FACTS & STATS: Site: Qualcomm Stadium (71,400) — San Diego, California.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNLV 1-1, SDSU 1-0. Away Record: UNLV 0-2,
SDSU 0-2. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, SDSU 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 0-0,
SDSU 0-0. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 14-9.
GAME NOTES: Playing the second of three straight road games, the UNLV Rebels
kick off their Mountain West Conference schedule this weekend as they
challenge the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium.
Outside of a narrow 13-12 win against Northern Colorado at home in the second
game of the season, the Rebels haven’t been all that competitive thus far.
Granted, the squad did hang around versus visiting Northern Illinois a few
weeks back in a 48-34 setback at Sam Boyd Stadium, but last Saturday it was
easily handled by Houston in a 47-14 final.
Meanwhile, the Aztecs also have a win over a Big Sky program this season in
Northern Arizona (38-7), but that was followed by a 31-27 setback at
nationally-ranked North Carolina, and then last weekend SDSU was stumped by
Oregon State in Corvallis by a score of 28-7.
For the Aztecs, the road doesn’t get any easier in the coming weeks, as the
team heads out to challenge Fresno State and New Mexico in conference play
before coming home to face Hawaii on Oct. 18.
UNLV more than came out on top in last year’s meeting with the Aztecs, as the
Rebels crushed SDSU at home in a 45-19 decision during the regular-season
finale. However, even with that setback, San Diego State leads the all-time
series by a 14-9 margin.
The Rebels scored the first points of the game against Houston last Saturday,
and then promptly disappeared on both sides of the ball as the Cougars posted
30 unanswered points en route to the comfortable victory. Keith Whitely scored
that first TD for the Rebels, followed by a George Naufahu rushing score later
in the contest.
Quarterbacks Blake Decker and Nick Sherry combined to hit 16-of-39 passes for
146 yards, the former tossing a pair of interceptions and being sacked once,
while the latter had one of his 11 attempts picked off as well.
Even if Decker and Sherry had been more accurate, the pair would have had to
light up the skies with successful strikes in order to combat Houston’s
massive 399 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The hosts averaged almost
eight yards per rushing attempt, and also got two more TDs through the air.
The UNLV defense did manage to pick off a pair of passes and tally three
sacks, half of those by Josh Shirley who had only two total tackles in the
To no one’s surprise, UNLV owns the weakest run defense in the Football Bowl
Subdivision, giving up an incredible 305.3 ypg on the ground. Last season, the
team was also beaten up in the trenches, permitting 215.5 ypg rushing to rank
107th in the country when it was all said and done. Another issue with the
UNLV defense deals with the unit’s inability to force turnovers, showing a
minus-1.25 turnover margin per game at this point.
Unable to get Decker on track, throwing the ball has the team ranked 116th
nationally with a team passing efficiency rating of only 102.21. Yet another
strike against the Rebels has the squad being penalized for 85.5 ypg, ranking
it 116th in the nation this week.
Like the Rebels, San Diego State also scored the first points of its most
recent game, but after that the Aztecs fell silent, with possessions coming at
a premium. Quarterback Quinn Kaehler converted only 14 of his 26 pass
attempts, leading to 106 yards. Kaehler was picked off twice and suffered
three sacks, the latter bringing the team’s overall rushing total down to only
Donnel Pumphrey was the top rusher with 17 carries for a game-high 89 yards
and a score.
Defensively, the Aztecs did well to slow down Oregon State’s Sean Mannion,
limiting him to only 275 passing yards and no touchdowns, intercepting him
once and taking him down for three sacks. J.J. Whittaker and Trey Lomax both
had 11 tackles in the meeting. Through three games, Lomax sits atop the
tackles list for SDSU with 27 stops, and Whittaker is second with 24.
Pumphrey is not only averaging an even 100 ypg on the ground, he has accounted
for all but one of his team’s six rushing scores as well, the other being
tallied by Chase Price.
Unfortunately, while Pumphrey is more than carrying his own weight, the same
cannot be said for Kaehler who has watched his 58.5 percent accuracy be
undermined by six interceptions, against only two TDs. Because of Kaehler’s
picks, the Aztecs are ranked 103rd in the nation in team passing efficiency
with a rating of 111.03.
Both of these teams have some issues to work out on both sides of the ball,
but being at home should give the Aztecs a bit of a boost, as long as Kaehler
doesn’t make too many more poor decisions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego State 24, UNLV 20