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Rebels Roll into Falcon Stadium for a Key Mountain West Game

Falcons try to qualify for first Mountain West Championship game since 2015

The Falcons host the Rebels of UNLV on Friday afternoon at 1:30 PM MT in a game that will have a strong bearing on who will represent the Mountain Division in the Mountain West Championship game. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Mountain West fans will need to be set up in their den/family room/man cave by 9 AM PT/10 AM MT to catch the games that will determine the Mountain Division champ. Boise State will play San Diego State at 9AM PT on CBS. Utah State will be playing at New Mexico beginning at 11 AM MT on FS1. Boise should be finished by the time the Falcons start (assuming there is no overtime), but the Utah State game will probably be in it’s final minutes. I will ensure I have two screens set up to follow all the action.

Scouting the Rebels

UNLV comes into the game with a very misleading 2-9 record. After being awful last year and the beginning of this year, the Rebels have started to put things together. In their last three games, they’ve handily beaten New Mexico and Hawaii, and scared a very good San Diego State team, losing 28-20. Six of their nine loses have been within one score. With the possibility that I might sound too much like Coach Calhoun, I’ll point out a few facts about UNLV’s strong points.

The strength of the UNLV defense is a strong front seven that allows only 141 yards per game, ranking them 52nd in the country. Other stats that indicate even better performance against the run can be found at footballoutsiders.com . UNLV ranks 11th in the country in stuff rate (percentage of plays that stop the running back at or behind the line of scrimmage) at 22.4%. They are 22nd in the country at power success rate (percentage of runs on third or fourth down with one or two yards to go that result in a first down or touchdown). Obviously, those situations are Falcon strong points that may end up being more difficult in this game. The defensive player to keep an eye out for in the run is LB Jacoby Windmon, who is having an All MW level year with 102 tackles, 6 sacks, and 11 TFLs. On the line, DL Adam Plant is the playmaker with 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 7 TFLs.

On offense, the star is RB Charles Williams, the second best runner in the conference (had to get that in here somewhere). He’s averaging 102 yards per game. When he is on his game, the yardage comes quickly. He has had games of 177 yards, 221 yards, and 266 yards this year. He accounts for over 90% of UNLV’s rushing yardage.

Freshman Cameron Friel has been the starter most of the year for UNLV. He was injured in the first half of last week’s SDSU game and Justin Rogers came in and ignited the UNLV attack. He finished 15 of 21 for 2 TDs and 308 yards against a good SDSU defense. The favorite targets are Steve Jenkins and Kyle Williams, who provide over half the production for the receivers.

Falcon Updates

Injuries have built up for the Falcons again. Demonte Meeks sat out last game at ILB, but might be back this week, but TD Blackmon will sit out this game after getting injured against Nevada. That will mean Alec Mock and either Johnathan Youngblood or Bo Richter will start. Richter may have won the job with his 4 tackles and interception last week.

Unfortunately, Vince Sanford is questionable for the game at OLB/edge. His most likely replacement would be Brandon Gooding.

On the D line, Brockman and Pescaia are out again, which would likely put Jordan Jackson back at NG and Jayden Thiergood at DE, which was highly successful last week.

Michael Mack will be out again at CB, with Eian Castonguay starting in his place.

Prediction

Las Vegas has the Falcons as 18 point favorites and the over/under is 50. ESPN has Air Force with an 87.4% chance of victory.

I’ll lead my prediction with two tweets from this week:

With an offensive line operating at high efficiency, and Mr. Inside Brad Roberts, Mr. Outside Deandre Hughes, and a third running back who does this:

the Falcons will find a way to contain Charles Williams and overcome a few mistakes to beat the Rebels, 34-17. I take the over and I take UNLV to cover the spread.