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Central Michigan (1-1) at UNLV (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 10 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: Mountain West Network. Home Record: CMU 1-0, UNLV 0-1. Away Record: CMU 0-1, UNLV 0-1. Neutral Record: CMU 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Series Record: UNLV leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: Losers of five in a row, the UNLV Rebels try to put together a solid effort this coming weekend when they host the Central Michigan Chippewas in non-conference play at Sam Boyd Stadium.
UNLV, which lost three straight to close out the 2012 campaign, yet another disappointing season under head coach Bobby Hauck, has done little to show that 2013 will be any better. The team opened with a disappointing 51-23 loss at Minnesota, and then bowed to Arizona in the home opener last Saturday, 58-13.
UNLV is in the midst of a three-game home stand and is slated to play four of five games at home, but by no means does any of that translate into success for this group.
As for the Chippewas, they too were destroyed in their first game of the season on Aug. 31, a 59-9 defeat at the hands of 17th-ranked Michigan, but unlike the Rebels this team was able to bounce back in a positive manner. At home last Saturday, CMU managed to capture a 24-21 victory over New Hampshire, the team's fifth win in the last six outings overall.
UNLV leads the all-time series by a count of 2-1, thanks in part to a massive 52-24 blowout win in the most recent encounter back in 1994.
Trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against New Hampshire, the Chippewas turned to a pair of youngsters to get them over the hump in Cooper Rush and Ron Coluzzi. Rush began the comeback effort with touchdown passes of 20 and 97 yards to Andrew Flory and Titus Davis, respectively, while Coluzzi knocked through a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give the hosts the thrilling win.
Thanks to the long pass to Davis, Rush finished the afternoon with 326 yards through the air, leading to a total of three TDs. Davis notched two of those scores, generating 184 yards on six receptions overall.
The Chippewas had a couple of stars on the defensive side of the ball as well, with Justin Cherocci posting 13 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles, while Kavon Frazier had both an interception and a fumble recovery for the home team.
Surviving against New Hampshire, and having to come from behind is one thing, but the Chippewas have a long way to go before they can be considered a threat in the Mid-American Conference this season. While it has still been just two games, it is clear that CMU is lacking a strong rushing attack, averaging just 85.0 ypg which ranks the group 113th in the country.
Another sore spot is on the other side of the ball where the Chippewas have permitted their two opponents to convert close to 52 percent of their third- down attempts, an effort that ranks CMU 110th in the nation.
UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry had three of his passes go for touchdowns last Saturday, unfortunately two of those were interceptions returned by Arizona during the 45-point blowout in the desert. Sherry completed just 6-of-22 passes for 111 yards and was pulled at the half in favor of Caleb Herring who converted just 3-of-5 for another 14 yards and was sacked once during the onslaught.
On a more positive note, Tim Cornett's 62 rushing yards on 15 attempts gives him 2,591 yards for his career which moves him to fourth on the school's all- time rushing list. Cornett is also seventh in all-purpose yards at UNLV with 3,442.
Cornett is certainly a player the Rebels can count on for a solid performance most of the time, but now the question is whether or not Sherry can make it through a full 60 minutes before falling apart.
The bigger question is how long will coach Hauck be willing to put up with a defense that ranks 122nd in the nation with a massive 54.5 ppg allowed? The problem there is the new defensive coordinator is his brother Tim Hauck who was with the Cleveland Browns as a defensive backs coach last season. Perhaps being a coordinator is a little too much for Tim to handle at the moment, although we'll have a better picture once conference play rolls around for the Rebels.
Central Michigan is by no means an offensive juggernaut, so the Rebels come out ahead in that department at least. As long as the UNLV defense can apply a good amount of pressure on a fresh-faced Rush, the outcome will be a far cry from what the Rebels have already experienced this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 27, Central Michigan 17
09/11 10:32:02 ET