UNLV (2-10) at Hawaii (1-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 24, 11 pm (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aloha Stadium (50,000) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: Time Warner Cable. Home Record: UNLV 2-5, Hawaii 1-3. Away Record: UNLV 0-5, Hawaii 0-6. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 2-5, Hawaii 0-7. Series Record: Hawaii leads, 13-8.
GAME NOTES: Two of the more disappointing teams in the Mountain West Conference get together on Saturday, as the Hawaii Warriors welcome the UNLV Rebels to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Under the direction of new head coach Norm Chow, the Warriors began play in the MWC this year and enjoyed very little success. In fact, the lone win for the Warriors came at home the second week of the season, a 54-2 triumph versus Lamar, which means the team still hasn't defeated another FBS program since taking down Tulane in late November of last year. The most recent league triumph for Hawaii was a 16-14 decision against Idaho on Oct. 29, 2011 when the team was still a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
It goes without saying that, with their 21-7 loss to Air Force last Friday night, the Warriors are now winless in conference (0-6) and are owners of an eight-game losing streak, which is tied for the fourth-longest in the nation this week.
While Hawaii still has one more game left on the schedule in early December against South Alabama, this is the 2012 swan song for the Rebels who, if they fail to win here will have matched their win total from each of the past two seasons. UNLV has come out on the winning side only twice this year, against Air Force and New Mexico, so at least the triumphs came in conference play.
Last weekend, the team fought hard against Wyoming at home, but was dealt a 28-23 setback, the second straight loss and the seventh in eight tries for UNLV.
Hawaii leads the all-time series between these two squads, 13-8, although it was UNLV that posted a convincing 40-20 victory in Las Vegas last season.
After suffering an injury against Colorado State a week earlier, Nick Sherry sat as Caleb Herring started at quarterback for the Rebels and the change nearly paid off. Herring completed 22-of-36 for a career-high 268 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't quite enough as the UNLV defense allowed Wyoming to produce more than 400 passing yards and 500 yards of offense overall.
Sherry, who is still a possibility for this game, has been decent for the Rebels this year, hitting his attempts at a 54.6 percent clip, but his 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions are too close when it comes to risk-versus- reward. However, giving the offense some serious punch this year has been Tim Cornett with his 1,200 rushing yards and seven TDs, his scoring total one less than that of Bradley Randle who has accounted for another 617 yards on the ground.
Just like UNLV, the Warriors also went with a backup quarterback against Air Force last week, as Jeremy Higgins began taking the snaps for the hosts. Higgins, actually put the Warriors on top with a 26-yard TD pass to Clark Evans in the first quarter, but after that the Hawaii offense disappeared. Higgins finished the meeting 14-of-23 for 125 yards and was sacked three times. Sean Schroeder even made an appearance, but he missed on all five of his pass attempts and was sacked once as well.
Also causing the Hawaii offense to sputter a bit was the fact that Will Gregory, the leading running back for the team with 62.3 ypg, was suspended for the outing. This is a program that has always had trouble producing on the group, now averaging 93.5 ypg (114th nationally), but at least they always had an aggressive passing attack with qualified personnel.
It seems that now the Warriors don't have much to lean on from an offensive standpoint because they are averaging just 188.4 ypg through the air and a minuscule 281-9 ypg overall which is second-worst in the FBS. Put it together and this is a group scoring a mere 18.3 ppg, 10th in the conference and 113th in the country.
If the defense had any influence maybe games wouldn't be such blowouts for the Warriors, but the fact is this group is allowing opponents to walk (run, pass) all over them and it isn't pretty. Only twice this season has Hawaii allowed fewer than 35 points (Lamar and Air Force), which has led to the group giving up an unsightly 41.1 ppg overall.
UNLV may not be a scoring powerhouse, but against a defense like the Warriors you can't be so sure. As long as the defense can keep the Hawaii offense guessing, this is a game for the Rebels to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 28, Hawaii 17
11/21 11:09:16 ET