FACTS & STATS: Site: Spartan Stadium (30,456) — San Jose, California.
Television: ESPNews. Home Record: UNLV 1-1, SJSU 1-1. Away Record: UNLV 0-3,
SJSU 0-2. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, SJSU 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 0-1,
SJSU 0-1. Series Record: San Jose State leads, 12-5-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams trying to put an end to three-game slides get
together in California this weekend, as the San Jose State Spartans host the
UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference play.
San Jose State, which joined the MWC after leaving the Western Athletic
Conference, won its season opener in late August, topping North Dakota by a
score of 42-10, but has since failed to get back into the win column. Defeats
against Auburn and Minnesota on the road and outside of conference came prior
to the Spartans being defeated by Nevada at home on Sept. 27 by a score of
As for the Rebels, they too picked up a win early on in the campaign with a
narrow 13-12 triumph over Northern Colorado at Sam Boyd Stadium, but have gone
winless since. Last weekend, UNLV opened its conference slate with a 34-17
loss at San Diego State, the second of three straight road tests for a team
that made it to the postseason in 2013 after a lengthy drought.
With a 34-24 win in Las Vegas last season, the Spartans moved to 12-5-1 in the
all-time series against UNLV.
Quarterback Blake Decker tried to do it all for the Rebels in the last game,
not only throwing for 346 yards and a touchdown, but also scoring once on 19
rushing attempts during the loss to San Diego State. Decker finished the
meeting 18-of-31, tossed a couple of interceptions and was sacked six times,
which is why he was left with just 38 net rushing yards.
Devonte Boyd turned his four catches into a game-high 86 yards, but that
wasn’t nearly enough to keep the squad out of the loss column yet again.
Defensively, the Rebels limited SDSU to just four possessions and a pair of
field goals in the second half, but by then the damage had already been done.
The squad managed only three tackles for loss and a single sack, the latter
coming from Sonny Sanitoa.
Permitting just under 40 ppg, the Rebels are one of the weaker defenses not
just in the MWC but in the nation at the moment. Opponents are doing quite a
bit of damage on the ground as they run for 295.6 ypg and have tallied a total
of 15 touchdowns. The pass defense has been only slightly better with 250.4
Decker has managed to complete 54.4 percent of his passes thus far, averaging
245.8 ypg and leading to five TDs, but because he has tossed nine INTs his
efficiency rating is down to 118.0. The loss of Shaquille Murray-Lawrence to a
leg injury, leaving him questionable for this weekend’s meeting, has added to
the burden for Decker since the running back was responsible for two of the
team’s five rushing TDs, even though he has appeared in just two outings.
Keith Whitely (220 yards on 48 carries) has taken on more of the
responsibilities coming out of the backfield, but still he has crossed the
goal line only once, leaving Decker to scramble out of the pocket a few too
San Jose State’s offense exploded for 446 yards last weekend as the team
hosted Nevada. While that might not sound like a huge number, considering the
Wolf Pack produced only 256 yards and ran 29 fewer plays, it certainly would
indicate to many that the Spartans probably came out on the winning side,
which would not be the case.
Joe Gray converted 32-of-46 passes for 276 yards, but he was unable to get any
of those completions into the end zone. Instead, one of his two interceptions
was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by Nevada, the final nail
in the coffin as SJSU was held scoreless over the final 27 minutes of the
There were no remarkable plays made by the San Jose State defense, other than
the unit holding Nevada without a single third-down conversion on nine
attempts. The group limited the visitors to a mere 64 net passing yards, an
astonishing number, but really that’s just an example of how stats can be
Through the first four games, the Spartans have been pushed around when trying
to hold down opposing running attacks. Entering play this week SJSU ranks
122nd in the nation with a massive 262.0 ypg allowed rushing, but at least the
more encouraging number shows the pass defense stepping up and performing
better than all but one other team (Stanford) in the FBS, surrendering a mere
Opponents are averaging less than 10 completed passes per game and have found
the end zone only once, leading the SJSU secondary to an efficiency rating of
95.86 which is 11th nationally. Nevertheless, those teams are still scoring
28.5 ppg, compared to just 18.0 ppg for the Spartans, who are 115th in the
The so-called rushing attack is averaging a mere 2.9 yards per attempt, 113.2
ypg overall, and has tallied just three touchdowns on 154 attempts.
The combination of quarterbacks Gray and Blake Jurich has produced 243.0 ypg
and a total of five TDs, while completing an impressive 65.7 percent of pass
attempts, but the pairing has also tossed seven TDs, more than explaining why
points have been tough to come by in the early going.
Like other San Jose State opponents, UNLV will make an effort to put Decker in
encouraging positions, where he might be able to find some cracks in the
Spartans defense, but chances are the Rebels will fail to make enough
significant plays to win the game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 27, UNLV 10