It's not dread, but Weber State Coach Dave Arslanian seems to be filled with something less than confidence as the Wildcats prepare to host undefeated, Big Sky Conference leading, third-ranked Nevada on Saturday.
Then again, it could be Arslanian is following the time-honored college football tradition of poor-mouthing his chances against a team he has a legitimate chance to beat, especially in Ogden, Utah."We're not where we want to be, but at least we're not where we used to be," he said, cryptically. "It should be exciting, especially if we can get our offense back on track."
In any case, Weber State (4-4 overall, 3-3 in the Big Sky) will be facing a team that in many ways is its opposite number when it meets the Wolf Pack from Reno (7-0, 5-0).
The Wildcats lead the conference and NCAA Division I-AA in both passing offense and total offense, although their 30-points-a-game average ranks only fourth in the Big Sky, right behind Nevada, in scoring offense.
The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, is first in the league and third nationally in pass defense and total defense. Perhaps most importantly, they also lead the Big Sky and are 12th in Division I-AA in scoring defense - a category where Weber State ranks fifth in the nine-team conference.
Nevada gives up under 15 points per game. Weber gives up more than 29.
Both teams are coming off big weeks, Nevada soundly beating Nevada-Las Vegas 26-14 and Weber State leading early and out-gaining Division I-A Wyoming of the Western Athletic Conference 427 yards to 327 before falling to the Cowboys 21-12. The Wolf Pack also has won 10 straight extending back to last year - the longest winning streak in Division I-AA.
But consider this: Weber State has won two of the last three games in the series and the last time they met in Ogden, in 1988, the Wildcats beat the 5-0 Wolf Pack 37-31 with a desperation pass on the last play of the game.
Weber also has Division I-AA's total offense leader in sophomore quarterback Jamie Martin, who is accounting for an average of 349 yards per game, and two of the Big Sky's top four receivers in Rick Justice and Trevor Shaw.
Other Big Sky games Saturday include the 90th meeting since 1897 of intrastate rivals Montana and Montana State, this time in Missoula, and Boise State visits Idaho State in Pocatello. Northern Arizona also hosts I-AA independent Nicholls State and Eastern Washington travels to Division II powerhouse Portland State.