The 0-5 UNLV Rebels continue their search for their first win of the season in Saturday’s run-in with the Utah State Aggies. Despite a strong opening three-game start, the Aggies came plummeting back down to Earth in consecutive losses to No. 13 BYU and Boise State. Perhaps they’ll have better luck on the road against a Rebels team coming off a 24-17 loss to UTSA.
Bonner could have a big nightLogan Bonner must be licking his chops for an opportunity to attack that struggling secondary for UNLV. The Utah State quarterback could certainly use a pick-me-up after a pair of rough run-ins with BYU and Boise State. Granted, the accuracy isn’t always there, but he has thrown for 1,235 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
Half of those interceptions came in his last two games.
UNLV’s defense isn’t even sniffing the quarterback, and their secondary is giving up more passing yards than any other team in the Mountain West Conference (302.8). Bonner should have no issues shredding their defensive backfield. Even if he struggles, Calvin Tyler Jr. should be able to clean up the rest of the yards on the ground. The junior running back is gashing teams this season and helping create a diverse offense at Utah State.
If only the defense played the same way.
Utah State is giving up an average of 462 total yards per game, which is the worst behind UNLV. That isn’t great company to keep in the defensive stat column. Things are bad enough for the Aggies right now where UNLV’s offense might finally find life.
UNLV returns from a breakLike the Aggies, the Rebels enjoyed an entire bye week to get healthier and make a push towards winning their first game of the season. They put up a fight against the unbeaten UTSA Roadrunners, but they failed to wrap a pretty bow around the performance in the end.
And now, they sit at 0-5 on the season.
Utah State allows just enough cushion on defense for the Rebels to finally find an offensive heartbeat in this game. The Aggies are only averaging 1.4 sacks per game so far this season, and they’re getting shredded both on the ground and through the air.
The quarterback situation at UNLV is about as surprising as a box of chocolates from the “Forrest Gump” movie. You never know what you’re going to get. Freshman Cameron Friel took over the reps in the team’s recent loss to UTSA. So we’ll see if he continues to lead the way on Saturday.
One thing is certain: We should see plenty of running back Charles Williams against a Utah State defensive front getting plundered for yards on the ground on a weekly basis. Teams are averaging 204 rushing yards per game against them.
Speaking of defense, the Rebels need to do whatever they can to limit the possessions for Logan Bonner and the Aggies offense. Utah State might have their defensive struggles, but they’ve been able to at least back it up with a strong offensive effort on the other side.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Both of the defenses have struggled this season, but the Aggies are the better football team with a more reliable quarterback situation with Logan Bonner under center. This could potentially be the healthiest we’ve seen Bonner this season with the team coming off a bye week. He’s had plenty of time to rest and recuperate injuries ahead of what will be a passing clinic against UNLV’s struggling defense.
Not only are the Rebels allowing the most average yards, but they’re also allowing the longest passing attempts and highest completion percentage (74.1). A bad passing defense plays right into the hands of Utah State.
The Rebels will be able to move the ball on the ground, but it’s hard to count on their passing efficiency with musical chairs being played at the quarterback position. They’ll sink in the key moments of this game when a big play needs to be made. The lack of long scrimmage plays offensively will continue to do the Rebels in.
I’m laying the points and taking Utah State.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both of these Mountain West Conference teams are riding the defensive struggle-bus heading into Saturday’s game. They are both at basement level in the bottom-three scoring defenses in the conference, which also includes Hawaii. Opposing teams are averaging 30-plus points against them this season. Logan Bonner won’t have any problems being a surgeon against a UNLV secondary allowing an astonishing 74.1 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks. Those are basically free passing yards that’ll turn into points. Give me the over in this one.