|College Football: Hawaii at Nevada Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 15 November 2007 15:00|
Will Brennan Be Ready?
Nevada's defense might not be able to stop Colt Brennan from becoming the all-time NCAA leader in touchdown passes. It remains to be seen whether doctors can hold him back.
The Hawaii quarterback is expected to be a game-time decision Friday night when the No. 13 Warriors seek to remain unbeaten as they visit the Wolf Pack.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Hawaii -8 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Friday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Hawaii -8 (View College Football bet percentages).
Brennan tied Ty Detmer's NCAA touchdown pass record in Saturday night's 37-30 victory over Fresno State, as he threw a pair of TDs to increase his career total to 121. Brennan went 28-for-39 for 396 yards, but was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a mild concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Bulldogs linebacker Marcus Riley.
Despite being held out of practice Monday, Brennan declared he'd be ready to face Nevada. Hawaii (9-0, 6-0 Western Athletic Conference) coach June Jones, though, wasn't so sure.
"I've talked to a bunch of specialists,'' Jones said. "It's a little more complicated than it used to be, when they give some smelling salts and they send you back in. We'll do what's best for him.''
Brennan, who has thrown his 121 touchdown passes in 34 games - 12 games fewer than it took Detmer while at Brigham Young - said he would be ready to play, was suffering no symptoms from the concussion and felt 'normal.'
"I just got to hope that I continue to get better and feel good,'' he said. "Hopefully Friday, I can get cleared. That's all I'm waiting for."
With Brennan under center, the Warriors are in the midst of a dream season. They are, along with No. 4 Kansas, one of only two unbeatens remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision. With a victory Friday, they would become 10-0 for only the second time in their history, matching the 1925 team that finished 10-0.
If Brennan can play and throws a TD pass Friday, he would tie another NCAA record set by Detmer, by throwing for a touchdown in his 35th consecutive game. During his senior season, Brennan has thrown for 3,216 yards and 28 touchdowns, a year after passing for 5,549 yards and setting a Division I-A record with 58 TD passes.
Brennan has put up outstanding numbers in two career games versus the Wolf Pack, completing 65-of-90 passes for 828 yards, seven TDs and one interception. In last year's meeting, a 41-34 Warriors win at Hawaii, Brennan went 36-for-47 with four TDs and no picks.
However, the Wolf Pack has won all three meetings between these schools in Reno, and holds a 6-5 edge in the series. Since Nevada joined the WAC in 2000, it has alternated wins and losses in its annual matchup with Hawaii as the home team has won every year.
If Brennan is not cleared to play, his backup is senior Tyler Graunke, who completed the only pass he threw for 14 yards last week. Graunke has put up solid numbers in limited action over the last three seasons, completing 60.8 percent of his passes (104-for-171) for 1,541 yards, 13 TDs and six interceptions.
Even if they win this game, the Warriors face a challenging road to an undefeated regular season. Their final two contests are at home but against No. 17 Boise State and Pac-10 opponent Washington. If they finish that schedule with an unblemished record, though, they have a chance at rising four spots to No. 12 in the BCS standings and securing an automatic berth to a top bowl.
"It's NFL playoff time,'' Jones said after beating Fresno State. "You lose, you're out.''
Nevada (5-4, 3-2) boasts one of the few offenses that may be able to keep up with Hawaii's. The Warriors lead the nation with 50.2 points per game, but the Wolf Pack rank 15th with 37.3. In four full games since redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick took over for the injured Nick Graziano, Nevada has averaged 43.8 points.
The Wolf Pack opened the season 2-4, but Kaepernick has led them to three straight wins - most recently a 40-38 victory at New Mexico State on Nov. 2. Kaepernick has completed 81-of-145 passes for 1,248 yards, 13 TDs and only two interceptions, giving him a 155.0 passer rating that ranks 10th in the nation. He also has five rushing touchdowns.
Kaepernick's excellent play has Nevada in contention for a third consecutive bowl bid, although Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault is not yet ready to entertain such thoughts.
"We'd better not be thinking about a bowl,'' Ault said. "We have Hawaii first."
Nevada's schedule appears easier after facing the Warriors, with a road contest at San Jose State next week followed by a Dec. 1 home matchup with Louisiana Tech to close out the regular season.
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