Arkansas State vs. UNLV: Game Preview, Kick Time, Facebook Livestream, Prediction
The Rebels continue their homestand by hosting the Red Wolves. Here’s how to watch the Facebook livestream and what to watch for.
Can the Rebels continue their strong start?
WEEK 2: Arkansas State Red Wolves (0-1) vs. UNLV Rebels (1-0)
WHEN: Saturday, September 7 — 7:00 PM PT/8:00 PM MT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, Nevada (40,000)
RADIO: The UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM. The Arkansas State broadcast can be found in and around Jonesboro on 107.9 FM.
SERIES RECORD: The all-time series is tied 1-1. In the last meeting on September 22, 2018, the Red Wolves defeated the Rebels, 27-20, in Jonesboro.
LAST WEEK: UNLV rode a strong running game to an easy 56-23 victory over Southern Utah at home. Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless caught four touchdown passes, but that wasn’t enough to avoid a 37-30 defeat against SMU.
ODDS (via OddsShark): UNLV -1.5
FEI PROJECTION: Arkansas State by 6.7
SP+ PROJECTION: UNLV by 4.1 (59% win probability)
After coasting to a victory over Southern Utah in their season opener, the UNLV Rebels will have a much tougher test on their hands in hosting the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Week 2.
The big story surrounding Arkansas State regards head coach Blake Anderson, who remains on leave from the team following his wife’s passing in the off-season but, for one week, the Red Wolves under interim coach David Duggan looked like they should remain in the mix as a Sun Belt contender with a close loss to SMU.
Here’s how the Rebels can secure their second straight home win by defeating the Red Wolves.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
1. Slow Logan Bonner and the passing game.
Arkansas State’s junior quarterback had a slow start against the Mustangs last week, but it seems clear Duggan won’t hesitate to put a game on Bonner’s right arm. They threw the ball 50 times overall and 19 of their 25 first downs came through the air.
Southern Utah wasn’t really able to challenge UNLV with its passing game in Week 1, but that was a major hindrance for this defense in 2018 when they finished 9th in the Mountain West by opponents’ passer rating and yards per attempt allowed and 10th with 29 passing touchdowns allowed. One thing that the Rebels may be able to hang onto, however, is that ASU struggled last week in more obvious passing situations, finishing 0-for-8 on third downs of seven or more yards.
2. Control the clock with the ground game.
One way to keep a potent offense at bay, of course, is to keep it on the sidelines, so the tandem of Armani Rogers and Charles Williams should be expected to shoulder most of that responsibility. Even if they don’t average about ten yards per carry again, as they did against SUU, the idea remains the same.
Arkansas State has a tough defensive line, however. Kevin Thurmon, Forrest Merrill and William Bradley-King combined for 29 tackles for loss in 2018, so there are no pushovers up front. If the Rebels can continue their third-down successes in particular, though — they were 6-of-12 in Week 1 after converting just 37% on 2018 — that could be a significant upper hand.
3. Eliminate the special teams mistakes.
In a conference full of top-notch specialists, UNLV lags far behind in its contributions on special teams. After finishing 128th in Special Teams S&P+ last season, however, the problem got even worse in the opener against SUU, enough so that the Las Vegas Sun’s Mike Grimala took a close look at whether the Rebels should even bother with kick and punt returns.
If the game is as close as prognosticators expect it to be, the pressure will be on players like Hayes Hicken and Tyree Jackson to avoid tilting the field position game in Arkansas State’s favor. It’ll be on kicker Daniel Gutierrez to improve upon the 60% field goal rate the Rebels got from Evan Pantels last season. In any case, Rebels fans may want to hold their collective breath.
In a game featuring such contrasts of styles, it’ll come down to which team can better utilize its strength. However, given that the Rebels still have lingering questions about their ability to defend against what Arkansas State does well, they seem more likely to cough up the one big play that might make the difference in this game.
Arkansas State 30, UNLV 24