Nevada Vs UNLV: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Wolf Pack return home to Reno to take on UNLV in the 47th meeting for the Fremont Cannon
Nevada Returns Home To Reno To Face Winless UNLV For The Fremont Cannon
WEEK 9: Nevada Wolf Pack vs. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
WHERE: Mackay Stadium: Reno, Nevada
TV: CBS Sports Network
SERIES RECORD: Nevada leads the all-time series 28-18. The last meeting between the two schools was on October 31st 2020 when Nevada won 37-19.
ODDS: Nevada (-20.5)
SP+ PROJECTION: Nevada by 18.8
FEI PROJECTION: Nevada by 14.5
The Nevada Wolf Pack return home to face off against their in-state rivals, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. The Wolf Pack are looking to get back on the winning track after losing to Fresno State last Saturday while UNLV looks to end a 13-game losing streak.
The Wolf Pack are looking to stay in the race for the West division championship and keep the Fremont Cannon blue while UNLV looks to score an upset over their in-state rivals.
Here are my keys for a Nevada victory and my prediction
Focus on containing Charles Williams
Once again, the UNLV running back is one of the top backs in the Mountain West this season. Williams has rushed for 719 yards and has scored seven rushing touchdowns for the Rebels in the 2021 season. Williams is averaging 102.7 rushing yards per game and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry for UNLV.
Last week against San Jose State, Williams ran for 94 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries as the Rebels fell to the Spartans 27-20. Williams is one of the rare shining lights for this Rebel offense that has had four different quarterbacks take snaps this season. And if the Rebels are going to snap their 13-game losing streak, it’ll be because of Williams playing brilliantly.
The Wolf Pack must key in on stopping Williams and provide better run defense than they did last week against Fresno State. Filling in for the injured Ronnie Rivers, Bulldogs running back Jordan Mims ran for 134 yards on 23 carries and scored a touchdown. The Bulldogs muscled the Wolf Pack in the trenches and was one of the reasons why Nevada lost a close contest last weekend.
For Nevada to win, their run defense must be much better than it was last week. And it would also help if Nevada’s run offense improved from their pitiful 47 yards of rushing output from last week as well.
Protect Carson Strong Better Than Last Week
Let us not mince words on this: The Wolf Pack offensive line was terrible last week against Fresno State.
The Nevada offensive line has been inconsistent all season and last week against the Bulldogs, the Wolf Pack offensive line was not good.
Carson Strong was sacked five times last week and in some of those instances when Strong was sacked, the Bulldogs were only rushing three men (yes you read that correctly only three men). Between failing to protect Carson Strong and failing to provide adequate run blocking, the Wolf Pack offensive line had a below average game last week.
This week does not offer much of a reprieve for the Wolf Pack offensive line as they face a Rebels defense that while collectively they are not good (10th in the Mountain West in Run Defense, 11th in Pass Defense) they feature two talented playmakers on defense in Jacoby Windmon and Austin Ajiake.
Windmon is third in the Mountain West in total tackles with 67 while Ajiake is fifth in the conference with 64 tackles. For Nevada to win on Friday, the Union( Nevada’s nickname for their offensive line) must protect Carson Strong better and account for Windmon and Ajiake.
Don’t Overlook The Rebels, Bring Your “A” Game Nevada
UNLV is 0-7 and have lost 13 straight games dating back to last season but the Rebels this season have been competitive despite their winless record.
The Rebels lost to Eastern Washington by two points in overtime, Fresno State by eight points, UTSA and San Jose State by seven points and Utah State by four points. This Rebels team is not going to be a pushover so it is imperative for Nevada to stay focused and sharp on Friday. Nevada must come out of the gates and be their best against UNLV in order to keep pace in the chase for the West division in the Mountain West,
Because if Nevada slacks off and gives UNLV an opening, the Rebels will take advantage and Nevada could see themselves losing the game, the Fremont Cannon and a chance to play for the Mountain West championship.
On paper, this is a game that Nevada should win over UNLV. The Rebels have lost 13 straight games and the Wolf Pack have a significant talent advantage over the perennial rebuilding Rebels.
However despite their long losing streak, the Rebels have been competitive this season in close losses to Utah State and San Jose State to name two games. The Rebels have the look of a team that is closing in on their first win since November 2019 when they defeated Nevada in Reno in overtime.
And the Wolf Pack look vulnerable especially after a close loss last week against Fresno State. The Wolf Pack could not protect Carson Strong nor be able to run the ball or stop the run, The Rebels with Charles Williams are very capable of running the ball and keeping the Wolf Pack offense off the field.
UNLV will need that to have a chance of snapping their long losing streak. However, I think Nevada has the talent especially on offense to handle UNLV and the Wolf Pack will rectify their issues with running the ball (I expect Taua and Lee to have a big game against UNLVs below average run defense) and rush defense. Carson Strong and the weapons on offense will be enough to hold off UNLV in close contest for the Fremont Cannon.
Score Prediction: Nevada 37 UNLV 28