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UNLV keys to a victory over Wyoming

Rebels look to take down first-place Cowboys since 2010

Colorado State v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A bye week is just what UNLV needed after back-to-back losses to Colorado State and San Jose State on October 22nd and 29th, respectively. It’s been an uphill battle for a Rebels football team that had higher hopes coming into this season under second-year head coach Tony Sanchez. The offense has struggled to find its identity under center and a series of wide-receiver injuries has limited UNLV’s passing game. The Rebels currently sit 3-6 and 2-3 in Mountain West play and it’ll take an in sync offense and defense to pull off a defeat against a red-hot Wyoming (7-2,5-0) team at Sam Boyd Stadium.

  • Is Kurt Palandech the guy?

This is obviously more of a question than a key but interpret it how you will. This is UNLV’s third quarterback change this season and with three games left (including Wyoming) and Boise State looming on the road next week, it’s a fair assessment that the Rebels could finish their season 1-2. After four starts, Johnny Stanton suffered a knee injury and redshirt freshman Dalton Sneed looked to be an effective replacement but had a hard time adjusting in some game-time situations.

Palandech replaced Sneed in their 30-24 loss at San Jose State and completed 10-for-21 for 161 yards and a touchdown including 44 yards rushing with one touchdown featured below. On a positive note for UNLV, Wyoming allows the nation’s fifth highest passing yards per game with 303 so that could give Palandech the opportunity to connect with WR Devonte Boyd for some big-time plays.

  • Brian Hill vs. UNLV RBs

For those that don’t remember the last time these two schools met back on Nov. 28 2015, Brian Hill rushed for a school record for rushing yards of 232 yards and a touchdown. This season, Hill is averaging 122 yards per game, which ranks No.2 in the MW and No.3 in the nation. He has explosive energy and if UNLV’s front four has trouble stopping the run then Hill could have another monster stat line that he has shown to be very capable of. The bye week gave enough time for Lexington Thomas to recover from a high ankle sprain that left him out of the second half of the San Jose State game on Oct. 29. The sophomore RB has 632 yards and eight touchdowns this season and alongside freshman Charles Williams’ 601 yards and three touchdowns, the duo will carry the backfield workload.

  • Don’t give opportunities to Wyoming’s defense

Wyoming’s defense has forced 19 turnovers this season, 13 interceptions and six fumble recoveries to put them No.1 in the MW and ranked No.17 nationally. What has made Wyoming’s season a success is their ability to covert turnovers into points, scoring 76 points off of 19 turnovers in their nine games this season. Ultimately, the team that dominates the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively is going to be the team that leaves Sam Boyd with a win.