New Mexico (4-5) at UNLV (1-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 4 pm (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: UNM 2-2, UNLV 1-4. Away Record: UNM 2-3, UNLV 0-4. Neutral Record: UNM 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: UNM 1-3, UNLV 1-3. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 10-9.
GAME NOTES: Losers of five in a row and all but one of their games this season, the UNLV Rebels try to put together a solid effort this weekend as they host the New Mexico Lobos in Mountain West Conference action at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Aside from a narrow 38-35 triumph over Air Force now more than a month ago, the Rebels have had little to cheer about in 2012 with eight defeats in nine opportunities. Last weekend UNLV visited San Diego State and bowed to the Aztecs in a 24-13 final at Qualcomm Stadium. The defeat dropped the squad to 0-4 on the road this season and 1-3 in league play.
As for the Lobos, they've already exceeded their entire win total from the last three seasons combined when they went a mere 1-11 in 2009, 2010 and 2011. However, New Mexico has fallen back into bad habits in recent weeks with back- to-back defeats against the likes of Air Force and Fresno State, the latter being a 49-32 setback after the team opened with a 21-0 advantage at home on Saturday.
New Mexico, which is now also 1-3 in conference play, clings to a narrow 10-9 edge in the all-time series, thanks to a 21-14 win in the most recent matchup a season ago.
One of the top runners in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Kasey Carrier posted touchdowns of eight and 30 yards in the first 17 minutes of the meeting with Fresno State, but even that effort wasn't enough to keep the Lobos from suffering a hard-luck loss at home in Albuquerque. Now second in the nation with 138.0 ypg, Carrier finished with a game-high 136 yards on 19 carries, reaching at least 100 yards for the fourth straight game and eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the season overall.
Quarterbacks B.R. Holbrook and Quinton McCown combined to hit just 4-of-15 passes for 45 yards and a score, while the rushing attack accounted for 349 yards on 51 attempts.
Clearly the Lobos don't put much effort into crafting a passing attack, which is why the squad ranks last in the FBS with a feeble 54.7 ypg. Obviously there has to be one team bringing up the rear in every stat, but New Mexico seems to be taking this to the extreme as it is one of only two teams with less than 108.0 ypg passing, the other being Army (63.3 ypg) which has been predominantly a running team just like the other service academies.
Producing 302.7 ypg on the ground it good enough for second in the country and it seems to be working for the Lobos for the time being, at least when compared to the last three years.
Out on the road for four of their last five games, the Rebels have to be looking forward to returning home even though they have just a single win there in 2012. Last weekend the team came up with just 13 points in an 11- point loss to San Diego State, even as the team opened with a 64-yard TD run by Tim Cornett less than five minutes into the first quarter. Unfortunately, a failed PAT should have been a sign to the Rebels that not all would go right on the day.
Even with the huge run, Cornett still finished with just 127 net yards which means he gained only 63 yards on his own 18 attempts. Quarterback Nick Sherry converted 17-of-29 passes for 159 yards and a score, but he was also sacked four times. The visitors converted just 2-of-11 on third down and ran 59 offensive plays, compared to 80 for the Aztecs.
With so many starting quarterbacks twisting through the revolving doors at UNLV over the last decade it is hard for the program to gain any real consistency at the position. In a sense, one can't blame Sherry for having completed only 55.2 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but unfortunately he's probably the one who will catch much of the blame.
Cornett (935 yards, six TDs) and Bradley Randle (423 yards, six TDs) have done what they can to keep the offense moving, but a more pressing matter for the Rebels is getting the defense to play harder. At the moment the group is allowing 213.3 ypg on the ground (103rd nationally) and 34.2 ppg (102nd) and that's no way to put together a successful program.
At some point the Rebels have got to get on track and one would assume that playing at home would give them an edge, but considering the run defense is shaky at best and the Lobos are one of the best rushing teams in the country, the odds still fall with UNM.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 27, UNLV 20
10/31 10:38:20 ET