In a matchup of two programs trying desperately to find an identity, the Washington State Cougars travel to Nevada for a matchup with the UNLV Rebels.
The Cougars can say they boast a 1-1 record, though it is not exactly something they should be proud of. They got blown out by BYU on the road in Week 1 and allowed 426 yards in the 30-6 defeat.
They came back with a win last week, though it was an uninspiring four-point victory against Eastern Washington.
The Rebels have had no such luck this season, though they have kept their two games close until the end. They lost a triple-overtime affair to Minnesota in the season opener and dropped a 17-14 contest against Northern Arizona last week.
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney, Nev.
When: Friday, September 14 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Listen: KQQQ-AM 1150 (Washington State); ESPN 1100 AM (UNLV)
Betting Line: Washington State (-11.5), according to Vegas Insider
Washington State Injury Report (via USA Today)
Out: OL Rico Forbes (Knee)
UNLV Injury Report (via USA Today)
Questionable: TE Nick Gstrein (Foot)
Out: DL Sonny Sanitoa (Knee); OL Patrick Carroll (Eligibility); OL Parker Holloway (Eligibility)
What They're Saying
Washington State head coach Mike Leach secured his first win with the program last week. He wasn't exactly throwing a parade when it was over, though he did try to put some positive spins on the situation in the postgame press conference (via The Spokesman Review).
“I think on all sides of the ball we’re explosive. Now we have to be consistent. It’s not good enough to be explosive and you fall flat or you go dormant. Right now we go dormant for too long a period of time..."
Washington State Player to Watch: RB Carl Winston
It is quite clear through two games that as Winston and the Cougars' running game goes, so does the rest of the team.
In their first game of the year, Winston had just seven yards on four carries and Washington State lost 30-6. He came back last week with 67 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries as the Cougars got their first win of 2012.
The senior running back needs to find some level of consistency for this offense to succeed. They don't boast a dynamic passing attack, at least not yet. Winston has to take pressure off quarterback Jeff Tuel.
UNLV Player to Watch: QB Nick Sherry
Starting a freshman at quarterback is going to lead to a lot of growing pains, though it's not like the Rebels were expected to be serious players in the Mountain West Conference, so they might as well see what they have.
Thus far, Sherry has had middling results. He threw for 116 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in the season opener. He did show some improvement last week, going for 239 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
UNLV is built to be a running team, which makes it difficult to come from behind. Sherry has to at least make the Cougars respect his ability to drop back and pass if the Rebels are going to hang in this game.
These are two programs in serious rebuild mode. Washington State is headed in the right direction with Mike Leach taking over as head coach.
Third-year coach Bobby Hauck has not done anything to turn the Rebels around. They have won two games in each of his first two seasons, so it is imperative that they start getting results at some point this year.
Washington State might not be at the top of the Pac-12 anymore, but the Cougars will at least be able to show off their sizable talent advantage in this battle.
Cougars 34, Rebels 17