GAME: The Colorado State Rams vs. The University of Nevada Las Vegas
DATE/TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 5:00 p.m. MT (Kickoff 5:06 MT – 4:06 PT)
TV COLORADO: KTVD-20
TV LAS VEGAS: Time Warner Cable SportsNet
RADIO COLORADO: AM 560 KLZ in Denver, KCOL 600 AM in Ft. Collins, KSIR 1010 AM in Ft. Morgan and KNZZ 1100 in Grand Junction
RADIO LAS VEGAS: ESPN 1100 AM & 98.9 FM
CONFERENCE: Mountain West
THE COACHES: UNLV Head coach Bobby Hauck (86-46, 10th season as head coach) coached the Rebels since leaving the Montana Grizzlies after the 2009 season. Since 2010, Hauck has an overall record of 5 – 21 – 0 record for a .192 winning % and no bowl invitations with UNLV. Jim McElwain is in his first year as the Rams’ head coach and has a 2 – 7 overall record and a 1 – 4 record in the MW. He is the 20th head coach for the CSU Rams.
THE LINE: Due to the performance that UNLV had last week, UNLV is favored to win in Colorado, even though the temperature will be a high of 44˚, dipping to 18˚ at night with rain and possible snow showers. As the kickoff is scheduled for 5:06 PM, the temperature will drop intensely once the sun goes behind the foothills on the west side of the stadium (approximately 5:20 PM).
THE SERIES: This is the 21st meeting for these two teams and they have played 17 years in a row. The CSU Rams have won 4 straight at Hughes Stadium against UNLV, but UNLV has won 2 out of the last three against the Rams. The Rams are 13 – 6 – 1 against the Rebels all time with a 7 – 4 record at Hughes Stadium and a 6 – 2 – 1 record at Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney, Nevada.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: UNLV’s QB Nick Sherry was 17 – 27 last week against the New Mexico Lobos, for 289 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 interceptions. Out of the backfield the Rebels have Bradley Randle (551 Yards on the season) and Tim Cornett (1068 yards on the season). Randle rushed for 113 yards and 2 TD’s with 9.4 yards per carry average. Cornett was also pretty solid, rushing for 107 yards and 1 TD, for an 11.9 yards per carry average. Devante Davis, Marcus Sullivan and Caleb Herring were the multi catch receiving threats for the Rebels, Davis with the lion’s share: 145 yds and 1 TD.
CSU will start freshman quarterback Conner Smith who was 13 – 23 (57%) for 326 yards and 2 TD’s and 1 interception in the loss last week to Wyoming. Freshman Donnell Alexander had 114 yards on 20 carries last week and had the Rams’ 2nd 100 yard rushing effort this season. Thomas Coffman led the Rams’ receivers with 4 receptions for 146 yards and 1 touchdown against Wyoming. TE Kivon Cartwright had 67 yards and a TD, while Charles Lovett also added a 65 yard catch for the Rams. Notoriously missing here are RB Chris Nwoke and TE Crockett Gillmore. 16 different players have scored for the Rams this year, which is tied with TCU for 3rd in the nation.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Tackles leader for the Rebels John Lotilelei (48 Solo, 48 Assists, 1 Int.), Tim Hasson (32 Solo, 34 Assists, 1 Int.) and Tani Maka (26 Solo, 30 Assists) will try to keep the Rams offense in check, while sack leaders Sonny Sanitoa (3.0 for 23 yards), James Boyd (2.5 for 23 yards) and Jordan Sparkman (2 for 12 yards) will try to get after Conner Smith. Kenny Keys and Fred Wilson each have 2 interceptions and will be keying in on the inexperienced CSU quarterback.
DE Lanston Tanyi’s 70 tackles rank second by defensive lineman in all of FBS. CSU’s defense will have its hands full with the UNLV offense. The Rams cannot afford to get into an offensive shoot-out as the defense has been routinely left out on the field all season long, and hasn't been able to make up for the lack of offense, except in the game against Hawaii. Freshman LB Cory James, sophomore LB Aaron Davs and Jr. CB Shaq Bell and freshman CB Jason Oden will be asked to keep the UNLV passing game in check and CSU’s offense in position to score. Other notables for CSU are DT Zach Tiedgen and LB James Skelton, on a thin CSU defense. The good news for the Rams is that the defense is pretty young and will be gaining needed experience for the second year in McElwain's system.