San Diego State (7-4) at UNLV (6-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 10:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sam Boyd Stadium (41,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: SDSU 3-3, UNLV 3-3. Away Record: SDSU 4-1, UNLV 3-2. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: SDSU 6-1, UNLV 4-3. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 14-8.
GAME NOTES: It has been a long time coming, but the UNLV Rebels might actually have something to look forward to even after they close out the regular season against San Diego State at home on Saturday night.
For the first time since 2000, the Rebels are bowl eligible thanks to an impressive 41-21 win over the Air Force Falcons in MWC play last Thursday night. Winners of just two games in each of the previous three seasons, UNLV snapped a two-game slide with the victory over Air Force.
Should the Rebels be invited to take part in the postseason, their previous history in bowl games has them undefeated in three opportunities.
As for the Aztecs, they are still in the hunt for the West Division title in the MWC, but they'll need some help in order to make that happen. San Diego State currently trails undefeated and nationally-ranked Fresno State in the standings, but a loss to San Jose State and a win for SDSU would give the teams a share of the top spot. Unfortunately, because the Aztecs lost the head-to-head meeting last month, 35-28, FSU is still locked into the conference title game the first week of December.
San Diego State accomplished a rare feat last weekend as it defeated Boise State for the second season in a row, posting a 34-31 overtime victory at home. It was the seventh victory in the last eight outings overall.
The Aztecs lead the all-time series by a count of 14-8 after posting a 24-13 victory last year versus UNLV.
It was the fourth overtime game of the season for San Diego State, now 7-4 overall and enjoying a four-game win streak under head coach Rocky Long after the squad dropped three straight games to start the campaign. Quinn Kaehler, who threw a three-yard TD to Colin Lockett in overtime to capture the win, hit on 23-of-37 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, while Adam Muema not only scored once on the ground as he gained just 46 yards on 24 attempts, he also led SDSU with five receptions for 34 yards on the night.
Giving the Aztecs a boost on the defensive side of the ball was J.J. Whittaker who picked off a pair of passes and returned one of them 18 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. For his efforts, Whittaker was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week.
Even with the performance by Whittaker, the Aztecs are still slumping in the turnover department this season, tied for 117th in the nation with a minus-0.9 miscues per outing. Partly because of that problem, the Aztecs are giving up 31.2 ppg, 88th in the country this week.
On offense, the key figures for the Aztecs have been Muema and Donnel Pumphrey, combining for close to 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns, the yardage total being more than all of the opposing runners combined this season for the Aztecs, and the TDs two shy of SDSU combatants.
Tim Cornett carried the load for a Rebels team that is now 6-5 overall and 4-3 in conference, as he ran for a career-best 220 yards and four touchdowns for the Rebels in the victory last weekend. Cornett, the program's all-time leading rusher, went over the 1,000 yards mark for the second straight season and also notched the 16th 100-yard game of his career as the Rebels produced a whopping 330 yards and six touchdowns on 58 rushing attempts. Caleb Herring, who gained 56 yards and scored twice on 12 carries himself, converted all but three of his 18 passes for 141 yards on a frigid night.
Herring, who has taken over for Nick Sherry at quarterback, has been fantastic for the Rebels this season, hitting on 64.1 percent of his pass attempts, leading to 17 TDs and just four INTs on 334 attempts. By comparison, Sherry had five interceptions and just three TDs on a total of 75 attempts.
Devante Davis continues to be the top option down the field with his 69 receptions for 1,023 yards and 10 TDs, but there are still times when he takes a back seat to Cornett who is approaching 1,200 yards and has landed in the end zone 15 times by way of the run.
Both squads have a lot to play for this weekend, but the pressure really is on UNLV as it tries to provide the hometown fans with a lasting impression of just how great this season has been up until now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 27, San Diego State 24
11/27 11:09:16 ET