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Loose slots: Broncos pass all over the Rebels and cruise to dominant win in Vegas

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Boise State v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

FINAL

Boise State 38, UNLV 13

First Half

After a very quick 3 and out to by the Rebels to start the game, the Broncos marched RIGHT down the field behind two sweeps (to different sides) from John Hightower and a short TD pass to Garrett Collingham. Believe it or not, it was the first time all year that the Broncos scored the first TD of the game. Funnily enough, the first offensive play from the Broncos was a negative one as an edge rusher got Mahone in the backfield, but then the Broncos just would not be denied and did whatever they wanted on the first drive. With the O-line back to full strength, is a RUTS situation about to begin?

Could be. UNLV again couldn’t pick up a first down on their second drive (outside of a freebie due to a Jalen Walker late hit) and the Broncos were back in business. Second drive...notsomuch. “Crackback” block penalty made the down and distance tough for the Broncos and Akilian Butler failed to haul in a pretty ball from Bachmeier. If this is to be a rout, it’s off to a slow start. The good news for the Broncos though? Broncos defense absolutely smothered the Rebels in the first half. UNLV had just ONE ill-gotten first down in their first three possessions—the Broncos already had 6 in just two drives. Third drive...again, Broncos MOVING but can’t convert on 4th and short. Seems like this MIGHT be the story of the season so far. Points > Yards, guys.

Yadda yadda, another 3 and out for the Rebels and BOOM Bachmeier to Hightower for a 76-yard TD. A thing of beauty. 14-0 Broncos.

Copy > Paste UNLV 3 and out. Broncos move the ball but a Mahone fumble on 3rd down gives the Rebels some new life. UNLV hates life. No need to bore you with the details of the rest of the first half. The Broncos did just enough to make UNLV think they have a chance in this one and a Joel Velazquez 52-yarder at the buzzer means the Broncos had a 17-0 lead heading into the locker room. Not sure why points are at a premium for the Broncos this year, but hey...look at these halftime stats.

246 yards and 2 TDs for Bachmeier at the half on 72% completions.

156 all-purpose yards for John Hightower.

UNLV QB Kenyon Oblad struggling to complete 30% of his passes.

This SHOULD be much uglier for the Rebels, but maybe the Broncos are just being benevolent?

Second Half

Both teams sort of limped out of the gate in the second half. Of course, John Hightower HOUSED the opening kickoff of the second half, but as we’ve seen soooo many times before—it was negated by a holding penalty. UNLV showed a teensy amount of spark on their first offensive drive, but the Broncos quickly squashed that behind sacks from Sonatane Lui AND Kekaula Kaniho. On the next Bronco drive: paydirt. After TWO pass-interference calls on Hightower (that’s the guy to interfere with, in fairness)...the Broncos do a nifty double handoff play to Akilian Butler, who turns the corner for a 23-yard TD run. 24-0 Broncos (and trust me, this could be much, MUCH worse).

And it did get worse...sort of. The Broncos held the Rebels TWICE on the ensuing drive, but TWICE bailed out the Rebels with dumb penalties. UNLV finally on the board after Oblad’s first decent throw of the night. 24-7 Broncos. After some weak drives for the Broncos, they finally found a spark again after a long Holani run and a 29 yard TD from Chase Cord. 31-7 Broncos.

Rebels scored in garbage time against the backups...then tried an onside kick and well, Avery Williams don’t play that...he NEARLY housed the onside kick and then Andrew Van Buren ran it in to get the gap back to 25. 38-13 Broncos. And that was all she wrote. Curtis Weaver got his third sack of the night, Nawahine got a pick (that was actually ill-advised...it was on 4th and 20) and the Broncos sort of sleepwalked through the rest of the game. Defense shut down UNLV, but somehow the UNLV defense largely did the same in the second half. Broncos were a terrible 2 for 13 on third downs. But as they say...a win is a win. And if you can win “ugly” and still win by 25, then hey...whaddya gonna do?

What we learned

Curtis Weaver is pretty good...and he’s not going to be here a whole lot longer, so enjoy him folks.

Also...the Broncos had some bye week rust and it showed. 130 penalty yards for the Broncos...which was tantalizingly close to the rushing total for the Broncos. A lost fumble. Not a confidence-inspiring win over a pedestrian opponent, but well whatever. It’s all on film, so things to learn from it.

Bachmeier finished with 299 yards and 2 TDs (and was only sacked once). Both Shakir and Hightower had over 100 receiving yards. Holani led the team with 80 rushing yards. Full stats below. Go Broncos!