The UNLV Rebels (2-1, 3-0 ATS, 2-1 O/U) battle the Utah State Aggies (1-2, 0-3 ATS, 0-3 O/U) in an MWC showdown on Saturday night. The Rebels earned a dominating home win against North Texas last week. The Aggies had a bye last week after losing to Alabama in week two. Utah State posted a 28-24 win against UNLV last season.
Rebels Clobber North Texas
The UNLV Rebels head into the MWC opener with another win. They were labeled 13-point dogs in a narrow 20-13 road loss to California and rebounded nicely in a dominating 58-27 home win against North Texas last week to cover the small 2.5-point spread. The Rebels are an improved team after a disastrous 2021 season. They have covered the spread in all three games.
Doug Brumfield has been outstanding. The sophomore QB was kept in check against California of the Pac-12 but was dangerous in his other two performances and has 773 passing yards accompanied by a 7:1 TD to INT ratio. Aidan Robbins is having a breakout season. The junior RB rushed for a whopping 227 yards against North Texas last week and now has 346 yards in an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
UNLV has a talented receiving core. Ricky White has made at least four catches in all three games and has registered 317 receiving yards. The offense is quite balanced but has opted for the run slightly more than the pass.
The Rebels' defense has been effective for the most part. They struggled last week, allowing 474 total yards but were effective on third downs. The pass defense needs work, ranking 96th however the rush defense is 42nd. UNLV is scoring an average of 41.3 points, good for 25th overall. The defense is conceding an average of 22.7 points, placing them 58th in the FBS.
Utah State Stumbles into Bye Week
The Utah State Aggies are glad to have non-conference play behind them. They easily defeated a poor UConn team in week one but had no chance in a 55-0 loss to Alabama and were 6.5 point favorites in a surprising 35-7 home loss to Weber State before last week’s bye. Utah State is expected to be a strong team in the MWC but the previous defeat is a concern. They have yet to cover the spread in three games.
Logan Bonner had a dominating 2021 season but has struggled early this year. The senior QB tossed three picks against Weber State and only has 440 passing yards along with a 3:3 TD to INT ratio. It’s only a matter of time for the experienced QB to find a groove. Utah State has a dangerous RB in Calvin Tyler Jr. The senior was the Aggies' best RB last year and has collected 238 yards in three games. Brian Cobbs has been targeted more than any other receiver. The senior WR has 158 receiving yards. The Utah State offense is strong on paper but has been abysmal so far, especially the 283-yard output against Weber State.
The Aggies' defense needs improvement. They surrendered 400 yards against Weber State and even had a bit of trouble against a poor Huskies offense in the opener. They stand 51st against the pass and 128th against the run. Utah State is only averaging 12.7 points, paging them 126th. The defense is allowing an average of 36.7 points, positioning them 116th.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
I expect the Utah State Aggies to rebound in a big way in this game. UNLV is expected to be in the bottom half of the MWC while Utah State was projected to finish in the top half. The Rebels do not have a strong defense and Utah State has a proven offense. They ranked 15th in the entire FBS in passing yards last year which is relevant considering they have the same QB in Logan Bonner. This is an ideal matchup against a Rebels pass defense that ranks 96th.
Furthermore, the Aggies' defensive stats are a bit misleading considering they had to play Alabama in week two. Despite playing Alabama, they are holding foes to only 201 passing yards per game and UNLV will have trouble generating yards in the air. I also expect Utah State to have a big game on the ground. Calvin Tyler Jr. has recorded a solid 238 yards in three games and should be a 1000-yard rusher this year.
Full-Game Total Pick
I expect a barrage of points. The Rebels' offense has been productive. They collected a remarkable 58 points against North Texas last week and have received outstanding production on the ground. This is key as the Aggies' rush defense has been exploited, allowing 240 rushing yards per game.
In addition, the Aggies' offense had time to regroup in last week’s bye and have all the talent to break out. Logan Bonner eclipsed 300 passing yards in several games last year and should exploit a subpar passing defense. The Aggies will near 30 points. The over is 4-1 in the Aggies' last five conference games.