The Boise State Broncos (6-2, 3-1) look to keep their place in the race in the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division as they travel to face the UNLV Rebels (2-5, 1-2) Saturday afternoon. Boise State has taken both previous meetings, including a 32-7 win at home on October 20, 2012 in the most recent contest. UNLV covered the line in that game as a 28 point underdog.
Boise State bounced back from their blowout loss to Utah State that knocked them out of the top 25 as they rolled over Wyoming 34-14 last week at home. UNLV is coming off a bye last week; they dropped a 31-28 decision on the road to Fresno State two weeks ago. This contest will kick off at 3:30 pm ET from Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be televised on ESPNU. Boise State is currently a 20 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 55.5 points.
Boise State jumped to a 24-0 lead and didn’t look back, though they took their foot off the gas in the second half of the contest against Wyoming. The Broncos outgained the Cowboys by a convincing 418-233 margin and forced the lone turnover in the contest. That pick was returned to the 1 yard line and set up the touchdown that put Boise State up 17-0 in the first quarter. Boise State picked up 24 first downs while allowing 16 to Wyoming and held the ball for 31:35 to Wyoming’s 28:25 in the contest.
The Broncos are 26th in the nation as they average 280.3 yards per game through the air and they are 62nd in the nation in rushing offense by putting up 175.4 yards a game. Boise State is tied for 32nd in the nation as they average 38 points per game and stand 18th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 17.3 points per contest. Three quarterbacks have seen action for Boise State: Brett Rypien (120 of 182, 1,567 yards, 10 TD, 4 INT) has seen the most reps. Ryan Finley was 46 of 70 for 485 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions while Thomas Stuart is 12 of 18 for 114 yards and a score. Jeremy McNichols is the team’s leading rusher with 133 carries for 651 yards and 13 scores while Kelsey Young has contributed 73 carries for 294 yards and five scores; Devan Demas (29 carries, 171 yards, 2 TD) is the third back in the system. Shane Williams-Rhodes leads the Broncos with 43 receptions for 343 yards while Thomas Sperbeck is a solid #2 threat with 39 grabs for 766 yards and seven scores. Chaz Anderson (22 receptions, 333 yards, TD) and McNichols (27 receptions, 232 yards, 3 TD) are secondary targets in the passing game. Tyler Rausa has booted 35 of 36 extra points and 15 of 17 field goals with a long of 51 yards; both his misses are from beyond 50 yards.
UNLV had their chances to put Fresno State away as they led by two touchdowns with five minutes to go in the third quarter. The problem was, the Rebels didn’t score again and allowed Fresno State to reel off 17 unanswered points. UNLV was outgained 410-299 and lost the first down battle 23-20 in the contest; neither team committed a turnover. The Rebels controlled the time of possession as they had the ball for 32:08 while Fresno State had the ball for 27:52; they couldn’t come up with the stops they needed late in the game.
The Rebels are 115th in the nation in passing offense as they average 157 yards per game while they are 27th in rushing with 213.6 yards per contest. Despite their losing record, UNLV is outscoring their opposition by a narrow margin as they score 28.4 points and allow 27.4 points per game, which puts them 76th in the nation in scoring defense. Two UNLV quarterbacks have combined to complete 52 percent of their throws for 1,099 yards with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Six players have picked up at least 117 yards on the ground with Keith Whitely (99 carries, 471 yards, 2 TD) and Xzaviar Campbell (53 carries, 302 yards, 3 scores) leading the way. When UNLV goes to the air to try and move the chains, Devonte Boyd (374 yards, 5 TD) and Kendal Keys (226 yards, TD) are the top two targets; they have 21 and 20 receptions, respectively, to lead the team. No other player for the Rebels has more than Whitely’s 10 receptions out of the backfield. Nicolai Bornand has hit 24 of 25 extra points and eight of 10 field goals on the season with a long of 51.
UNLV is 2-5 ATS in their last seven conference games, 2-5 ATS in their last seven against teams with a winning record and 1-5 ATS in their last six at home.
Boise State bounced back with a win over Wyoming after getting drubbed by Utah State. While UNLV has had two weeks to prepare, they still have to find a way to hang on to leads late in games instead of blowing them by falling apart. Facing the Broncos will make for a tough go for UNLV; look for Boise State to win their second straight as they crush the Rebels.