UNLV-Nevada once was a very heated rivalry game during the 1980's that Chris Ault will never forget. The Fremont Cannon was painted another color each year until 1995. Nevada then began dominating the series until 2000 when UNLV took over. They won 5 straight years before the pattern switched back over to Nevada. The question is, will that trend continue on Saturday Night? Will UNLV upset 25th ranked Nevada to follow after history and begin a string of 5 straight wins? Or will the Wolfpack of Nevada buck the trend and demolish UNLV as has been predicted by almost everyone...
Find out after the jump.
Nevada had a very convincing win over Cal a couple weeks back that launched them into the top 25. The real key to the Wolfpack winning that game was simply Colin Kaepernick's accuracy throwing the football. We all know that Nevada can run the football down your throat and you simply can not stop them, but when Kaepernick is passing the way he did against Cal, this offense is a total machine as they are lethal on the ground and in the air.
UNLV got their first win over New Mexico last week, but that doesn't show much. The Lobos are among the worst in the FBS and will probably lose every game by two or more scores other than the New Mexico State game. UNLV's offense had their way with the Lobo defense, but that was with big passing plays. Almost all of the scores came from 40-50 yard rushes or passes for TD's.
It's great that the Rebels have big play ability, but if they want to become a respectable team in this league they are going to have to learn how to sustain long drives. The Rebels had times in the New Mexico game when both teams seemed to get stuck at the 40 yard line, unable to do a thing. The Lobo defense wasn't good enough to keep the big plays from happening very often, but I know Nevada's defense will be. If it had been a Nevada defense out on that field last Saturday, it would have almost been a guarantee that the Rebels were not going to score more than 21 points.
The Nevada defense has been criticized for giving up way too many points. Now part of that is their fault, but part of it is also that the Wolfpack offense is such a machine that the opposing offense gets a ton of possessions. This makes for the shootouts that are normally Nevada's games. The key for Nevada's defense is not giving up big plays, the big plays gives the defense less opportunities to stop the offense on third downs. The more third downs that Nevada puts the UNLV offense into, the better. Especially since UNLV's offense has only showed big play ability and almost zero ability to string out a long drive.
The UNLV defense hasn't looked too good on paper if you don't count the New Mexico game. They gave up 41 points to Wisconsin, 38 points to Utah and got walked all over while giving up 30 to Idaho. Unfortunately, that was not the case entirely for the Wisconsin and Utah game where in both instances the offenses were held to 17 points in the first half. Had it not been for a muffed punt on the goal line Michael Johnson, UNLV's defense would have held the Utes offense to 10 points in the first half.
The real issue for this defense is the third quarter. In the Wisconsin game, the Rebels came out of the locker room and gave up 24 points to the Badgers. And in the Utah game, if you count the touchdown right after the start of the 4th quarter, then the defense gave up 21 points. The only really good third quarter outing for the defense was against Idaho where the Vandals only scored 7 points in the third quarter. If the Rebels can do what they did to Wisconsin and Utah in the first half, and what they did to Idaho in the third quarter to Nevada, then they might be able to keep the game close.
All in all, Nevada's offense will probably rip up UNLV's defense and stop the Rebels at least half the time. My prediction: Nevada 45 - UNLV 17.
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