UNLV is 1-8 and just finished receiving their eighth beatdown of the season from BYU, losing 55-7. Wyoming... well, their season was down the drain before last week as they were 2-7 and already in line to miss a bowl game and they had New Mexico last week. Whew, a for sure easy win after having had to play so many good teams this season and maybe this could get the Pokes confidence back. Wait, what did you say? Wyoming LOST!? That's right, New Mexico escaped Wyoming at the end of regulation with a game-winning field goal. Will the fact that Wyoming has no more confidence in themselves play into whether or not UNLV can finally at least keep a game close? Follow me after the jump to find out...
UNLV's offense has struggled all year, and last week's performance at BYU was pathetic, so what do the Rebels need to do in order to turn it around this week against Wyoming and get another W on the board? Sustain long drives. It's no secret that UNLV's defense couldn't stop an ok high school offense and if the Rebels can minimize the amount of times that defense has to go out on the field, then UNLV will have a real shot at winning this game. Of course, they would have to do it for the entire game. They failed to do that when UNLV stopped sustaining drives with 4:00 left in the first half of the Nevada game. The game then blew open from there and the Rebels had another beatdown on their hands. I don't think that Wyoming could do the same thing quite so easily, but you never know - it's UNLV football.
Wyoming's offense is much better than people realize. The stats won't back me up on this one, but if you've seen any of Wyoming's games this season then you know that Alverster Alexander isn't half bad, In fact he's actually pretty good. Their QB, Austyn Carta-Samuels, has shown good arm strength and accuracy when is offensive line gives him time to throw. The Cowboys shouldn't have much trouble moving the ball, but if they aren't able to get 3+ yards on 1st down then UNLV could have a shot at actually getting an important stop during the game.
Wyoming's defense hasn't been much better than UNLV's this season on the stat sheet, but they definitely have the edge if the two defenses were to go head to head. If the Pokes want to stifle the Rebel offense, they're going to have to make sure UNLV doesn't run the ball well at all. If UNLV can get 2-3 plays behind them when running the ball, then the play action pass opens up and with two speedy deep threats in Michael Johnson and Phillip Payne on the outside, the Rebels just might hurt Wyoming.
If UNLV is to stop this Cowboy offense, then they need to force 2nd and 3rd down and long. I said this last week against BYU as well and of course UNLV couldn't do squat on first down and the Cougars had a field day. I don't think UNLV should struggle as much against Wyoming as they did with BYU, but the Pokes could efficiently move the ball if the Rebels don't do something on 1st down.
My prediction is that the Wyoming offense dominates the ground and the air in a demolition of the Rebels. Too bad, because this loss would mean that UNLV would be tied for 6th in the conference with Colorado State. And with the Border War coming up, Wyoming could possibly win that game and make it so that UNLV isn't all that horrible.
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