Well, the Rebels still don't have their first win. We didn't expect them to, but it would have been nice to see UNLV get an upset to start the season. Anyway, UNLV takes on Idaho this week, a team that went 8-5 last season including their thrilling 43-42 victory of Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl. It was the first winning season for the Vandals since they joined the FBS in 2002. Don't expect the 8-5 Vandal squad from last year to show up this week, Idaho lost a lot of talent and that is really going to hurt their chances.
The preview after the jump.The Rebels have been improving. Nobody expected them to beat Wisconsin or Utah, so that came as no surprise that they lost big. UNLV has to coach their special teams much better to win this game - in the Utah game, Utah scored 21 points off of UNLV special teams mistakes.
Another thing is their goal line offense. Twice in the fourth quarter they got down to 4th and goal on the 1. On the first time, Omar Clayton was stuffed on a QB draw from the shotgun. On the second time, Coach Hauck elected to try a fake field goal as time expired in which the quarterback wouldn't run through the wide open hole that the defense had created. I mean it was wide open, and he just wouldn't run through it for whatever reason.
If UNLV wants to win this game, their offense has to show up and their rushing defense needs to improve. The offense is ranked 95th or worse in all major offensive stat categories for the NCAA. Now, that could just be that they were facing a Top 20 defense the past two weeks, but even then, we should still have been able generate enough offense to pass 200 yards passing. The rushing defense hasn't been very good either, it's allowed over 200 rushing yards in each of the past two games by running backs alone. If UNLV can hold Idaho to less than 150 yards rushing, then the defense should hold the Idaho offense to 21 points or less.
For Idaho, it's all about the offense. Almost all of the games they won last season were shootouts- 35+ points per team. They had two pro prospects along the offensive line and a growing passing game. The defense wasn't very good and that is why UNLV has a good chance to win this game.
Idaho's defense this year surrendered 31 points in the first half to an OK Nebraska offense. Now I know UNLV's offense isn't what Nebraska's is, but the defense looked like an FCS team compared to Nebraska's offense (which once again, isn't a strongpoint of the team). UNLV should be able to points on the board against this Idaho squad with ease.
Idaho's offense lost a lot of talent, including probably the best offensive linemen in school history. They do return their starting QB from a year ago in Nathan Enderle, but it was evidenced against Nebraska that the offensive line is not good (or Nebraska's defensive ends are amazing). Now Nebraska does have a terrifying defense, but that makes no excuse for the fact that Enderle was sacked 5 times in that game - and threw 5 picks. The QB was rattled. Now obviously, UNLV is no Nebraska when it comes to defense, but the offensive line is not good and Enderle does not have as good decision making as some Idaho fans think.
What bugs me most is that in the ESPN Conversation section for this game, there are Vandal fans saying that UNLV can't stop a top 20 ranked offense in Idaho. This means that they think because of the stat-padding game against South Dakota State, that they're offense is seriously top 20 material. Enderle against a great defense should still get at least 200 yards passing if he's a top 20 QB - He had 141 yards and 5 picks against Nebraska. The running game didn't even get to 100 yards. This offense isn't what it's hyped up to be and expect for UNLV to score 31+ and hold Idaho to 28 or under in the game.
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