UNLV (1-3) at Utah State (3-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Romney Stadium (25,513) -- Logan, Utah. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNLV 1-3, USU 2-0. Away Record: UNLV 0-0, USU 1-1. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, USU 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 1-0, USU 0-0. Series Record: Utah State leads, 12-7.
GAME NOTES: Leaving the friendly confines of Sam Boyd Stadium for the first time this season, the UNLV Rebels make their way to Romney Stadium in Logan this weekend where they will tangle with the Utah State Aggies in non- conference action.
Looking back on the outcomes, staying at home for the first four games wasn't exactly the best idea for the Rebels. The team did manage to slip by Air Force last Saturday in a 38-35 final to kick off the Mountain West Conference slate in grand style, but that victory was just the first of the season following three straight setbacks for the squad. UNLV, which prior to last week's outcome had one of the longest losing streaks in the nation at eight games, also snapped a series losing streak to the Falcons of five games with the decision.
As for the Aggies, they are at the other end of the success spectrum after four games with three victories already. Were it not for a couple of missed opportunities in the 16-14 road loss to Wisconsin back on Sept. 15, the Aggies could easily have an unblemished record at the moment.
Nevertheless, Utah State bounced back from that disappointing loss to the Badgers by taking out Colorado State last weekend in a 31-19 final, which means the squad has held all four opponents this season to 20 points or less.
UNLV won the most recent meeting back in 2008 by a score of 27-17, but the all-time series still favors USU, 12-7.
Scoring a season-high 38 points, the Rebels leaned heavily on their running attack which produced 199 yards and four touchdowns versus the Falcons. Bradley Randle finished with 66 yards and three TDs on 20 carries, his yardage total second behind Tim Cornett who recorded 114 yards and a TD on 17 attempts.
Nick Sherry also moved the ball well for the Rebels as he converted 23-of-32 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown, along with one interception.
The run defense for the Rebels was a bit shell-shocked as it surrendered 352 yards and five touchdowns, but that tends to be the M.O. for the Air Force offense every time it takes the field.
Despite being bruised by the Falcons, UNLV is still giving up 183.8 ypg on the ground so far this season, which is rather respectable given how badly the Academy tends to skew the stats for many opponents.
Cornett, who has three 100-yard rushing games, currently ranks fourth in the conference and 12th in the nation with his 117.8 ypg and that should be a comfort to Sherry who, despite hitting his marks at a 60.3 percent clip and piling up 240.5 ypg, he has broken even with just as many passing TDs (five) as he has INTs through four games.
Speaking of top-flight ground gainers, the Aggies have one of their own in Kerwynn Williams who ran for a career-high 205 yards and two touchdowns on 21 rushing attempts in the victory over Colorado State. Williams, who was named the WAC Offensive Player of the Week, also added three receptions for another 22 yards in the triumph.
Despite tossing a couple of interceptions, Chuckie Keeton also played well against the Rams as he converted 23-of-30 passes for 178 yards and a score, adding another 38 yards on the ground as the Aggies rolled to 262 yards and three total scores on 41 rushing attempts.
Keeton has taken his accuracy to another level this season, hitting his target an astonishing 70.2 percent of the time, leading to seven touchdowns and just three picks. Although he has spread the ball among a wealth of teammates, Keeton has gotten the most success out of Matt Austin who has turned his 15 receptions into 238 yards and three TDs.
But as well as the USU offense has played at times, it really is the defense that continues to set the team apart. The squad has permitted just 103.8 ypg on the ground and 171.0 ypg through the air, ranking them 21st and 18th in the nation, respectively. The Aggies are tops in the WAC and 20th in the country in points allowed (14.5 ppg) and that number could conceivably go down this weekend if the Rebels struggle during their first road trip of the season.
Off to their best start since 1978 when they opened with five straight victories, the Aggies have a distinct advantage this weekend over a UNLV team which hasn't won on the road since Oct. 24, 2009 against New Mexico, a span of 16 games.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 28, UNLV 13
09/26 10:32:48 ET