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San Jose State vs. UNLV game preview: Key game for Rebels, Spartans

This is a key game for UNLV and San Jose State which will shape the season for both teams, good and bad.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV and San Jose State play a an evening tilt  on Saturday and this is a key game for both the Spartans and Rebels. Each team is winless in league play and both also have just one win, and if either team wants to keep any hope of making a bowl appearance Saturday's game is a must win.

UNLV will be down the best player on the field as wide receiver Devante Davis is out with a hand injury against the Spartans. This hand injury looks to be serious and shelf Davis for the next few games, and in his place will be Devonte Boyd who will do his best to fill that starting roll.

"I definitely know the team is holding me to high standards, and they're counting on me just as much as they were counting on Devante to fill that role," Boyd told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Even Devante told me there could be no drop-off. Him being a veteran, I know I'm not going to make all the plays he would make in a game, but I'm damn sure going to make some of them."

In last week's game against San Diego State, Boyd had a decent game with catching four passes for 86 yards and scored his first touchdown of the yea.r

For Boyd and the whole UNLV offense to be successful it starts with quarterback Blake Decker. Decker has struggled with completing passes due to poor decision making which has led to nine interceptions. It also does not help that the offensive line has given up 13 sacks.

San Jose State also could be out with one of its key pass catchers as tight end Billy Freeman is suffered from an ankle injury which he suffered in last week's loss to Nevada. Freeman has not practiced for the past two days and is probable on Saturday despite not practicing and wearing a walking boot.

The possibility of new starting quarterback Joe Gray not having one of his key weapons could hinder progress, but Gray is confident that he will be able to improve in his second career start. He will do so by slowing down with his decision making.

"I watched the [Nevada] game twice now, and I was moving faster than the game was moving and I couldn't get my feet under me because of it," Gray told the San Jose Mercury News. "My head was moving faster than my body."

While San Jose State is just 1-3, they should be the favored team and are a team that may not indicate that poor of a record. The Spartans have a good pass defense and that should come in handy with the Rebels struggling with Decker as its quarterback and also missing Davis.

UNLV will need to run the ball well against San Jose State's porous rush defense and that is the area that the Rebels need to try to exploit if they are going to pull off this road upset.