The San Jose State Spartans (2-3, 1-1) will travel to face the UNLV Rebels (2-3, 1-0) in a Mountain West Conference matchup Saturday night. San Jose State has won five straight meetings, including a 33-10 win at home as an 8.5 point favorite in the most recent matchup on October 4, 2014.
San Jose State went on the road last week and fell 35-21 to Auburn for their second loss to a SEC school this season. UNLV picked up a 23-17 win over in-state rival Nevada in their Mountain West opener. This game kicks off from Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada at 9:00 pm ET and will not be televised nationally. San Jose State is currently a 2.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 50 points in this contest.
San Jose State couldn’t stop Peyton Barber in their loss to Auburn as the Tigers back ran for 146 yards and five touchdowns. The Spartans actually won the total yards battle 406-342 in the game but were hurt by four turnovers. Three of Auburn’s five scoring drives started on the San Jose State side of the field as they allowed the Tigers to take over on the Spartans 23, 24 and 45 yard lines. When you’re a mediocre team at best, you can’t give points away by giving up the ball on your side of the 50.
The Spartans are 53rd in the nation in passing as they average 237.4 yards per game while they are 34th in rushing with 202.4 yards per contest. San Jose State has a narrow scoring differential as they score 30 points per game and stand 88th in scoring defense by allowing 28.6 points per contest. Three quarterbacks have seen action for San Jose State; they have combined to hit 69.4 percent of their passes for 1,187 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Tyler Ervin has been terrific in the ground game with 124 carries for 801 yards and 10 scores; Thomas Tucker has 24 carries for 96 yards and two scores. Tyler Winston leads the Spartans with 25 receptions for 266 yards plus two scores while Billy Freeman has 21 grabs for 237 yards and two scores; Ervin has caught 17 balls out of the backfield. Two San Jose State kickers are 18 of 21 on extra points but only 2 of 5 on field goals this season.
UNLV has won two straight after they downed Nevada last week in a tight game. The Rebels were outgained 343-301 in the game and both teams had one turnover. UNLV cashed in on their lone takeaway as Ryan McAleenan returned a Tyler Stewart pick 52 yards for a score that gave the Rebels a 20-10 advantage. The Rebels managed to hold off a late rally by Nevada and won the time of possession battle by holding the ball for 32:31 to Nevada’s 27:29 in the game.
The Rebels are a solid run oriented offense as they are 115th in the nation in passing (154.2 yards per game) while they are 21st in rushing (224.2 yards per contest); UNLV is scoring 28 points a game while they are 77th in scoring defense by giving up 25.6 points per game. Two quarterbacks have played for UNLV this season; they have combined to complete 52.8 percent of their throws for 771 yards with seven touchdowns and five picks this season. Six players have run for at least 100 yards this season with Keith Whitely leading the team with 74 carries for 341 yards and two scores; Xzaviar Campbell is next in line with 36 carries for 242 yards and two scores. Devonte Boyd leads the team with 16 grabs for 270 yards and three scores while Kendal Keys (14 receptions, 129 yards) is the only other player with more than eight receptions this season. Nicolai Bornand has hit 17 of 18 extra points while hitting six of seven field goals this season.
San Jose State is 4-1 ATS in their last five road games against teams with a losing home record, 10-4 ATS in their last 14 against teams with a losing record and 5-2 ATS in their last seven in October. UNLV is 1-4 ATS in their last five at home.
This pick may have been different if the line was at 3 instead of sitting at 2.5 points. UNLV has won two straight but one of those was a romp over Idaho State. San Jose State played pretty well against Auburn but they can’t turn the ball over four times and expect to win. I expect better play by the Spartans as they scrape out a win by a touchdown or so.