Utah State (5-4) at UNLV (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 8 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: USU 2-2, UNLV 3-2. Away Record: USU 3-2, UNLV 2-2. Neutral Record: USU 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: USU 4-1, UNLV 3-2. Series Record: Utah State leads, 13-7.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams vying for their sixth win of the season get together in Sin City this weekend, as the surprising UNLV Rebels play host to the Utah State Aggies in Mountain West Conference action.
After winning just two games in each of the last three seasons under head coach Bobby Hauck, the Rebels now find themselves on the verge of becoming bowl eligible with their next victory. UNLV, a member of the Mountain Division of the MWC, had been enjoying an unprecedented four-game win streak between late September-early October, but since then the squad has dropped two of the last three.
Last Saturday, the Rebels were taken down at home by San Jose State, 34-24.
As for the Aggies, they've been playing without star quarterback Chuckie Keeton who went down with a season-ending injury early last month, but that hasn't stopped them from posting back-to-back victories. Last weekend, USU caught a weary Hawaii team in Logan and turned in a 47-10 triumph.
Utah State has now won 15 of its last 16 conference games dating back to the 2011 season.
Last season, USU posted a 35-13 win over the Rebels in order to move to 13-7 in the all-time series.
Darell Garretson threw for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns as he led Utah State to a convincing 37-point win over Hawaii last weekend. Garretson converted 28-of-41 passes in just his second career start for the Aggies, as they inched closer to a potential postseason appearance.
Joey DeMartino had 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts, while Travis Reynolds delivered 152 yards and a score on eight catches for the hosts.
The USU defense held the Rainbow Warriors to only 319 yards of offense, but it should be noted that Hawaii was operating at a huge disadvantage after having a flight from Los Angeles to Logan delayed due to the shooting at LAX, resulting in the Warriors not arriving until early on the morning of game day.
Nevertheless, USU is still seen as one of the tougher defensive teams in the MWC, ranking 16th in the country with just 342.2 ypg allowed, leading to a mere 18.9 ppg (19th nationally).
Garretson, who set a school record for passing yards by a freshman in last week's game, may not be on par with Keeton, but you cannot deny the youngster's strong play in the pocket where he has completed almost 67 percent of his attempts.
Making the job a little bit easier for Garretson is DeMartino, who is averaging almost seven yards per carry and has delivered nine rushing touchdowns for a unit that is generating 203.2 ypg on the ground.
A slow start for the Rebels proved to be costly last weekend as they fell to visiting San Jose State at Sam Boyd Stadium by double digits. UNLV had just three points at the half before Caleb Herring threw a pair of touchdowns and ran for another in a desperate attempt to get the team back in contention.
Herring finished the outing 26-of-49 for 265 yards, but was sacked twice and tossed a couple of interceptions that proved to be costly. The quarterback was also the leading rusher for the squad with 55 yards on 14 carries, while Tim Cornett was held to a mere 24 net yards on 12 attempts.
Cornett's performance against the Spartans was somewhat of an anomaly, considering he enters the week ranked fifth in the FBS for career rushing with 3,304 yards, and is already the program's all-time leading rusher. Averaging an even five yards per carry, Cornett has landed in the end zone 10 times on the ground this season.
While Cornett handles the action out of the backfield, a huge threat for the Rebels further down the field is Devante Davis who has turned his 60 grabs, nearly twice as many as his closest teammate, into 864 yards and 10 TDs of his own.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, as great as their season has been to this point, the chances of them becoming bowl eligible this weekend seems rather low. There will still be several opportunities for UNLV to make it to the postseason, but for now the Aggies appear to be the better team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 34, UNLV 23
11/06 10:43:01 ET