Southern Utah vs. UNLV: Game Preview, Kick Time, TV & Radio Schedule, Livestream, Prediction
The Rebels open 2019 at home against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
UNLV begins its last year at Sam Boyd against an FCS foe.
WEEK 1: Southern Utah Thunderbirds vs. UNLV Rebels
WHEN: Saturday, August 31 — 7:00 PM PT/8:00 PM MT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, Nevada (35,500)
RADIO: The UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on 100.9 FM and ESPN 1100 AM.
SERIES RECORD: UNLV leads the series 3-1. In the last meeting on September 24, 2011, however, Southern Utah defeated the Rebels 41-16.
GAME NOTES (PDF): UNLV | Southern Utah
ODDS (via OddsShark): UNLV -24
2018 STAT PROFILES: link
The UNLV Rebels start their most critical season in some time by hosting the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. SUU has fallen on its own hard times recently, so while there’s plenty of optimism that the home team can begin its farewell to Sam Boyd Stadium on a positive note, it’s hard not to feel some apprehension. We would’ve said the same thing two years ago, after all.
Here’s what UNLV can do to quiet any potential concerns and earn the win over Southern Utah.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
1. Test Southern Utah’s run defense early and often.
Among SUU’s myrid struggles last fall, one thing in particular aligns well with UNLV’s primary strength on offense: The Thunderbirds allowed 6.2 yards per carry despite a pair of defenders, linebackers Taylor Nelson and Chinedu Ahanonu, combining for 22.5 tackles for loss. Both are gone in 2019, so there’s a golden opportunity for Charles Williams and company to literally run away with this game.
2. Win the turnover battle convincingly.
One note from last year’s team that should be worth following into 2019 is whether the team is as successful when the defense is creating takeaways. UNLV had six games last year where they forced at least two turnovers, including all four of their wins and two one-score losses to Air Force and Hawaii.
Javin White had four of the Rebels’ nine forced fumbles last year, but he’ll need more help from the wealth of new contributors in the front seven to help the defense get off to a strong start on the turnover front.
3. Make it easy to move the chains.
If the running game can set the tone, this key should take care of itself. The Rebels were great on third-and-short in 2018 with a 92.3% Success Rate that ranked fourth in the FBS, but they had issues getting into that situation consistently and ranked 119th with 6.8% of their third-down chances requiring one yard for a new set of downs.
It’s not a coincidence that 60% of those same situations saw the Rebels face third-and-seven-or-more. That ranked 128th nationally and has to get better for UNLV to assert its will on opponents this fall.
Asking the Rebels to cover such a wide spread seems like asking a lot, but when you consider that SUU is perceived to be a bottom-three team in the Big Sky this fall, it’d be a shock if they failed to make good on their substantial advantages. The Thunderbirds did win nine games two years ago, but expect UNLV to remind Southern Utah that life comes at you fast. UNLV 45, Southern Utah 17