UNLV vs. San Jose State: Three Keys to a Rebels Win
The Rebels hit the road to face the undefeated Spartans. Here’s our preview of how UNLV can take down SJSU.
Can UNLV pull off a shocker?
WEEK 11: UNLV Rebels (0-3) vs. San Jose State Spartans (3-0)
WHEN: Saturday, November 14 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: CEFCU Stadium; San Jose, CA
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS2, by following this link.
You can also find the audio broadcast on TuneIn.
RADIO: The UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM. The San Jose State broadcast can be found on 1220 AM out of Palo Alto, 95.3 FM in San Francisco, and on 90.7 FM (KSJS) in and around San Jose.
SERIES RECORD: San Jose State leads the series 16-7-1. However, in the last meeting on November 23, 2019, the Rebels defeated the Spartans, 38-35, in Las Vegas.
LAST WEEK: UNLV lost at home to Fresno State, 40-27, while San Jose State defeated San Diego State on the road, 28-17.
ODDS (as of 11/12, via Vegas Insider): San Jose State -15.5
SP+ PROJECTION: San Jose State by 18.5 (86% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: San Jose State by 16.8
As the Mountain West football season nears its halfway point, the UNLV Rebels hit the road once again to take on the San Jose State Spartans.
Brent Brennan’s Spartans have been one of the most pleasant surprises in college football and hope to claim their first 4-0 start since 1955 with a win over the Rebels. On paper, an undefeated team and a winless team looks like a big mismatch, but the Rebels have progressed week by week and, as it wasn’t that long ago that they themselves were downtrodden, SJSU won’t be inclined to take Marcus Arroyo’s team lightly.
Here’s how UNLV can seize their first victory of the ball by taking down the Spartans.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
1. Get another strong game from the defensive ends.
Things got away from UNLV late last week, but one big thing that did a lot to keep them in the game was the pressure they put on Fresno State in the first half. That’s a credit to Jacoby Windmon and Adam Plant, who have combined for five sacks in the last two weeks.
San Jose State’s tackle duo, Jackson Snyder and Jaime Navarro, are another tough assignment, but the hope is that Windmon and Plant can frustrate whoever is under center in the same way as San Diego State early last week. The trick is to keep that pressure on: Regardless of whoever has been at quarterback for SJSU, the offensive line has done a very good job of preventing sacks with a 0.9% rate that ranks eighth among FBS teams after three games.
2. Get the long-awaited breakout from Charles Williams.
The Chuck Wagon has seen plenty of work in the early going, averaging 22 carries per game, but the explosive element of the UNLV ground attack hasn’t come all the way back just yet. Williams ran for ten or more yards on 15.1% of his runs in 2019, but that rate has fallen to 10.6% in the Rebels’ first three games this fall.
As a team, UNLV’s 12.4% rate means the outlook is a little rosier, but you can’t really depend upon Max Gilliam breaking a long touchdown run every week. All it may take for the Rebels to flip the game in their favor is one or two more chunk plays from their best offensive weapon.
3. Make the most of red zone opportunities.
One surprising statistic heading into this game is that, through three weeks, UNLV has actually had more chances in the red zone than San Jose State. The bigger difference, though, is that the Spartans are 9-for-9 turning those opportunities into points, including seven touchdowns, while the Rebels are only 8-of-11 with just four scores.
This is where even an incrementally better performance from Gilliam could make a massive difference. The Rebels haven’t been shy about giving him chances — his 19 red zone pass attempts are tied for the most in the conference with Nevada’s Carson Strong — but he currently sports a 47.4% completion rate inside the 20 and, more importantly, has thrown just three touchdowns.
UNLV continued to make strides and gave Fresno State a few headaches last Saturday, but killer mistakes eventually did the Rebels in late. There’s a chance they could slow the game down and force the Spartans to make every possession count, especially if Nick Nash sees the majority of playing time at quarterback, but the improvements on both sides of the ball haven’t erased all of the lingering questions about how consistently they can make plays.
It should be more competitive than a lot of people perhaps expect, but the Rebels will have to wait to claim their first victory of the fall.
San Jose State 31, UNLV 21