We’re one day away from the start of the Wolf Pack’s season. Head coach Chris Ault will lead Nevada against Cal in its season opener, a game that should reveal real quick just where the Wolf Pack’s at. But, the team is a huge underdog. Cal is reopening its stadium, so it will want a good game for fans. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is much more knowledgeable about the Pistol Offense. And with a young, but very talented defense, especially in the front seven, quarterback Cody Fajardo will be tested  early and often. Receiver Brandon Wimberly will be expected to make a big splash in his return to give Fajardo some help, as will Stefphon Jefferson, who is taking over the starting running back role.

The wild card will be Bears’ QB Zach Maynard. He’s been all over the place last season. If he can rein that in, Cal’s offense is very dangerous. Keenan Allen caught 98 passes last season and will be Maynard’s top target this year. By all reports, Allen has great speed and great hands, something Nevada’s secondary, led by Duke Williams and Khalid Wooten. The Wolf Pack’s secondary has five players returning. They’ll need all of that experience to slow this offense down. The front seven is where Nevada’s problems could show. If Cal’s offensive line plays well, the Wolf Pack will be in trouble. The front seven is a big question mark and someone will need to step up.

Mainly, this comes down to a series of unknowns for Nevada. Several players are stepping into big roles and we just don’t know how they’re going to react. Cal will be ready and is a very dangerous opponent.

Nevada wins: If the Wolf Pack plays a near perfect game. Fajardo comes out accurate, the front seven on defense plays better than expected and gets to the QB. This needs to be a complete game, if one side of the ball isn’t up to par, Nevada will struggle.

Cal wins: If the Bears disrupt Nevada’s offense. Cal’s going to score its points, no question about it. The difference will be whether Nevada has the firepower to get into a shootout.

Prediction: If Nevada’s going to win this game, it will be in a close one, 41-38. But, my real prediction is Cal wins 34-24.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

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