The toughest job Nevada football coach Chris Ault might face is not preparing to beat New Mexico State, but making sure his team doesn't overlook the winless Aggies today when they meet at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m., and the Western Athletic Conference game will be shown locally on KREN-TV.
There is plenty at stake for the Pack. A win will make Nevada (5-3, 4-1) bowl eligible for the first time since 1998, and a victory will ensure the Pack enjoys its first winning season since 1998.
"We're in no position to overlook anybody," said Ault. "We're not that good. I look at the tapes and see things that are improving with them (New Mexico State).
"We're in no position to look past anybody. We need to continue to improve. We have a long ways to go. We've stubbed our toes a lot of times when we should have been playing better. My biggest concern is on us."
As for the Aggies, it's been a tough first year for coach Ben Mumme. Saddled with a tough nonconference schedule and a lot of freshmen and sophomores, the Aggies have had a rough first year in the WAC.
Blowouts have been the norm, and close games the exception. New Mexico State has been outscored 214-92 in five WAC contests. No doubt Mumme would like to get at least one win this season.
"You always expect to win some games," Mumme said. "I don't think anybody expects to go winless. We're pretty young. It's kind of a grooming thing. We won't be young forwever. This would be huge if we can get it. They're having a winning season and doing a good job. I called that last summer. They had a lot of guys back and it was Chris Ault's first year back coaching. They went through a tough year.
"They have a unique offense. Their running back (B.J. Mitchell) is having a fine season and the quarterback (Jeff Rowe) is playing well. They do a good job of presenting a balanced attack."
The Aggies limp into this game not knowing who the starting quarterback will be. Royal Gill, a JC transfer, has been the starter most of the year. However, he injured his ankle two weeks ago and his status is still questionable. Joe Vincent, who started in last week's 56-6 loss at Boise State, injured his groin.
"It will be who gets healthy first," Mumme said. "Joey stat-wise had a great first half and a great first quarter. He hurt his groin on one of his scrambles, and as the game went on it tightened up and he couldn't move well. It's a train race (to see who gets healthier first)."
The Aggies do have one of the most underrated backs in the conference in Justine Buries, who has four 100-yard games this year. Buries averages 76.4 rushing yards per game.
"He's an excellent running back," Ault said. "They do a lot of things to get him the ball as much as they can, catching the ball and shovel passes."
"He plays whistle to gun," said Barry Sacks, Nevada's co-defensive coordinator. "He makes great cuts and he's strong. He runs bigger on film than he actually looks."
Ault would love to see his defense, which except for a few big plays last week against Hawai'i, play a solid game. Hawai'i was held to 46 yards rushing, and part of that stemmed from building a big lead early in the second half.
Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281