RENO, Nev. — Colt Brennan has been cleared to play, and that means Nevada could be in for another high-scoring affair.
Brennan, knocked out of No. 13 Hawaii’s game last week, should be taking the snaps for the Bowl Subdivision’s highest-scoring offense when it faces Nevada tonight.
The Wolf Pack went four overtimes before succumbing to perennial Western Athletic Conference power Boise State 69-67 last month — an NCAA record for total points scored in a game that lasted 3 hours, 56 minutes.
But it’s Hawaii (9-0, 6-0 WAC) that could put on a show if Brennan, the Heisman trophy candidate who has thrown for 28 TDs, plays.
“They are as good as advertised. Undefeated, one of the best teams in the country,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said.
Brennan said he plans to start despite being knocked out cold in the fourth quarter of last week’s 37-30 victory over Fresno State. Hawaii coach June Jones said it will be a game-time decision, but Ault said he expects Brennan to play.
Brennan has thrown for 3,296 yards this season and ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency. His 135 career touchdown passes are tied with BYU’s Ty Detmer for the NCAA Division I record. He also has thrown TD passes in 34 consecutive games, one shy of Detmer’s record.
In addition to averaging 50.2 points per game, the Warriors rank second nationally in passing offense (454 yards per game) and third in total offense (534.3). Brennan’s three leading targets also are leading the WAC in receiving yards — Ryan Grice-Mullen (120.0), Jason Rivers (95.4) and Davone Bess (94.0)
“In terms of a passing game, we haven’t faced an offense like this all year,” Ault said.
The Wolf Pack, ninth nationally in total offense (494.4), counter with Ault’s pistol formation — a hybrid of the shotgun where the quarterback stands only a few steps behind the center with a lone offset back. The change has fortified a once anemic running game with Luke Lippincott averaging 117 yards per game, best in the WAC and 17th in the NCAA.
Last week, the Warriors jumped ahead of Fresno State 21-0.
“Hawaii is very capable of doing that with that offense,” Ault said. “They got those early scores and Fresno had to play catch-up.”
Jones said his team is in for another tough contest in a closing stretch that sees the Warriors finish the season at home against No. 17 Boise State and Washington.
“I think they’re as physical, maybe even more physical up front, than Fresno,” Jones said of the Wolf Pack. “We’ll have to play a very good game to beat them.”
The weather could also work in Nevada’s favor, with the game-time temperature expected to be in the upper 40s.