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RENO, Nev. -- BYU and Nevada will meet Saturday with different records and different circumstances to adjust to, but their individual challenges will likely make for an interesting matchup.
After opening their 2010 season with a 1-2 record and falling from the rankings, BYU will attempt to get back on track against Nevada behind the minimal experience of true freshman Jake Heaps. Heaps will make his first start as the official first string quarterback for the Cougars' 2010 season Saturday while former snap-sharer Riley Nelson will sit out the rest of the year with a medical redshirt.
Nelson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Florida State last week and will undergo surgery with an anticipated recovery time of 4-5 months.
Despite the Cougars' personnel shifts and shaky start, Nevada coach Chris Ault said the Wolf Pack (3-0) will be facing a mountain of a hurdle in maintaining their undefeated record against BYU.
"It's gonna be tough. It's a challenge and a half, there's no question about it. I think the great thing about the Cal game is it gives us some confidence to know we can play with these kinds of teams. BYU - they are one of these teams," Ault said in an interview after Tuesday's practice. "They are as physical as any team we're gonna play and have terrific athletes and a great tradition there."
Nevada blew past Cal 52-31 in week three behind a stellar performance from senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick attempted just 15 passes, but completed 10 for 181 yards and two touchdowns, on top of rushing for 148 yards on 17 carries.
The Wolf Pack have claimed their wins by an average margin of 30 points and have received votes in the national polls, missing an AP Top 25 inclusion by two spots and a USA Today naming by one spot in the most recent rankings.
Ault said that although his program has started to turn heads on a national level, Nevada will be facing its biggest test thus far Saturday in its first road game of the season.
"We're on the road for the first time. If you're going to compete for a championship, you've got to learn to win on the road, and we just happen to be going to a place that is very tough to win at," Ault said. "We've got to put it together and find a way to compete against a really fine BYU team."
Although the Cougars have experienced a lesser degree of success and satisfaction than Nevada three games into their season, Ault said he's expecting the same as he's seen from BYU in the past.
"(It's a) typical BYU team," Ault said. "Big, strong; they play together, they play hard."