UNLV vs. Arizona State: Game Preview, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Rebels hit the road for the first time in 2021 to face Arizona State. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for against the Sun Devils.
Can the Rebels defy the odds?
WEEK 2: UNLV Rebels (0-1) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0)
WHEN: Saturday, September 11 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: Sun Devil Stadium; Tempe, AZ
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes ESPN2, by following this link.
You can also find the audio broadcast on LVSportsNetwork.com.
RADIO: The UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM. The Arizona State broadcast can be found in Tempe on 98.7 FM.
SERIES RECORD: UNLV leads the all-time series, 1-0. In the lone previous meeting on September 13, 2008, the Rebels defeated the Sun Devils, 23-20, in overtime.
LAST WEEK: UNLV lost at home to Eastern Washington in overtime, 35-33, while Arizona State defeated Southern Utah at home, 41-14.
ODDS (as of 9/7, via Vegas Insider): Arizona State -32.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Arizona State by 31.7
FEI PROJECTION: Arizona State by 23.2
After absorbing a tough home loss last Thursday, the UNLV Rebels take to the road for another big assignment against the Arizona State Sun Devils. ASU’s lingering off-field issues didn’t seem to affect the team’s on-field performance on Saturday, when the Sun Devils coasted to an easy win against FCS Southern Utah.
Here’s how the Rebels can shock college football and seal an upset against the Sun Devils.
Three Keys to a UNLV Victory
1. Contain Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum.
Touch for touch, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dangerous playmaker anywhere on the west coast than the Sun Devils running back, who picked up right where he left off in 2020 by averaging 8.3 yards per carry and scoring twice on just seven rushing attempts in the blowout against Southern Utah.
If that wasn’t a tough enough assignment, the sophomore Trayanum proved he could be just as explosive as White against the Thunderbirds with 8.7 yards per carry and two touchdowns of his own on six rushing attempts. UNLV’s defensive line has yet to prove it can consistently disrupt so this key may be easier said than done but if ASU runs away with a big lead early, the Rebels probably don’t have the horses on offense to keep up.
2. Protect Doug Brumfield.
Head coach Marcus Arroyo named Brumfield his new starting quarterback yesterday, so the name of the game now is to ensure the young Rebel isn’t overwhelmed by a defense that forced SUU into a number of big mistakes last weekend. The best way to do that? Give him time to throw against a defense that had a solid, but not great, pass rush last year (6.2% sack rate, 70th nationally) and picked up just two sacks against the Thunderbirds.
Because the Sun Devils have to respect Brumfield’s mobility and a resurgent Charles Williams in the backfield, utilizing play action to get the new quarterback some easy throws might be something you see early and often, which means this could be a game where big targets like tight end Giovani Fauolo and wide receiver Zyell Griffin have an important role.
3. Make Arizona State pay for mental errors.
Under Herm Edwards, Arizona State hasn’t exactly been a disciplined team: The Sun Devils averaged 6.5 penalties per game in 2019, then had seven per game in the truncated 2020 season and 13 for 135 yards in last week’s opener against Southern Utah.
The trick for UNLV will be to keep ASU from working their way out of less-than-ideal situations where SUU could not. For instance, a roughing-the-kicker penalty extended a Thunderbirds drive in the first quarter, but SUU fumbled just outside of the red zone. Arizona State then drove down the field to claim a two-touchdown lead, though they were able to turn a 2nd-and-23 at midfield into the 4th-and-1 situation that White eventually scored on from 26 yards out. Long story short, if the Sun Devils want to beat themselves, UNLV needs to do what it must to ensure they feel it.
Last year’s comeback against Eastern Washington is a strong sign that the program is moving in its intended direction, even if the overall result wasn’t what anyone hoped for, but this seems like a week in which that progress will be obscured even further. The Sun Devils are much more talented on offense and established stars like Jacoby Windmon and Adam Plant Jr. didn’t get much help in slowing the Eagles a week ago. It doesn’t seem likely to change on Saturday night.
Arizona State 42, UNLV 17