18 at Bodog

Willie Bee's Season Record: 5-5 (-0.50)