UNLV (1-4) at Louisiana Tech (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joe Aillet Stadium (30,600) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: ESPN Regional. Home Record: UNLV 1-3, LaTech 1-0. Away Record: UNLV 0-1, LaTech 3-0. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, LaTech 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 1-0, LaTech 0-0. Series Record: UNLV leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Off to their best start since 1975, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs try to keep up the positive momentum this weekend as they host the UNLV Rebels in non-conference action at Aillet Stadium in Ruston.
It was a bit of a struggle last week in Charlottesville, but the Bulldogs managed to post their fourth win in as many opportunities to kick off the 2012 campaign, registering a 44-38 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers. The win, coupled with a triumph over Illinois earlier on, marks the first time since 1997 that the Bulldogs have defeated a pair of BCS programs in the same season.
Despite having lost to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl following the 2011 campaign, the Bulldogs have now put together a run of 11 straight wins in the regular season.
As for the Rebels, a team which has one of the longest road losing skids in the country at 17 in a row, they managed to snap what had been an eight-game slide back on Sept. 22 with a 38-35 decision over Air Force in the Mountain West Conference opener. However, last week the team headed right back to the loss column with a 35-13 setback versus Utah State in their first trip away from Las Vegas in 2012.
UNLV holds a 2-0 edge in the all-time series against the Bulldogs, thanks to a 24-20 win back in 1994.
The Rebels more than had their hands full during their first game outside of the Silver State over the weekend, allowing the USU passing attack to generate more than 400 yards, the Aggies coming up with 564 yards of total offense overall. Even by UNLV standards that effort on defense was rather weak, seeing as how the program is giving up 446.6 ypg after five outings this year.
On the offensive side, Nick Sherry converted 18-of-39 passes for 188 yards and a score, but he was picked off once and sacked three times. On a positive note, even though Sherry was under pressure he still did not lose the ball on a fumble, making UNLV just one of five teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision able to make that claim heading into Week 6 action.
Running back Tim Cornett had registered three 100-yard rushing games through the first four contests this season, but his mere 36 yards on 17 attempts fell far below his average and his own expectations. Cornett is still the sixth- leading rusher in the MWC with 101.4 ypg, but it is obvious that if an opponent plans accordingly, they can certainly slow him down.
Sherry has now thrown at least one TD pass in all but one of his five appearances this year, coming up with a total of six scores overall, but that number also matches his interception total which isn't a good sign.
Even though it took the Bulldogs offense to get into gear against Virginia, what LaTech showed was they scoring points is coming naturally to the program in 2012 and the squad is getting contributions from several different sources and not just quarterback Colby Cameron.
Cameron completed a modest 24-of-37 for 227 yards and one touchdown, adding a rushing score to his stat line as well, but it was Ray Holley who grabbed some of the spotlight with 69 rushing yards and two TDs on 14 attempts, while kicker Matt Nelson knocked through all three of his field goal attempts. By converting all five of his PATs Nelson, who was named the Western Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, totaled 14 points which were the second most by a kicker in the WAC this season and most against an FBS team.
Sparking the Louisiana Tech defenses was Chip Hester who returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to cap a huge scoring run by the Bulldogs that put them ahead by double digits. Hester also finished with a team-best 14 tackles.
UNLV, which is tied for 55th in the nation in turnover margin may not have lost a fumble yet, but the Bulldogs are still far ahead of the Rebels in the turnover department overall where they rank third in the country with a plus-2.25 turnovers per game. Much of that is a credit to Cameron who has refrained from throwing a single INT on 134 attempts, yet has notched a total of 12 TD passes during the run.
Unfortunately for Cameron and the Bulldogs is not only does the schedule get a bit tougher moving forward, the team is also having to make that journey without starting running back Tevin King (369 yards, five TDs) who suffering a season-ending knee injury recently. However, that change also opens the door for guys like Holley and Kenneth Dixon to show off a bit more and that could spell danger for the Rebels this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 45, UNLV 21
10/03 10:39:04 ET