Nevada VS UNLV: Three Keys And A Prediction
The Nevada Wolf Pack host their in-state rivals the UNLV Rebels in the Battle for The Fremont Cannon
Wolf Pack Host Rebels In 45th Installment of The Battle For The Fremont Cannon
The Nevada Wolf Pack will close out the regular season at home as they host their in-state rivals, the UNLV Rebels. The contest between Nevada and UNLV is set for a noon kickoff and will be televised on AT&T Sportsnet.
This contest between the Wolf Pack and the Rebels on Saturday is the 45th meeting in this rivalry better known as the Battle for Fremont Cannon. The Wolf Pack are coming into this contest against UNLV on a three game winning streak. Last week, the Wolf Pack defeated Fresno State 35-28 when running back Toa Taua scored on a three yard touchdown run with 12 seconds in the game to propel Nevada over the Bulldogs.
After the win over Fresno State, the Wolf Pack have a 7-4 record and are taking on a UNLV team that is coming off a thrilling 38-35 victory over San Jose State to improve their record to 3-8 on the season.
The celebration was short lived as it was announced this week that Tony Sanchez will be fired as head coach effective after the Nevada game. It will be interesting to see how the UNLV team will respond in Coach Sanchez’s final game as head coach.
Will the Wolf Pack defeat UNLV in the regular season finale and win back the Fremont Cannon on Saturday? Here are my keys and a prediction for Nevada-UNLV.
Nevada must contain Charles Williams
The UNLV offense this season has been inconsistent but they do have one strength: running the ball. The Rebels are fifth in the Mountain West in rushing offense as they are averaging 166 yards on the ground this season. The top running back for UNLV is junior Charles Williams who leads the Mountain West in rushing with 1,119 yards. Williams is tied for second in the Mountain West in rushing touchdowns with ten this season.
UNLV is going to run the ball to help out quarterback Kenny Oblad make some explosive plays in the air. The Wolf Pack defense has been playing well these last few weeks as they have defended the run very well and pressured the quarterback. In this contest against UNLV, the Wolf Pack defensive line (led by Ted Hendricks Award watch list finalist Dom Peterson) must stop Charles Williams and UNLV’s rushing attack on Saturday.
Establish Toa Taua and Devontae Lee in the run game
The Wolf Pack had great success running the ball last week against Fresno State. Nevada ran for a total of 253 yards in the win over the Bulldogs last Saturday night. The Nevada running backs most responsible for this successful rushing output was Toa Taua and Devonte Lee.
Taua ran for 135 yards and ran for a touchdown while Lee ran for 77 yards and scored a rushing touchdown against Fresno State.
UNLV has one of the worst run defenses in the Mountain West this season. The Rebels are tenth in the Mountain West in run defense as they are giving up an average of 193 rushing yards per game. It is pretty safe to say that the Rebels run defense is quite porous.
For Nevada to defeat UNLV and paint the Fremont Cannon blue, the running game must be established on Saturday and it starts and ends with Taua and Lee.
Nevada must play a full 60-minute game against UNLV
In last year’s contest between the Wolf Pack and the Rebels, Nevada had a 23-0 lead early in the contest and looked poised to blow out UNLV. But the Rebels came back to defeat the Wolf Pack 34-29. The Wolf Pack strong start against the Rebels faded away as UNLV pulled off the incredible comeback to defeat Nevada.
Heading into this year’s contest, the Wolf Pack are playing their best football this season while UNLV is in the midst of another down year and will be looking for a new head coach. On paper, Nevada is the better team so it is important for Nevada to go out and play well for the full game. If the Wolf Pack have a huge lead against the Rebels, they cannot let up and have a repeat performance of the 2018 game against UNLV where they blew a 23 point lead.
If the Wolf Pack play well for a full 60 minutes against UNLV, they should win their fourth straight game and most importantly win the Fremont Cannon.
Prediction and Score
Nevada has played very well in this final part of the season. Winning three straight games which includes back-to back road wins at San Diego State and Fresno State.
In comes the UNLV Rebels who are coming off a win over San Jose State but with the firing of head coach Tony Sanchez, it is going to be fascinating to see how UNLV will play on Saturday. Will they wilt away due to the cloud of uncertainty with the head coaching spot now vacated or will the Rebels play inspired football to send Tony Sanchez out a winner in his final game.
The Rebels offense is clearly not the best unit in the Mountain West but with Charles Williams running the ball, UNLV has a chance. However, the Wolf Pack defense has been good at stopping the run recently so it may be up to UNLV quarterback Kenny Oblad to make plays which he hasn’t done consistently enough.
Nevada also has an edge in running the ball with Toa Taua and Devonte Lee running the ball very well as of late The Wolf Pack’s stellar running game will be a big plus going up against UNLV’s porous run defense.
This contest between the Wolf Pack and Rebels has been a tough game to figure out recently but I like the Wolf Pack in this contest due to their strong run defense and strong rushing offense
Score Prediction: Nevada 38 UNLV 28