Fresno State vs. UNLV: Keys To A Bulldogs Win, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction

Fresno State vs. UNLV: Keys To A Bulldogs Win, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction

The Bulldogs look to take another step toward the West division title against the upstart Rebels. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.

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A key two-game road swing begins.

WEEK 11: Fresno State Bulldogs (5-4, 4-1 Mountain West) vs. UNLV Rebels (4-5, 2-3 MW)

WHEN: Friday, November 11 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT

WHERE: Allegiant Stadium; Las Vegas, NV

WEATHER: Partly cloudy, high of 59 degrees (game indoors)

TV: CBS Sports Network

STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes CBSSN, by following this link.

RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Bulldog Sports Network, including 1340 AM (KCBL) in Fresno. The UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM.

SERIES RECORD: Fresno State leads the all-time series, 17-7. In the last meeting on September 24, 2021, the Bulldogs defeated the Rebels, 38-30, in Fresno.

LAST WEEK: Fresno State defeated Hawaii at home, 55-13, while UNLV lost on the road against San Diego State, 14-10.

WEBSITES: GoBulldogs.com, the official Fresno State athletics website | UNLVRebels.com, the official UNLV athletics website

GAME NOTES (PDF): Fresno State | UNLV

ODDS: Fresno State -9.5

SP+ PROJECTION: Fresno State by 10.8 (73% win probability)

FEI PROJECTION: Fresno State by 8.9

PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: Fresno State 64.54% win probability (30.18-25.04)

Fresh off of a blowout victory against Hawaii on Saturday night, the Fresno State Bulldogs will hit the road on a short week, looking to secure their fifth straight win against the UNLV Rebels.

A few key Rebels returned to the field from injury last week, but Marcus Arroyo‘s team couldn’t curb their recent struggles in a close road loss to San Diego State. With plenty of talent at UNLV’s disposal and last year’s close contest on their minds, however, the ‘Dogs won’t want to take anything for granted as long as they control their own destiny. Here’s how Fresno State can cash in another W.

Three Keys to a Fresno State Victory

1. Use the passing game to start fast.

For as potent as the Rebels have been on offense at times this season, one thing UNLV hasn’t done particularly well is rally. They’re just 2-5 when opponents score first and 0-5 when trailing after three quarters.

With that in mind, offensive coordinator Kirby Moore might give star quarterback Jake Haener the green light to let it fly. That’s because, regardless of whether it’s been Haener or Logan Fife under center, one thing the Bulldogs have done well all year is throw the ball early in games. In nine first quarters to date, Fresno State sports a 79.2% completion rate for 8.4 yards per attempt.

Even though the UNLV defense still leads the Mountain West with 13 interceptions, they have also allowed 7.6 yards per attempt and 30 plays of 20-plus yards. Attacking the Rebels early may prove worth the risk if Fresno State can secure an early lead.

2. Protect the quarterback.

To make that strategy viable, though, keeping Haener on his feet will be vital. UNLV had one of its best overall defensive performances of the year last Saturday against San Diego State, posting a season-high six sacks, and pushed their season-long sack rate to 8.5%, which ranks 19th in the country after Week 10. Even without Jacoby Windmon, who transferred to Michigan State last off-season, and Brennon Scott, who got injured in the spring, the Rebels have put it together under defensive coordinator Keith Hayward.

Well, sometimes, at least. 19 of UNLV’s 23 sacks have come in just four games, but since the Bulldogs are navigating their own offensive line shuffle — Braylen Nelson stepped in at right tackle last week after Dontae Bull was shelved for the remainder of the season with injury — there may not be a clear-cut advantage on either side here.

3. Watch out for the Williamses.

Oddly enough, the Rebels have cornered the market on players with the Williams surname, but they all happen to be pretty good. Kyle Williams, of course, is a former Mountain West freshman of the year who returned to action two weeks ago after missing three games to injury. Nohl Williams, meanwhile, is the team’s top cornerback with five passes defended and three interceptions, but they have plenty of company of which the Bulldogs will need to be aware.

On offense, wide receiver Nick Williams has steadily taken on a bigger role throughout the fall and had his best overall game to date last week against the Aztecs with four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. In the secondary, Jerrae Williams had graded out as the defense’s top safety according to Pro Football Focus, with a 74.1 overall mark on the strength of 41 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions. All can do some damage if the Bulldogs aren’t careful.

Prediction

On paper, it would seem that the Bulldogs should win this one going away since both teams been headed in opposite directions over the past four weeks. UNLV has shown a capacity to surprise in this series, though: The Rebels won three of four between 2014 and 2017 and had the lead in last year’s game with less than six minutes to go.

Both offenses could perform well in this game, which means it could come down to which quarterback, Haener or Doug Brumfield, makes fewer mistakes. Trust that Fresno State’s seasoned veteran won’t blink when the chips are down, so to speak.

Fresno State 37, UNLV 31

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Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire