The UNLV Rebels, fresh off getting upset by an FCS team, will try to bounce back against a team from a BCS conference when they host the Cougars of Washington State Friday night (9 pm ET, ESPN).
Earlier this week, college football betting shops opened this game with Washington State favored by 11.5 points, with the total set at 55.5. Since then, though, as speculation about the status of Washington State senior QB Jeff Tuel spreads, the Cougars have been bet down to -8.5, according to the NCAA lines at OddsShark.com.
"If the Cougars can shake off that lame Eastern Washington effort last week, this is a pot where they could win easily," said Jack Randall, a football handicapping analyst at OddsShark.com. "The matchup report gives most of the edges to WSU."
Wazzu, with seven starters back on both sides of the ball for its first season under new head coach Mike Leach, opened this season with a 30-6 loss at BYU.
Then last Saturday the Cougars picked up a 24-20 victory over FCS Eastern Washington. But while they won that game, the Cougs might have taken a hit with an apparent knee injury suffered by Tuel.
Not a lot is known about his situation, but as of Thursday afternoon, Tuel was listed as doubtful for Friday night's game. If he can't go Wazzu would probably start sophomore Connor Halliday, who threw 100 passes late last year, and fairly effectively, before suffering an injury to his liver. Ouch.
On the other side of this matchup, UNLV, with 12 starters back after going 2-10 last year, is off to a tough 0-2 start to this season. The Rebels opened with a 30-27 triple-overtime loss to Minnesota, then fell last Saturday to FCS Northern Arizona 17-14 on a field goal with 10 seconds left.
On the bright side, UNLV ran for 159 yards vs. the Gophers and 189 vs. the 'Jacks. On the other end of the stick, they allowed Minnesota to run for 209 yards, blew a 14-0 lead vs. NAU and have seen freshman QB Nick Sherry struggle to complete 50 percent of his passes.
These teams just met last year, with Washington State romping to a 59-7 victory in Pullman. The Cougars outgained the Rebels that day 612-158, as UNLV's only score came on a kickoff return.
Free Pick: Even if Tuel can't play, Halliday showed a little something in his limited playing time last year. Meanwhile, the Rebels are just not very good. So we'll give the points with Wazzu. (courtesy of PickShark.com)
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