UNLV Rebels (3-8, 1-6 MWC) at UNR Wolf Pack (7-4, 4-3 MWC)
Saturday, November 30th at 12:08 pm PT, Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nevada
AT&T SportsNet and ESPN Las Vegas 1100AM/100.9FM
Series History: All time, UNR holds a 27-17 lead in the overall series. UNLV won last year’s game, after trailing 23-0 in the first quarter, 34-29. The Rebels have won in two of its last three visits to Reno.
Tomorrow will mark the final game of the Tony Sanchez era at UNLV. Sanchez was notified the Friday before the San Jose State game that he would not return next season, and the public was made aware on Monday afternoon. During his time at UNLV, he helped raised all the money for the Fertitta Football Complex and he has beaten UNR twice in four years. One of those wins came in last year’s comeback that saw Armani Rogers lead the Rebels out of a three touchdown hole and Javin White with two key fourth quarter interceptions.
For many years, UNLV has not been bowl eligible, and the highlight of its season has weight upon defeating UNR. And much of that will be the same for 3-8 UNLV in its final game this season. Prior to Sanchez’s arrival, UNLV had only won once in a ten year stretch, and not UNLV will try to keep the cannon red for the third time in five years. Anything can happen in these rivalry games and both sides should expect the unexpected. These two teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as how one another’s season has gone this year, but this edition of the Fremont Cannon could still be a memorable one.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
Keep on Running
Last week, Charles Williams had a breakout game. He had 186 rushing yards and three touchdowns. So much of UNLV’s early success last week in its win against San Jose State was predicated on the run game. As been the case all year, the UNLV offense will go as far as its run game will take it. Williams will be key again for the Rebels, he needs to get a lot of touches for UNLV. Tomorrow will be cold and likely snowy, so its going to be an old-school, smash-mouth type of game where running the ball will be key. If UNLV can stay dynamic on the ground, they can gain control of the game and make the Wolf Pack play its game.
Create and Capitalize on Turnovers
For the second game in a row, the UNLV defense found a way to force turnovers. A problem for UNLV has been the offense’s inability to turn those turnovers into points. That was a problem in its 21-7 loss against Hawaii. The Rebels cannot afford to waste opportunities to put points on the board. Turnovers are always a key for the road team, and can turn the momentum of any game. The defense, which many thought would be a weak point for UNLV this season, has been at its best the second half of the season. If UNLV can force a few turnovers and capitalize on them, this one might not be that close.
Build on Kenyon’s confidence
Kenyon Oblad had one of, if not the best game in his UNLV career last week against San Jose State. He threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter and went 21 of 36 passing. Oblad will need one more solid performance to keep the cannon in Las Vegas. He does not need to have a Peyton Manning-type performance, but he needs to keep doing what he has been doing. UNR allows 263 passing yards per game and on average allows more than two passing touchdowns per game. By now, Oblad should be somewhat comfortable in the pocket and he will have to make some big throws keep the Rebel attack on offense balanced against UNR.
It is hard to predict the mindset of a team that is not going to a bowl game and who’s coach is going to be fired. They obviously will come out and play extra hard for Sanchez, but might they go out too hard and make mistakes that can cost them the game. Even though there is a big disparity in the two team’s records, I think they are closer than people think. I think UNLV will find one more great performance and defeat the Wolf Pack in Sanchez’s final game. My Prediction; UNLV 28, UNR 24.