The UNLV Rebels (3-8, 2-5) will close out the regular season as they take on the Wyoming Cowboys (1-10, 1-6) in Mountain West Conference action Saturday afternoon. Wyoming has taken two straight and three of four in the series, including a 28-23 road win as a 1 point favorite on November 17, 2012 in the most recent meeting.
UNLV has lost two straight and five of six after getting pummeled 52-14 at home to San Diego State last week. Wyoming has dropped four straight as they were crushed 38-3 at San Diego State two weeks ago; the Cowboys are coming off a bye last week. The kickoff from War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyoming is scheduled for 2:00 pm ET and the game will not be nationally televised. UNLV is currently a 3 point favorite with the over/under set at 59.5 points.
UNLV was down 14-0 after one quarter and 31-0 at halftime; it was safe to say that you could turn the lights out at that point. The Rebels were outgained 393-270 in total yards, lost the first down battle 20-18 and the time of possession battle 32:56 to 27:04 in the contest. UNLV also was hammered in the turnover battle as they committed four giveaways in the game while failing to generate a takeaway. Three San Diego State touchdown drives started on the UNLV side of the field; the Aztecs also scored on a punt return.
The Rebels are 87th in the nation in passing offense as they average 205.8 yards per game through the air while they are 38th in rushing with 194.2 yards per contest. UNLV currently stands tied for 69th in the nation in scoring offense as they score 28.6 points and allow 33.5 points per game, which puts them 100th in the nation in scoring defense. Two UNLV quarterbacks have combined to complete 53.5 percent of their throws for 2,264 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Blake Decker (102 of 176, 1443 yards, nine TD, seven INT, 136 rushing yards, TD) has seen the majority of the reps at quarterback this season. Six players have picked up at least 136 yards on the ground with Keith Whitely (142 carries, 664 yards, 3 TD) and Xzaviar Campbell (79 carries, 382 yards, 5 scores) leading the way; Lexington Thomas contributes 73 carries for 478 yards plus three scores. When UNLV goes to the air to try and move the chains, Devonte Boyd (782 yards, 6 TD) and Kendal Keys (471 yards, 5 TD) are the top two targets; they have 48 and 39 receptions, respectively, to lead the team. Aaron Criswell (18 receptions, 361 yards, 3 TD), Andrew Price (17 grabs, 173 yards, TD) and Whitely (16 receptions out of the backfield) are secondary targets. Nicolai Bornand has hit 39 of 40 extra points and 12 of 15 field goals on the season with a long of 51 yards.
Wyoming had no more luck against San Diego State than the Rebels did; the Cowboys were down 14-0 after one quarter and 21-0 at the half. The Cowboys didn’t score until the fourth quarter and failed to reach the end zone. Wyoming was outgained 431-191, lost the first down battle 25-12 and dropped the time of possession battle 34:16 to 25:44 in the contest. In addition, the Cowboys forced a pair of turnovers while committing a trio of turnovers of their own. It was another disappointing performance on both sides of the ball by Wyoming.
The Cowboys are 106th in the nation in passing offense (181.7 yards) and currently stand 80th in the nation in rushing offense (162.8 yards) per game on the year. Wyoming is only averaging 18.8 points per game while they are 104th in scoring defense as they allow 34.5 points per contest. Cameron Coffman has completed 138 of 217 passes for 1,703 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season. He was knocked out against Boise State and missed the next two games. Nick Smith (27 of 60, 245 yards, 2 TD, INT, second on the team with 157 rushing yards, 2 TD) or Josh Allen (four of six, 51 yards) were under center in those contests and remain #’s 2 and 3 on the depth chart. The run game is pretty much Brian Hill as he’s run the ball 246 times for 1,399 yards and five scores. The rest of the team has combined for 186 carries for a total of 392 yards and five touchdowns; Shaun Wick is next in line for running backs with 43 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. Tanner Gentry (37 receptions, 678 yards, 4 TD) and Jake Maulhardt (team high 54 catches, 604 yards, 7 TD) are a solid 1-2 combination in the passing game; Jacob Hollister is next in line with 21 receptions for 236 yards and two scores while Hill has 18 catches out of the backfield. Tristan Bailey has struggled in the kicking game as he is 23 of 26 on extra points and only 2 of 8 on field goal attempts this season.
UNLV is 4-0 ATS in their last four after a double digit loss at home, 5-1 ATS in their last six after allowing at least 40 points, 5-1 ATS in their last six after allowing less than 170 yards through the air and 4-1 ATS in their last five after scoring less than 20 points. Wyoming is 6-18 ATS in their last 24 on turf, 1-10 ATS in their last 11 against teams with a losing record, 1-10 ATS in their last 11 in November, 0-6 ATS in their last six home games against teams with a losing road record and 0-4 ATS in their last four after a bye.
The Cowboys are dismal on both sides of the ball and it’s shown repeatedly this season as they have little to show for offensively. UNLV has some capable weapons and a decent supporting cast but they have defensive issues as well. Still, the Rebels are the more talented team on paper and that should get them a win in the season finale.