UNLV Rebels vs. Boise State Broncos: Complete Game Preview
UNLV (1-6, 1-1 MWC) will bring its football team north to Boise, ID in week eight of the college football season. The Rebels will be looking to upset Boise State (5-1, 2-0 MWC) on their home turf.
That won't be easy considering the Broncos have only lost three games on "The Blue" since 1999, not to mention this week is homecoming in Bronco Stadium.
Head coach Chris Petersen will be looking for his young Boise State team to make strides this week in some key areas. The Broncos are still struggling in the passing game, short distance gains and third down conversions.
If ever there was a perfect team to work those kind of offensive issues out, it would have to be the Rebels.
UNLV is currently ranked 109th in points against the defense. The Rebels have allowed 36 points on average per game this season.
The Broncos, on the other hand, are only scoring 25.2 points per contest, and are currently ranked 82nd in per game scoring.
Something has to give.
Will UNLV improve its defensive statistics? Will Boise State finally have a complete game on offense? Let's take a closer look at this game and its possibilities.
Game Day Information
Game: UNLV at Boise State (Homecoming)
When: Saturday, October 20
Time: Kickoff 1:37 (MST)
Where: Boise, Idaho
Stadium: Bronco Stadium
Television: NBC Sports Network
Radio: Bronco Radio Network, KBOI 670 AM Boise
Live Stats: BroncoSports.com
Twitter Updates: @BroncoSportsFB
Depth Chart for Boise State
Boise State Offense
QB: Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick
RB: D.J. Harper, Jay Ajayi
FB: Dan Paul, Connor Peters
TE: Chandler Koch, Holden Huff
WX: Matt Miller, Aaron Burks
WZ: Chris Potter, Dallas Burroughs
HR: Kirby Moore, Geraldo Boldewijn
RT: Brenel Myers, Rees Odhiambo
RG: Spencer Gerke, Michael Ames
OC: Matt Paradis, Spencer Gerke
LG: Joe Kellogg, Marcus Henry
LT: Charles Leno Jr., Faraji Wright
DE: Demarcus Lawrence, Tyler Horn
NT: Mike Atkinson, Greg Grimes
DT: Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Darren Koontz
DE: Sam Ukwuachu, Beau Martin
LB: J.C. Percy, Tyler Gray
LB: Tommy Smith, Blake Renaud
NB: Dextrell Simmons, Corey Bell
CB: Jamar Taylor, Ebo Makinde
CB: Jerrell Gavins, Bryan Douglas
S: Jeremy Ioane, Hazen Moss
S: Lee Hightower, Darian Thompson
P: Trevor Harman, Dan Goodale
K: Michael Frisina, Dan Goodale
KO: Trevor Harman, Dan Goodale
KR: D.J. Harper, Dallas Burroughs
PR: Chris Potter
LS: Chris Roberson, Kevin Keane
Depth Chart for UNLV
LT: Brett Boyko, Andrew Oberg
LG: Cameron Jefferson, Ron Scroggins
OC: Robert Waterman, Brian Roth
RG: Doug Zismann, Brad Overand
RT: Yusef Rodgers, Cameron Jefferson
TE: Jake Phillips, Tyler Bergsten
WR: Marcus Sullivan, Anthony Williams
WR: Devante Davis, Caleb Herring
QB: Nick Sherry, Caleb Herring
RB: Tim Cornett, Bradley Randle
FB: William Vea, Max Johnson
DE: Sonny Sanitoa, James Boyd
DT: Alex Klorman, Trent Allmang-Wilder
DT: Mark Garrick, Tyler Gaston
DE: Parker Holloway, Jordan Sparkman
WLB: John Lotulelei, Eric Tuiloma
MLB: Tani Maka, Max Ehlert
SLB: Tim Hasson, Princeton Jackson
CB: Fred Wilson, Kenneth Penny
SS: Kenny Brown, Kenny Keys
FS: Peni Vea, David Greene
CB: Sidney Hodge, Tajih Hasson
PK: Nolan Kohorst, Chase Lansford
KO: Chase Lansford
P: Chase Lansford
KR: Marcus Sullivan, Eric Johnson
PR: Eric Johnson, Marcus Sullivan
UNLV Last Week
UNLV (1-6, 1-1 MWC) went into halftime riding a 17-point lead over instate rival Nevada last week. The Wolf Pack must have been wondering how that could have happened.
Nevada (6-1, 3-0 MWC) found itself behind 14-0 by the end of the first quarter to a UNLV team that had only won a single game all season. That lead turned into 21-0 early in the second quarter before the Wolf Pack got on the scoreboard with a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Stefphon Jefferson.
The game was 31-21 in favor of the Rebels going into the fourth quarter. Nevada scored quickly to bring the game within three points at 31-28. The Wolf Pack would then go on to score 14 unanswered points before the Rebels scored another touchdown—it would be their last.
That brought the game to its 42-37 final in favor of the Wolf Pack.
It was a contest that wasn't supposed to be close, but as most college football fans know, anything can happen in rivalry games.
On the day, UNLV had 436 yards of total offense compared to the Wolf Pack's 496. Every other statistical category was comparable, and overall it was a great game. However, the Wolf Pack may not think so.
It was a heartbreaking loss for a UNLV team that has played several teams close this season.
Boise State Last Week
Boise State held its fourth straight opponent to a scoreless first half when it took on Fresno State at home last week.
The Broncos were up 17-0 at halftime but only managed a field goal in the second half. Still, it proved more than enough after the performance the defense managed at home on "The Blue."
