September 11, 2015

RENO, Nev. (AP) Although No. 22 Arizona is easily favored over Nevada, the Wildcats' mediocre season opener did little to discourage the Wolf Pack's belief that they have a chance Saturday to knock off a third Pac-12 opponent in four years.

''We've got our hands full, but I don't think our guys are intimidated. I don't think they are scared by any stretch of the imagination,'' Nevada coach Brian Polian said. ''We are not playing the `85 Bears.''

Both teams beat lesser opponents at home last week.

Sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon passed for 229 yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats' 42-32 win over UTSA. But they gave up 525 yards of offense and lost All-America linebacker Scooby Wright to a knee injury that will sideline him about a month.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said his team must start faster than it did last week.

''We've got to keep our poise,'' he said. ''We've got to not let them control the tempo of the game.''

Nevada's Don Jackson, who ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-17 win over UC Davis, anticipates an electric atmosphere for Saturday afternoon's kickoff in a ''white out'' at Mackay Stadium. ''I expect it to be loud,'' the senior running back said.

Nevada has a little history against the Pac-12 to back up any optimism. The Wolf Pack beat Washington State 24-13 last season, and won at Cal 31-23 in 2012. But its success against the Pac-12 doesn't extend to Arizona. The Wildcats beat Nevada in the 2012 New Mexico Bowl and claimed a hard-fought victory in Tucson last year.

''Hopefully, we can come in with a better attitude this year knowing Nevada is a good team,'' Arizona receiver Cayleb Jones said.

Things to watch when Arizona visits Nevada:

THE PISTOL: Nevada senior Tyler Stewart, who opened with 163 yards passing and a touchdown, beat out redshirt freshman Hunter Fralick for the job running the ''Pistol offense.'' It's the offense that last year helped Cody Fajardo join Nevada alum Colin Kaepernick as the NCAA's only two career passers to throw for 9,000 yards and run for 3,000.

BRUISING BACKS: Arizona's Nick Wilson, a 5-foot-10, 199-pound sophomore, ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns against Nevada last year. ''He's got speed and he can make people miss,'' Polian said, ''but when he needs to, he will run behind his pads and punish you for trying to tackle him.'' Nevada guard Jeremy Macauley loves to block for Jackson, a 5-10, 210-pound senior who averaged 9.5 yards per carry last week: ''We know he's going to run his tail off and that just drives us up front when you see a back work like that.''

WIDE OPEN WILDCATS: Polian said it will take a total defensive effort to keep up with all of Arizona's explosive weapons and keep the running attack in check. ''We've got to stop the run first. If we don't, we'll get a steady dose of it,'' he said. ''We cannot allow a 5-yard hitch or slant to become a 45-yard catch and run.''

STRONGER IS BETTER: Arizona looks bigger to Polian this year. ''Their strength staff is doing a great job. There's some guys last year that looked like young football players that look like grown men now.''

BRINGING THE HEAT: Nevada often enjoys an advantage against opponents not accustomed to playing at Reno's elevation of 4,300 feet. But Arizona may have an edge Saturday with the game-time temperature forecast in the mid-90s. ''In Tucson, there's a chance it could be 106 at 8:30 in the morning,'' Polian said. ''It's not going to bother them.''


AP college football website:

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