MOSCOW, Idaho — Nevada coach Chris Ault saw his 25th-ranked Wolf Pack return to the Top 25 this week, but it wasn't enough to relieve the bad taste of Saturday's win over Utah State.
Nevada won 56-42, but led 35-0 at halftime before getting outscored 42-21 in the second half. Ault doesn't want a repeat when Nevada (7-1, 2-1 WAC) visits Idaho (4-4, 1-2) on Saturday.
"I think our guys came out and thought the thing was pretty much done," Ault said of the second half. "We just stunk up the field."
Idaho has a much more potent offense than Utah State, averaging more than 30 points per game, and Nevada cannot afford a defensive letdown against quarterback Nathan Enderle.
"Their quarterback is explosive," Ault said. "Their offense does a great job of throwing the football."
Enderle is second in the pass-happy Western Athletic Conference, with an average of 285.2 yards per game, and the Vandals are averaging 338 yards through the air. Enderle's top targets are Daniel Hardy (32 catches), Eric Greenwood (28) and Maurice Shaw (23).
Eight receivers have at least 173 yards receiving this season.
Idaho lost to WAC leader Hawaii 45-10 late Saturday in a game in which they were overwhelmed on both sides of the ball. They are happy to return to the Kibbie Dome, where they are 3-0 and have given up just 21 points this season.
The Vandals are seeking to become bowl-eligible for a second consecutive season. But they face Nevada and No. 2 Boise State at home the next two weeks, then play at Utah State and Fresno State before closing at home against San Jose State. They need to win at least three of those.
Idaho is passing more than coach Robb Akey would like because their once-potent rushing attack has disappeared.
"We have not had the success I want in the running game," Akey said. "My desire would be 50-50 in regards to run and pass."
But with veteran running backs Princeton McCarty producing 340 yards and Deonte Jackson 292 yards so far this season, the Vandals are averaging just 89 yards per game on the ground.
Nevada has little trouble running the ball, averaging 300 yards rushing per game out of the half-shotgun formation known as the pistol. Running back Vai Taua is averaging 132 yards per game and needs 94 to become the fifth player in WAC history to gain 4,000 career yards.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick averages 96 rushing yards and needs two rushing touchdowns to break the school's all-time record of 53, held by Chris Lemon.
Nevada also features Dontay Moch, the WAC defensive player of the year in 2009, who is the nation's active leader in tackles for loss with 57.
Nevada has won five straight over Idaho and leads the all-time series 18-9. The Wolf Pack is already bowl eligible for a program-record sixth straight season.