It was a familiar narrative for the UNLV Rebels (3-7) Saturday evening against the Colorado State Rams (5-5) in Fort Collins. A one score game in the second half turned into a runaway win for the Rams in a 49-35 CSU victory.
Offensively, fans got their money's worth on Saturday. The teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Colorado State primarily relied on the ground game, amassing 325 yards, 151 of those on just 19 carries from Dalyn Dawkins. Rams quarterback Nick Stevens did his part through the air, completing 13 of 19 passes for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns.
UNLV quarterback Blake Decker looked fantastic in the first half. The senior connected on 13 of his 19 pass attempts for 176 yards and two scores. Then a huge hit from Deonte Clyburn happened. Then Decker was no longer in the game. Then it was a return to the Kurt Palandech era.
With Palandech under center, the Rebels were unable to keep up with Colorado State offensively. Palandech completed just 9 of 24 passes for 154 yards and a score. Largely one-dimensional after the exit of Decker, UNLV did get a big game from running back Lexington Thomas. The freshman topped the century mark for the third time this season, and second consecutive game, rushing for 118 yards on 11 carries.
The Rams started to pull away with their first drive in the fourth. An 11 play, 63 yard drive elapsing nearly six minutes culminated with a Stevens to Rashard Higgins 4 yard touchdown pass to push the Ram lead to 42-28. Six minutes later, Colorado State put the finishing touches on a 68 yard drive with a 1 yard rushing touchdown from Nu'uvali Fa'apito that put the game out of reach.
Like the Boise State game, the UNLV offense stuttered by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. The Rebels tacked on a touchdown late in the game, but only after the Rams had opened up a three touchdown lead. UNLV would recover an onside kick after tightening the game to two scores, but that drive ended on the Colorado State 24.
UNLV's Devonte Boyd had a career day. The sophomore wide receiver caught 8 passes for 131 yards, his most as a Rebel. Saturday was Boyd's third straight game with at least 6 catches and 100 yards receiving.
UNLV returns to Las Vegas next Saturday for a home date at Sam Boyd Stadium with the San Diego State Aztecs. The win against the Rebels wraps up the home schedule for Colorado State. They finish on the road at New Mexico and Fresno State.