UNLV vs San Jose State: Rebels Game Preview, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Rebels will visit San Jose for a meeting with the Spartans and an early lead in the West division on the line
4-1 Rebels ready to face 3-1 Spartans in San Jose
WEEK 6: UNLV Rebels at San Jose State Spartans
WHERE: CEFCU Stadium, San Jose, California
WHEN: Friday, October 7, 2022 – 10:30pm EST (7:30pm PST)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of FuboTV, by following this link.
RADIO: ESPN 1100AM & 100.9 FM
SERIES RECORD: This will be the 27th meeting between UNLV and San Jose State. The Spartans have won 19 of the last 26 matchups.
WEBSITES: sjsuspartans.com is the official San Jose State University Football website | unlvrebels.com is the University of Nevada Las Vegas Athletics official website.
GAME NOTES (PDF): UNLV | San Jose State
ODDS: SJSU Spartans by 7.0
SP+ PROJECTION: SJSU Spartans by 3.7
FEI PROJECTION: SJSU by 2.0
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: SJSU Spartans by 8.76
UNLV will head into San Jose on Friday night, with much more than each team’s winning streak on the line. It remains early in the conference schedule but given the recent troubles for Fresno State and San Diego State, the winner of this game could take a significant step to winning the West division and earning a spot in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game in December.
Both teams have proven resilient in their most recent outings and will look for a strong start early. UNLV staggered against New Mexico in Allegiant Stadium for much of the first half last Friday night, before ultimately shutting down the Lobos’ offense, wearing down the defense, and pulling away for the 31-20 victory. San Jose State, meanwhile, exchanged field position with Wyoming through the first quarter before finding a few big plays and tightening up their own defense for a solid 33-16 win in Laramie.
Headed into this game, there are more than a few similarities that will make this game a lot of fun to watch. Both teams will feature mobile quarterbacks in UNLV’s Doug Brumfield and San Jose State’s Chevan Cordeiro, both guys that can make the deep throws as easily as they can rush to keep a defense on its heels. Both defenses will be put to the test but play an opportunistic “bend but don’t break” style with stout defensive fronts and capable playmakers in the secondary. And as both teams have proven thus far, even in each of their one-score losses to Power 5 opponents, both UNLV and San Jose State can play four quarters, and we could expect no lead to be safe until late in the game.
Week 5 Mountain West Bowl Projections
Based on how well these teams match up with one another, UNLV can anticipate their toughest game of this early season this Friday night. And to come away with the victory in San Jose, here a few keys to what the Rebels will need to do:
Challenge the Spartans’ Defense Early and Often
Headed into this game, UNLV’s offense will once again face their toughest test of the season, this time against the Spartans’ 23rd ranked defense, giving up only 306.8 yards per game. San Jose State’s defense plays an aggressive 3-4 that will utilize stunts and blitzes to drop back into coverage or apply pressure; the results have often led to disruptive plays, although with limited turnovers or sacks.
Starting with the Rebels’ running game, once again the teams match up very closely. UNLV is averaging 168.0 rushing yards in each of their five games thus far, while the Spartans are giving up 152.0 per game. Getting Aidan Robbins, Doug Brumfield and the rest of the UNLV rushing attack started early would be a big success for the Rebels. It will be interesting to see whether the Rebels utilize more option plays to the outside, as they did against Utah State, to challenge this defense or opt to go “strength on strength” and allow Robbins to lead the way between the tackles.
Equally critical for UNLV will be its passing game. Once again, it appears the Rebels will be without wide receivers Kyle Williams and Jeff Weimer; Coach Arroyo in his weekly press conference referred to “some optimistic news” regarding their readiness, but also seemed to imply that more in terms of later this season than this week. That will mean continued roles for Senika McKie and Kalvin Souders this week, opposite Ricky White, when Doug Brumfield is looking downfield. The deep threats that each of these receivers can offer, as well as being able to work in space on shorter routes, will be critical to pushing forward against this Spartans’ defense.
On Defense, the Secondary Will Be Primary
Outside of quarterback Chevan Cordeiro’s mobility, the San Jose offense will rely heavily upon wide receivers that can get up to make the catch and quickly move upfield. Led by Nevada transfers Elijah Cooks and Justin Lockhart, with former Nevada transfer Charles Ross, expect this passing offense to challenge cornerbacks Nohl Williams and Cameron Oliver, and force safeties Jordyn Morgan and Johnathan Baldwin to play back in coverage.
Overall, the Spartans will try to attack in a style very similar to what the Rebels have seen from themselves all season: an aggressive running game, with a mobile quarterback in the mix, being utilized to set up a passing game where outside receivers can outplay their defenders in space. If UNLV is forced to play more zone to handle the Spartans’ passing game, it will be all the more critical for players upfront like Adam Plant Jr. and Elijah Shelton to get pressure on Cordeiro and force early throws or have him abandon plays altogether.
Continue to Win on Special Teams
One area where the Rebels will need to exploit their advantage is on special teams. San Jose State’s kicker, Taren Schive, has already missed four field goal attempts on the year, three of them from less than 40 yards. This should force the Spartans into more 4th down conversion attempts, knowing they cannot rely on settling for three points too often. It’s one less aspect of the game the Rebels will need to be too concerned with and can instead focus on dissecting the Spartans’ short yardage game.
Conversely, Rebels kicker Daniel Gutierrez is coming off arguably his best game, connecting on all of his tries, including three field goals of more than forty yards. On the season, Gutierrez has connected on all six of his field goal attempts and is 23 of 23 in PATs.
Penalties Could Prove Costly
Last but not least, it might be of note that there does appear to be a slight disadvantage for the Rebels when it comes to penalties. Just as the Rebels were the beneficiary of a few late penalties that extinguished any hope of a comeback for New Mexico last week, this week UNLV will face a Spartans team that is arguably among the least penalized in the conference. Nationally, the Spartans currently rank 16th nationally in fewest penalty yards, with just 184 through four games.
It may turn out to be much ado about nothing, but Rebels fans should not be expecting a San Jose team to lose its composure or pick up a careless penalty to UNLV’s benefit late in the game. The Rebels will likely need a disciplined game from start to finish, and it is one that they are more than capable of playing.
Consider this a pleasant surprise from the schedule makers: two winning teams meeting in early October with clear implications on a conference title game. These teams appear to be evenly matched and well prepared for this contest. Both quarterbacks will lead strong offenses and the defenses are capable of big plays as well.
For what it’s worth, from a betting perspective, the point spread in this game has recently moved from San Jose State being favored by 4.5 or 5.0 points to now 7.0 points on seemingly no significant news. It will be interesting to note if any information is revealed later in the week or if this move simply reflects early bettors getting in on the action ahead of the public.
Whatever the outcome, we should all expect a great game.