The final score was 20-10 in favor of Boise State.
The Broncos struggled in the passing game against the Bulldogs. Quarterback Joe Southwick went 11/22 for 113 yards, a single touchdown and an interception. Southwick looked to be struggling with control, and it appeared some of his receivers weren't always on the same page.
The Broncos' rushing attack looked very good, however. D.J. Harper gained 122 yards on 21 carries, and his backup Jay Ajayi ran 15 times for 91 yards. Harper also had an amazing 28-yard run for a touchdown in the first half.
It was the incredible defense and dynamic running game that allowed Boise State to dominate the game against Fresno State from start to finish.
What This Game Means to Both Teams
The football team from UNLV almost did it. They almost upset their biggest rivalry last week. However, as mentioned, they fell just short.
A win for the Rebels on the home field of Boise State this week would be an even bigger deal for the team from Las Vegas. It is a safe bet to say it would be one of the biggest wins in school history for them.
Odds are, however, that Boise State takes care of business in week eight.
The Broncos are looking to add another Mountain West Conference win to their total. It is no secret that coach Chris Petersen and his bunch want to finish their final year in the diminished conference as champions. A win in this game would be the next step in that coveted goal.
It is also homecoming for the Broncos, and no team wants to falter on homecoming. Boise State will also be wearing all black uniforms for this game, and it is probably safe to say that they want to make the most of the cool threads.
Key Player for UNLV
Tim Cornett is a very good running back. If the Rebels want to make this a game, they will have to run the ball, and Cornett will be the key to that.
Cornett has only been held under 100 rushing yards twice this season. The first time was against Washington State when he carried the ball 20 times for 89 yards and 1 touchdown. In that same game he caught 2 passes for 15 additional yards.
The second game under the century mark for Cornett was versus Utah State in week five when he carried the ball 17 times for only 36 yards.
It was by far his worst game of the season, but he rebounded nicely the following week against Louisiana Tech when he once again eclipsed the 100-yard mark rushing 23 times for 111 yards.
On the season, Cornett has rushed for an impressive total of 747 yards on 147 carries, which is a 5.1 yards-per-carry average.
He is a shifty running back with some speed and is quite capable of breaking tackles—especially arm tackles. Just ask the Wolf Pack. Last week against Nevada Cornett had a touchdown and 129 yards rushing on 20 carries. He was instrumental in the near upset of the Rebels' instate rival.
For the season, the UNLV running back is averaging 21 carries and 106.7 rushing yards per game. He will need to have that kind of day if he wants to help his football team set a pace that can challenge the Broncos.
In every game of the season, except Utah State, Cornett has broken long runs that range from 20 to 76 yards. Boise State will need to stop the UNLV running attack if they want to control this contest. To do that, the Broncos must stop Tim Cornett.
Key Player for Boise State
Running back D.J. Harper is proving that he is a big key to the Boise State offense. When D.J. has a good day, the Broncos have a great one.
On the season, Harper has 549 yards rushing on 115 carries and 140 yards receiving with 19 catches.
Harper was instrumental in last week's win over Fresno State. He was able to lead the way with 122 yards rushing and an electrifying touchdown run in the first half of the game that set the tone.
Look for Harper to once again have a good day against UNLV. If D.J. is able to run wild against the Rebels, it will help quarterback Joe Southwick manage the game and get some positive things done.
Look for the entire Bronco offense to click this week, but the reason should be because D.J. Harper got it all going.
UNLV Will Win If...
UNLV will win this game if it can play like it did against Nevada last week in the first quarter and force Boise State to turn the ball over.
Last week the Rebels led the Wolf Pack 14-0 after the first quarter and held Nevada to just two possessions and two first downs.
If UNLV can play like that all game against the Broncos, they have a chance. Of course, they will also need to force multiple turnovers to disrupt the Boise State offense and keep the scoreboard low.
The Broncos offense has sputtered at times this season, so if the Rebels are able to take away scoring opportunities by forcing turnovers, it could put a lot of pressure on Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick and the rest of the offense.
Last season, UNLV surprised the Broncos with some early game toughness. However, the talented Boise State team led by Kellen Moore ended up handling the Rebels in Las Vegas.
This season, the Rebels will need to come out with the same kind of early game attitude. However, unlike last season, they will need to keep that high level of play going all game long if they expect to compete against Boise State in Bronco Stadium.
Boise State Will Win If...
Boise State will win this game if it doesn't overlook the Rebels.
However, with Chris Petersen at the helm, it is highly unlikely that the Broncos will look past UNLV.
If Boise State starts strong in the running game and plays like the Broncos do on defense, the Rebels of UNLV will be very disappointed in their own performance.
The game will come down to execution and consistency. If Boise State can execute its offense and get into a rhythm, this could be the best game of the season for quarterback Joe Southwick and the rest of the Broncos.
Boise State should be able to control this game. It is homecoming for the Broncos, and the team should be pumped, the crowd should be loud, the defense should be dominating and the offense should be clicking.
UNLV will have a hard time slowing down D.J. Harper and his backup Jay Ajayi. The running game for the Broncos should open up the passing game, and quarterback Joe Southwick should have his best game of the season.
Look for Boise State to have season-high totals in many areas against the Rebels, and that includes total points scored.
Boise State will be wearing black and blue uniforms for the first time in school history, but it will be the Rebels who will be wearing those colors after the game.
Prediction: Boise State 42, UNLV 13