Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#311 UNLV vs.
#312 Fresno State
Friday, September 24, 2021 at 10:10pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The UNLV Rebels will head to Bulldog Stadium on Friday evening for a non-conference showdown against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

It’s been a rough start to the year for the Rebels, who dropped a heartbreaker versus Eastern Washington in the season opener before dropping back-to-back games against Top-25 opponents. Friday’s matchup will mark UNLV’s third consecutive contest versus a nationally-ranked team. Meanwhile, Fresno State snuck into the AP Top-25 rankings by starting the season 3-1 and dethroning previously undefeated No. 13-UCLA last week.

Can the Bulldogs avoid a letdown at home against a winless UNLV team under the lights on Friday night?

UNLV to face Top-25 opponent for the third straight week

UNLV struggled to get anything going en route to an ugly 48-3 loss versus No.14-ranked Iowa State last weekend. The Rebels managed just 130 yards of total offense, including just 1.2 yards per carry, en route to their third straight defeat. Freshman quarterback Cameron Friel completed 8 of 13 passes for 67 yards and an interception while Charles Williams led the team with 42 rushing yards. Fresno State converted on just seven total first downs on the day and finished 2-for-13 on third-down conversions in the loss.

On offense, UNLV has averaged a pedestrian 209.3 yards of total offense per game, which ranks 128th in the FBS. Moving the ball through the air has been a major challenge for the Rebels, who come in averaging just 100.3 passing yards per game, 126th in the nation.

The Rebels could also use some improvement on the other side of the ball as well. UNLV has given up a whopping 40 points and 476.3 yards of total offense per contest. The Rebels have also struggled to stop the run, allowing 190.3 yards per game on the ground, good for 108th in the FBS.

Haener powers Bulldogs past UCLA with gutsy performance

Fresno State knocked off No.13-ranked UCLA 40-37 behind a gutsy performance from quarterback Jake Haener, who overcame a shot to the ribs late in the game to convert on back-to-back game-winning drives. The 6-foot-1 quarterback threw for 455 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on the day. With under a minute remaining, Haener led the Bulldogs on a clutch six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to cap off the upset win. Running back Ronnie Rivers rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns while Jalen Cooper caught 14 passes for 141 yards, including the game-winning score with 14 seconds left.

Haener currently leads the nation in passing yards by a wide margin. Through four games, the senior signal-caller has amassed 1,464 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception. He’s also improved his completion percentage by nearly 10 points this season, up to a career-high 73.6 percent. Haener played through some noticeable pain during Fresno State’s game-winning drive against UCLA but should be ready to go against UNLV this weekend. He leads an offense averaging 43 points and 537.8 yards of total offense per game.

On defense, Fresno State has given up just 19.5 points and 283.5 yards of total offense per contest, including just 97.8 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 32nd in the FBS.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Fresno State should have no problems cruising to a win in this game but I’m expecting a bit of a bounce-back performance from UNLV this week. The Rebels were manhandled in last week’s loss versus Iowa State and have managed a meager 208 yards of total offense through their first three contests. With Haener a little banged up, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Fresno State take things a little easier on offense this week. Look for UNLV to show some fight this week and take the Rebels to cover the number on the road in this matchup on Friday evening. 

Prediction: UNLV +30.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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These two teams are projected for only 58.5 points but I’m not sure we’ll touch that number in this game. Haener might not get the week off this week but I’m not expecting the Bulldogs’ offense to rely on its senior quarterback too much in this game. The Fresno State signal-caller put together the performance of a lifetime in last week’s upset win versus UCLA and will likely get a chance to take it easy in a game that the Bulldogs are favored to win by more than four scores. UNLV has also had some trouble stopping the run, so expect Fresno State to lean on its ground game a little more than usual in this one. Take this game to stay under the projected total on Friday evening.

Prediction: Under 58.5
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Written By Nick Raffoul , "Nick Raffoul"

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. He has been a very successful sports bettor over the years and has now brought his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.