San Jose State (4-3) at UNLV (5-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 2, 4 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: Mountain West Network. Home Record: SJSU 2-1, UNLV 3-1. Away Record: SJSU 2-2, UNLV 2-2. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: SJSU 3-1, UNLV 3-1. Series Record: San Jose State leads, 11-5-1.
GAME NOTES: It has been a long time coming, but the UNLV Rebels are fast approaching bowl eligibility and will attempt to move even closer to that goal this weekend when they host the San Jose State Spartans in Mountain West Conference action at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Rebels recently put together an unprecedented four-game win streak, a significant step in the right direction considering the program has won no more than two games in any one of the first three seasons under head coach Bobby Hauck. UNLV had the run snapped in a 38-14 loss to nationally-ranked Fresno State on Nov. 19, but last weekend the squad responded in a huge way.
Against Nevada, which they had bowed to eight straight times, the Rebels managed to pull out a 27-22 victory, in Reno no less, as they brought home the prestigious Fremont Cannon.
Despite picking up their fifth win of the campaign, the Rebels are still shooting for their first winning regular season since 2000 when they produced an 7-5 mark and finished 8-5 for head coach John Robinson after posting a 31-14 triumph over Arkansas in the Las Vegas Bowl.
As for the Spartans, who have the same conference record as UNLV (3-1), they've taken a few steps back from last year when they were one of the dominant programs in the Western Athletic Conference. After putting up an 11-2 mark in 2012, SJSU has already had to deal with a three-game slide this year, but at least the group has responded with a three-game win streak to again move above .500.
Last Saturday, the Spartans produced a season-high 51 points in a seven-point victory over visiting Wyoming.
Now members of the same conference, this is the first meeting between the two squads since 1997 when SJSU posted a 55-48 win and moved to 11-5-1 in the all- time series.
David Fales erupted for a career-high 482 passing yards and a total of six touchdowns, including the game-winner with eight seconds remaining, as the Spartans came back to top Wyoming last time out. Fales converted 27-of-37 passes, leading to five touchdowns for SJSU as the team captured its third straight win. The quarterback, who was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, also logged a rushing touchdown in the meeting, even though he was credited with negative eight rushing yards on seven carries. San Jose State, which generated 642 yards of total offense, survived despite converting just 5-of-14 third downs.
Defensively, SJSU was less than stellar as it surrendered a whopping 599 yards to the Cowboys, an average of almost eight yards per snap. One of three players to come away with double-digit tackles for the Spartans, Isaiah Irving registered two stops behind the line of scrimmage and the only sack of the game for the hosts.
Getting to the quarterback has not been a strong suit for the Spartans here in 2013, with the team coming up with just 10 sacks. Eugene Taylor leads in that department with four sacks on only 23 total stops, so there is certainly room for others to contribute. Still, the most recognizable Spartans on defense has to be Keith Smith who not only has a team-best six TFL, but he is also one of the nation's leaders in total tackles with 101.
With Fales at the helm of the offense, SJSU ranks ninth in the country in passing with close to 350 ypg and yet the squad is still only 75th in scoring with 27.9 ppg. A favorite target for Fales, Chandler Jones has 40 receptions for 805 yards and nine touchdowns, easily the top numbers across the board for SJSU right now.
Caleb Herring threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns as he guided the Rebels to the thrilling five-point win over the Wolf Pack in hostile territory last weekend. Herring converted 29-of-42 passes, with eight of those completions going to Devante Davis who turned them into 121 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Tim Cornett, who is listed as questionable for this game due to injury, contributed a game-high 122 yards and a score on 26 carries.
The Rebels surrendered what seemed to be a significant 487 yards to Nevada, but considering the visitors held the Pack to a mere 2-of-15 on third down and 1-of-3 on fourth-down attempts, all of those yards didn't hurt as much as they could have. Although he had just five tackles, Frank Crawford still made a name for himself as he recovered a fumble and came up with an interception.
The good news for the Rebels, at least when it comes to battling San Jose State, is that they have a solid pass defense that is giving up just 223.4 ypg. It would be a different story if the Spartans could move the ball significantly on the ground, because UNLV is giving up 236.3 ypg to rank 117th in the country, but that should not be much of a factor this weekend.
While it often goes unnoticed, it should be pointed out that UNLV has turned into a very disciplined squad, ranking second in the nation with a mere 3.25 penalties per contest, surrendering only 31.75 ypg as a result.
Given the enormity of last week's win on the road, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Rebels have a let down here. Herring, who has 13 TD passes against just a single pick on the season, will have to manage another strong game in order for the hosts to have a chance to pull out the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 31, UNLV 28
10/30 10:34:01 ET