Watching? Listening? Of course you are!
Who: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (2-7, 0-5 MW) vs UNLV Rebels (2-5, 1-3 MW)
When: Saturday, November 7, 2015, 3:00 PM PST
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Don't tell me it's just Hawaii. This is arguably the biggest game of the year for the UNLV Rebels. A win and the Scarlet and Gray are on track to finish as a middling West Division team, a far cry from the predictions of preseason prognosticators. A loss and the Rebs share the basement with Hawaii. Here are the three keys to allowing the Warriors to occupy the West Division basement all by themselves.
1. Control the skies
It's hard to say if this is an easier goal before or after Thursday's news. Six losses in a row have prompted interim head coach Chris Naeole to make a change at quarterback. Out is Max Wittek, in is Ikaika Woolsey. Don't be mistaken, this is no rookie the Rebels will face on Saturday. Woolsey started all 13 games for Hawaii a year ago, and had arguably his best game of the season against UNLV, 229 yards passing and a touchdown in a Warriors win. The rushing attack for Hawaii has been dreadful this season, the Warriors average just 86 yards on the ground, last in the Mountain West Conference and 50 yards shy of the next closest team. Disable the Hawaii passing attack and things look good for UNLV, but sleep on Woolsey and the Rebels could be in for a long afternoon.
2. Run, run, run some more.
The UNLV rushing attack is formidable. The Rebels rank 5th in the conference at 199 yards per contest. Last week, unsurprisingly, the Rebs were bottled up by Boise State. The league's top defense held UNLV to just 100 yards on the ground. Saturday should be a different story, the Rebels face the MWC's worst rush defense. Hawaii yields north of 258 rushing yards per game. Expect Keith Whitely, Lexington Thomas, and Xzaviar Campbell to all get an opportunity to expose the Warriors' most glaring deficiency.
3. Finish strong
Shocking everyone in Sam Boyd Stadium last Saturday, the Rebels were in a one touchdown game with Boise State early in the fourth quarter. What followed however, were four late Broncos touchdowns that turned the game into a laugher. UNLV has the talent to have the Warriors put away after three quarters. If not, the Rebels must ensure that they avoid the sort of late letdown that turned the Boise State game into a blowout.
UNLV has had some heartbreakers this season. The loss to San Jose State in overtime, the collapse at Fresno State, and flirting with the upset before falling apart last Saturday against Boise State.. This Saturday will be different. Early on the Rebels will jump all over a Hawaii team in transition trying to find its footing. UNLV will cruise, 42-14.