Nevada vs. UNLV: Keys to a Rebel victory, how to watch, odds, predictions

The fight for the Fremont Cannon trophy takes place at Allegiant Stadium while the Nevada Wolf Pack moves into Las Vegas

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UNLV is targeting its 5th win of the season, a possible bowl berth

WEEK 13: Nevada wolf pack at UNLV rebels

WHERE: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

IF: Saturday, November 26, 2022 – 6:00 p.m. EST (3:00 p.m. PST)

TV: Silver State Sports & Entertainment Network in Nevada.

STREAM: Mountain West Network (www.themw.com/watch).

RADIO: ESPN 1100 AM & 100.9 FM

SERIAL RECORDING: This will be the 48th meeting between Nevada and UNLV. The Rebels have won 19 of their last 47 encounters, but the Wolf Pack have won the last two games by an aggregate score of 88-39.

WEB PAGES: unlvrebels.com is the official website of the University of Nevada Las Vegas Athletics | www.nevadawolfpack.com is the official website of the University of Nevada Athletics.

GAME NOTES (PDF): Nevada | UNLV

ODDS: UNLV Rebels of -12.5

PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: UNLV rebels at 2.85

The Battle for Nevada to win the Fremont Cannon trophy takes place this Saturday at Allegiant Stadium. And as the UNLV Rebels head into this regular season finale against the Nevada Wolf Pack, there’s plenty for the team to do this week and in the future.

The Rebels return home after a disappointing loss in Hawaii, losing 31-25 to the Rainbow Warriors. It was a game that head coach Marcus Arroyo described as “uncharacteristically incorporeal” for the Rebels, a game in which penalties and fights for first and second place at key points in the game kept the Rebels in a back-and-forth until it was Hawaii can pull away in the fourth quarter. The box score favored UNLV in many key categories — yards gained, possession time, turnovers — but the scoreboard wasn’t in their favor as the Rebels fell 4-7 on the season.

As disappointed as they may be, the Rebels are still playing for a possible post-season appearance. As reported by Action Network’s Brett McMurphy, some teams with 5-7 records may receive invites to bowl games this year depending on a variety of results in the weekend’s games. Based on their APR score — Academic Progress Rate, based on academic admissions standards for players who stayed in school — the Rebels top this short list of teams who could receive invites. That result puts UNLV in third place, behind only Rice and Iowa State, and a win over Nevada could put the Rebels in a favorable position for a bowl game.

Before the Rebels can celebrate a bowl seat, UNLV needs a win over the Wolf Pack this Saturday in Las Vegas, which they haven’t done since 2018. To take a closer look at how UNLV can achieve victory, here are three keys to the Rebel game plan:

Avoid thirds and longs

A point head coach Marcus Arroyo touched on in last week’s loss to Hawaii, the Rebels struggled to find consistency at first and second deficit. A difficult combination of tackles for losses, incompletions and penalties seemed to keep UNLV looking for a big game, a catalyst to open up offense and get into the end zone. As the game progressed, the Rebels took just 4 of 14 3rd down opportunities and punted a total of four times (there was also a turnover on downs after failing to convert a 4th and 5th midway through the fourth quarter). The Rebels settled for four field goals and one offensive touchdown that day, with just three trips inside the Hawaii 20-yard line, and it inevitably cost them late in the game.

Unfortunately, third-place struggles have also plagued the Rebels for much of the season, as UNLV is currently ranked 117th nationally with a conversion rate of 32.1 percent. The Rebels have to capitalize on a Wolf Pack defense this week that is giving up more than 400 yards per game this season, including 524 to Fresno State last week.

Another big defensive game?

Arguably the Rebels’ best defensive game of the year to date came in Utah State, when a 2-1 UNLV squad capitalized on five interceptions en route to a dominant 34-24 win. While the Rebels are unlikely to gather such stats in this week’s game, a similar effort on Saturday should be more than enough against a Nevada offense struggling on its own.

For much of the season and for a variety of reasons, the Wolf Pack struggled to be successful offensively. While running back Toa Taua was seen in a hoped-for strong running game, Nevada currently ranks 121st on offense at 18.5 points per game and 126th on overall offense at 290 yards per game. In particular, an aggressive front seven led by Adam Plant Jr. and Austin Ajiake should be able to put pressure on the pocket and force the Wolf Pack into more thirds and long situations. This should be the type of offense against which the Rebel defense can again thrive, forcing turnovers and leading the way to a dominant victory.

But as a precaution, the UNLV defense must remain focused. The Rebels have struggled with mobile quarterbacks throughout the season, and while the Wolf Pack have not announced a starting quarterback for this game at this point, Nate Cox has shown some mobility out of the bag. He gained 56 rushing yards in Nevada last week and currently has 242 rushing yards in the season.

Master the time of possession

As cliche as it may seem, UNLV have found success in games where they can win battles for possession and control the clock (despite last week’s loss to Hawaii, where the Rebels held the ball for almost 35 minutes). The Rebels need to avoid looking predictable, but possession advantage always depends on the game in progress, led by Aidan Robbins.

Aidan Robbins currently has 924 rushing yards on the season, and the Rebels will likely look to get him over the 1,000-yard mark to confirm the program’s success this year. Quarterback Doug Brumfield and running back Courtney Reese can also appear in the ground game against the Wolf Pack, which gives up more than 173 yards on the ground.

If the Rebels find success with the running game and even use their short passing game to bring in more players, they should be able to wear down Nevada’s defense and find the end zone without settling for field goals or keeping the Wolf Pack competitive to keep in the game.

forecast

With or without the possibility of a potential bowl appearance, the Rebels should look to end this regular season on a positive note for a number of reasons. It’s an opportunity for a 5-win season for UNLV that would be their first since 2017. For his seniors, a win over a state rival would be a fitting end to the season. Going forward, a win here would help set a record that has already surpassed many’s expectations and lead to recruitment and early momentum for next year’s campaign.

Expect a motivated UNLV roster to outperform a Nevada team that has struggled this year but ultimately falls short this Saturday. Even in a rivalry game, the Rebels’ running game should make a mark early in the game and be able to open up offense with a focus on ending their drives in the end zone and not just settling for three points instead of seven give. Defensively look for the front sevens to win the line of scrimmage and an opportunistic secondary to take chances when the Wolf Pack struggles.

UNLV 37, Nevada 19


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