Boise State vs. UNLV: Three Keys to a Rebels Win
The Rebels look to rebound at home against the Broncos. Here’s how to watch the game and what to watch for in UNLV’s upset bid.
A tall task awaits.
WEEK 6: #16 Boise State Broncos (4-0, 1-0 Mountain West) vs. UNLV Rebels (1-3, 0-1)
WHEN: Saturday, October 5 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, Nevada (40,000)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: You can use a free seven-day trial of FuboTV by clicking here.
RADIO: The UNLV broadcast can be found on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM, while the Boise State broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Bronco Sports Network. The game can also be streamed through TuneIn.
SERIES RECORD: Boise State leads the overall series 7-3. In the last meeting on November 18, 2016, the Broncos defeated the Rebels, 42-25, in Boise.
LAST WEEK: UNLV suffered a big 53-17 defeat at Wyoming, while Boise State was idle following a 30-19 win over Air Force in Week 4.
ODDS (via OddsShark): Boise State -23
SP+ PROJECTION: Boise State by 18.6 (86% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 27.9
Things don’t get any easier for the reeling UNLV Rebels this Saturday, as they host the Boise State Broncos in Week 6.
The Broncos, unsurprisingly, have played like the best team in the conference and earned, for now, the inside track to the Group of 5’s New Year’s Day Six bowl spot. At a glance, this looks like one of the most lopsided matchups of the weekend — none of the last four games between these two teams have been decided by fewer than 17 points — but if UNLV plays like a team whose collective backs are against the wall, stranger things have happened.
Here’s how the Rebels can overcome the long odds and defeat Boise State.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
1. Get a home run play (preferably more than one) early.
There aren’t that many areas in which a Rebels fan might find silver linings, but one statistic of note is that Boise State ranks 117th nationally by Defensive Opportunity Rate, meaning that 53.2% of their opponents’ carries went for four yards or more. This is probably skewed by the fact that the Broncos have been most susceptible to the run early in games, allowing 7.22 YPC in the first quarter and 2.67 YPC after that, but that makes creating that big break as soon as possible a huge sticking point.
If Charles Williams is healthy, though, there’s no one in the Mountain West better suited to making that happen. UNLV’s junior running back already has 12 carries of more than ten yards, so he could easily have the biggest impact in helping the Rebels dictate the flow of the game.
2. Don’t be the team that can’t get in Hank Bachmeier’s face.
One of the lingering narratives surrounding Boise State’s start to the year is the fact their freshman quarterback has taken more hits than anyone else in the country. A stint or two from backup Chase Cord could alleviate that trend, but there’s also a lingering question about whether UNLV can actually do what everyone else has done so far.
Through four games, the Broncos have allowed a sack rate of 7.6%, which ranked 95th in the FBS, but the Rebels defense boasts a sack rate of just 4.6% and that ranks 95th. Gabe McCoy has yet to record a sack in 2019 and the entire defensive line has just one takedown total, so ending that dearth of production could go a long way toward an upset bid.
3. Keep Boise State’s receivers from running wild.
This one is pretty straight-forward: UNLV has allowed a 20-plus-yard pass play on 12% of opponents’ attempts and Boise State has earned a 20-plus-yard pass play on 16.7% of its own attempts. John Hightower, Khalil Shakir and company will have a significant talent advantage on the Rebels secondary, so limiting the damage they’re likely to do can help UNLV survive the aerial attack.
Boise State is pretty clearly the class of the Mountain West to date while UNLV is… well, pretty bad. The uncertainty about Williams’s availability casts doubt on the team’s best-case scenario (which was already pretty dim), but there really isn’t much difference between a mitigated disaster and an unmitigated one.
Boise State 38, UNLV 10