It was supposed to be a blow out. Most experts had the Red Raiders over Nevada by three or more scores. After all, Texas Tech had racked up huge scores in their first two games. It was anything but.
In fact, a missed field goal was all that prevented the Nevada Wolf Pack from pulling off the upset of the day. For most of the game Nevada was in the lead, and at one point was up 21-7 only to see the game slip away with seconds left as Texas Tech escaped 35-34.
As heartbreaking as the loss must be for the Wolf Pack, they have to feel good about their performance. Nevada dominated the stats. The Wolf Pack had 26 first downs to the Red Raiders 24.
Nevada managed 562 yards of total offense to Texas Tech's 441. Nevada also bested Texas Tech in the air going 15-for-24 for 250 yards compared to the Raiders 26-for-38 and 222 yard performance. On the ground, the Wolf Pack, out-rushed the Raiders 312 to 219 yards.
Senior QB Tyler Lantrip had his best performance yet going 11-for-18 and 191 yards with one TD and no interceptions. The game saw the emergence of red shirt freshman QB Cory Fajardo who was 4-for-6 for 59 yards with one TD and no interceptions. He also rushed for two scores. Mike Ball had 27 carries for 139 yards while Fajardo rushed for 139 yards including a 56 yard scamper.
A missed field goal in the first half was all that separated the Nevada Wolf Pack from a huge upset win. After a scoreless first quarter, Nevada erupted in the second quarter and took a healthy lead into halftime. But Texas Tech came back in the second half catching Nevada in the final seconds.
After getting blown out by Oregon in Week 1 and squeaking by San Jose State last week, no one expected Nevada to do this well against an undefeated Big 12 team. But in retrospect, Nevada's performance today might not have been so surprising.
After all, Nevada did move the ball well against Oregon amassing some 560 yards of total offense. They just could not score. Against San Jose State, their performance was better. They actually dominated the Spartans but nearly gave the game away with mistakes.
The Wolf Pack looked the best so far this season in this near upset. They made fewer mistakes and had no turnovers. They can take away some much needed confidence and experience from this game.
Nevada faces Boise State next week in Idaho. Judging from what we saw today, the Wolf Pack may put up a better fight than expected.
These first four weeks for Nevada will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. By this time next week, Nevada will have faced three of the best teams in the country on the road. They will be well prepared for the rest of the WAC.
I am still calling for a 9-3 season with an outright WAC Championship. Today's game should make the rest of the WAC take notice. This Wolf Pack is starting to come together.