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Rebel yell: Boise State vs UNLV game preview

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Game facts

  • Time: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MT
  • Location: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
  • Weather: 73 degrees, Clear
  • Odds: Boise State by 20
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Clay "Pigeon" Matvick and John "Who?" Congemi

Other facts

1. Tony, Tony, Tony

First-year head coach Tony Sanchez has his work cut out for him at UNLV after a pretty cushy gig as the coach of national HS power Bishop Gorman. Sanchez was 85-5 in his six years at Bishop Gorman, but has already matched that loss total in just 7 games with the Rebels. Some of this is to be expected taking over a flailing program and time will tell how the Sanchez experiment goes. It's clear that Sanchez is a good coach, but high school and college football are vastly different games. It will be interesting to see how his style and philosophy translate...but Rebel fans should give him a mulligan this season. After beating Nevada for the Fremont Cannon in his first year, I'm sure they'll give him that and more.

2. Potent or latent?

The Rebels put up a Baylor-esque 80 points on Idaho State, but outside of that pointsplosion they're only averaging 19.6 points per contest. When the Broncos aren't turning the ball over, points against them are tough to come by so it will be interesting to see if UNLV can find that scoring rhythm once again. They won't get to 80...or likely even a quarter of that, but if the Bronco offense stalls, they can definitely score enough to win.

3. Decker on deck

After nursing an injury the last two games, UNLV's starting QB—Blake Decker—will be back in the lineup, but you've got to wonder if he's the Rebels best option anyway. A one-time BYU walk-on (who was cut), Decker had 2,800 yards and 15 TDs (as well as 18 INTs) a year ago...but this year has had just one game where he's passed for over 100 yards—the Rebels opener against Northern Illinois. Decker likely remains the Rebels "guy" because of his experience level, but if he's not 100% on Saturday, Sanchez won't hesitate to give him the hook for sophomore Kurt Palandech. The Broncos won't be facing a polished passer on Saturday, but both QBs can run and extend plays and do damage in "scramble drill" situations. /shudder



Boise State - Won 1 :)

UNLV - Lost 2



Best name on their roster

Sophomore LB Roscoe Kalilikane. That's Roscoe P. Kalilikane, I assume.

Best player picture on their roster

Senior D-lineman Suli Fakauho who has ALL the hair.

Players to watch

Blake Decker

The senior signal-caller is probably the best QB on the Rebel roster, and leads the team in passing yardage with 652. Decker is also the team's sixth leading rusher and while not a "true" run threat, knows how to scramble and extend plays. Sophomore QB Kurt Palandech can also run (the teams THIRD leading rusher) and filled in capably for Decker in his two-game absence and has played in every game this expect to see a bit of a two-pronged QB attack from the Rebels. Could there be a third prong...enough to roll with the dreaded "pitchfork offense"? I'm dying to know.

Devonte Boyd

The sophomore wide receiver is easily one of the best, if not THE best player on the Rebel roster and he has the hardware to prove it. Last season, the 6'1" receiver was named the MWC Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American after racking up 980 receiving yards and 4 TDs for the otherwise tepid Rebel offense. This year, Boyd is off to a bit slower start—mainly because of the uncertainty at QB...but make no mistake, this kid can ball and the Bronco DBs will need to stick to him like glue.

Keith Whitely

The junior running back is currently the team's leading rusher with 471 yards from scrimmage, and while he hasn't had a true breakout game this season...he's been a relatively consistent mover of chains.

Xzavier Campbell

The Rebels secondary back might be more exciting than their primary least potential-wise. Campbell, just a frosh, is already second on the team in rushing yardage with 302 yards, and he's gotten there much quicker too. Campbell has close to half as many touches as Whitely, but his YPC average is a almost a full yard better and if you extrapolate, he's the more effective of the two. Campbell also has one more rushing TD than Whitely and his stockier frame makes him the ideal goal line option for the Rebels.

Peni Vea

The senior DB was honorable mention All-MWC a year ago and is a leader on the Rebel defense this season as well. He's already notched 47 tackles this season, as well as an INT and 4 PBUs. Vea's leadership is a huge asset.

Nicolai Bornand

Kickers don't usually land on this list, but I'll give credit where it's due. Bornand has been a solid offensive weapon for the Rebels this season and can make his FG attempts if they get within range. On the year, Bornand is 8 of 10 on field goals, with a long of 51; his only misses were from 40+, so if they get in the 20-39 yard range he's been automatic. Bornand is also 24 of 25 on PATs on the year, but the Broncos can stop him from attempting ANY of those if they're on their game defensively.

Players NOT to watch

2014 All-MWC second team O-lineman Brett Boyko has graduated and is currently with the Philadelphia Eagles and 2014 All-MWC honorable mention wideout Devante Davis has also earned his diploma. Oh...the Broncos also just missed facing QB Randall Cunningham, who could throw, run, AND punt. TRIFECTA!

Keys to victory

  • Do NOT turn the ball over. Worked well last week...although the ground decided to jump up at strip David Lucero at the goalline. UNLV no slouch in the takeaway category, by the way, with 10 INTs on the year. Protect the ball, protect the victory.
  • Run the ball. Jeremy McNichols return last week was the spark the Bronco run game needed, but another O-line injury—this time to stalwart Rees Odhiambo—is going to sting a bit. If the Broncos can establish the run game even with Odhiambo, and possibly Mario Yakoo's absence, it will take a lot of pressure off Brett Rypien and the receiving corps.
  • Stay disciplined. UNLV is no offensive juggernaut, but they do have a competent ground game (with two mobile QBs, no less) and an elite receiver. The Bronco defenders need to trust their coaching and play their assignments and they'll be okay.
  • Score more points. We tried this against Wyoming and they never knew what hit them.

Score prediction

Boise State 42, Rebels 17