UNLV vs. Vanderbilt: Game Preview, Kick Time, TV & Radio Schedule, Odds, Prediction
The Rebels travel to SEC country and face the Commodores. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for in UNLV’s upset bid.
How can the Rebels show some fight?
WEEK 7: UNLV Rebels (1-4, 0-2 Mountain West) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (1-4, 0-3 SEC)
WHEN: Saturday, October 12 — 1:00 PM PT/4:00 PM ET
WHERE: Vanderbilt Stadium; Nashville, Tennessee (40,350)
TV: SEC Network
STREAMING: You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of FuboTV by clicking here.
RADIO: The UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM, while the Vanderbilt broadcast can be found in Nashville on 1510 AM (WLAC) and 98.3 FM (WNRQ). Audio can also be streamed via TuneIn.
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between the two teams.
LAST WEEK: UNLV lost at home, 38-13, against Boise State. Vanderbilt remained winless in conference play with a 31-6 loss on the road at Mississippi.
ODDS (via OddsShark): UNLV +14.5
FEI PROJECTION: Vanderbilt by 12.3
SP+ PROJECTION: Vanderbilt by 14.6 (80% win probability)
The UNLV Rebels close out their 2019 non-conference slate on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores. It’s a matchup not likely to draw much national attention, but make no mistake: There’s a lot at stake here for the visitors.
Since the early promising returns against Southern Utah, head coach Tony Sanchez has struggled to turn around an offense having its worst four-game stretch since 2011. They’ll need it against a Vanderbilt squad that’s given up just as many points per game as they have — 37.4 PPG, to be exact.
Here’s how the Rebels can snap their losing streak and score a road win over the Commodores.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
1. Slow Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
Vanderbilt’s senior running back hasn’t been quite as explosive as he was in in 2018, but he is still the most dangerous weapon the Commodores will have at their disposal. Vaughn ranks third among SEC runners with 467 yards, at a healthy 5.4 YPC, and he set a season-high with 138 rushing yards in Vandy’s lone win against Northern Illinois.
As good as he can be, though, Vaughn still runs behind an experienced but iffy offensive line. The Commodores ground game currently sports a Stuff Rate (percentage of carries by running backs that are stopped at or before the line of scrimmage) of 25.7%, which ranks 122nd among FBS teams, so while UNLV’s run defense isn’t exactly a strength — their 16 tackles for loss against FBS competition, coincidentally, also ranks 122nd — limiting the boom in Vaughn’s boom-or-bust game will be important.
2. Get some much-needed third down wins.
One metric that seems likely to decide this game is which team is able to keep the chains moving on third downs. To be clear, neither team has been any good at this: UNLV and Vanderbilt rank 126th and 127th, respectively, in third-down conversion rate with percentages of 28.6% and 27%.
The Rebels may be able to create an edge for themselves if they can set up third-and-short, though. When comparing Power Success Rates (percentage of runs on 3rd or 4th down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown) on both offense and defense, UNLV owns the season edge in both cases: 63.2% to Vandy’s 58.3% on offense, and 60% against 72.7% on defense.
3. Help Kenyon Oblad get into a rhythm early.
It really can’t get much worse than it did in the first half against Boise State, but UNLV needs to utilize a short passing game to help Oblad, who will make his second straight start.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of role tight ends Giovanni Fauolo and Noah Bean play in this regard, as the duo have been quietly productive relative to the rest of the Mountain West. To date, they’ve combined for 19 catches and 250 yards and Bean, in particular, has been proficient at moving the chains with six first downs on his seven receptions. Play action with easy throws could keep the Commodores from keying on the run, which they seem likely to do.
It’s been a few weeks since the Rebels have looked like they could put everything together on both sides of the ball, but it might still look like a surprise if the offense is able to revive itself against a defense giving up an SEC-high 7.58 yards per play. Don’t bet on it, though, especially not on the road.
Vanderbilt 28, UNLV 14