Wyoming (3-7) at UNLV (2-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 4 pm (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: Local. Home Record: Wyoming 1-4, UNLV 2-4. Away Record: Wyoming 2-3, UNLV 0-5. Neutral Record: Wyoming 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: Wyoming 2-4, UNLV 2-4. Series Record: Series is tied, 10-10.
GAME NOTES: The Wyoming Cowboys try to run their win streak to three in a row this weekend as they face off against the UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference action at Sam Boyd Stadium in Sin City.
Wyoming started the 2012 campaign with three straight setbacks and then finally broke through against Idaho in overtime, which isn't all that impressive given that the Vandals enter this week with a record of just 1-9. After that, four more defeats followed before the Pokes took out Colorado State, 45-31, and then last week dropped New Mexico in a 28-23 final on the road.
The last time Wyoming enjoyed a three-game win streak was the start of the 2011 campaign when it defeated Weber State, Texas State and Bowling Green. For the team's last three-game win streak against schools from the Football Bowl Subdivision you have to go back to 2009 when the team turned the trick versus UNLV, Florida Atlantic and New Mexico.
As for the Rebels, they were hoping to put together their first set of back- to-back wins last weekend when they faced Colorado State on the road, but UNLV was turned away in a 33-11 final. Winners of just two games in 11 attempts this season, the Rebels have matched their win total from both 2010 and 2011.
The Pokes posted a 41-14 win at home in last year's meeting in order to tie the series with the Rebels at 10 games apiece.
Wyoming scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, all of which were passes by Brett Smith who eventually finished up 20-of-32 for 374 yards and four scores, while shaking off three sacks which dropped his rushing total down to only 22 net yards as the Cowboys claimed the win against New Mexico in Albuquerque. Jalen Claiborne turned both of his receptions into touchdowns and Dominic Rufran caught six balls for a game-high 116 yards and a TD as well.
Defensively, the team did allow 396 yards rushing and 551 yards of total offense to the hosts, but that just goes to show that the most important stat is on the scoreboard. Nevertheless, the Cowboys now rank 112th in the country in run defense with 223.0 ypg allowed and 105th in total defense, giving up 465.3 ypg which has led to 33.6 ppg.
The only hope for the Cowboys these days is the play of Smith who ranks third in the conference and 21st nationally in total offense with his 299.0 ypg. Not only has Smith completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 22 yards and only six interceptions, he is also tied for the team lead with four rushing scores as well.
UNLV was held off the scoreboard for the first three quarters and then scored a touchdown, a two-point conversion and a field goal which made no difference in the final outcome in the setback against Colorado State at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. Quarterbacks Nick Sherry and Caleb Herring had little influence as the former completed just 12-of-30 passes for 88 yards and a couple of INTs, while the latter completed two passes for 33 yards in the loss. Sherry did have a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to Max Johnson for just one yard, but it was also the lone catch for Johnson in the meeting. UNLV produced only 219 yards of total offense.
From a defensive standpoint, the Rebels started off well enough against Colorado State, forcing a punt and making an interception on the first two series, but slowly the Rams picked apart the visitors and turned 340 yards of offense into a highly successful effort.
Defense for the Rebels overall has been questionable at best, with the group giving up 223.5 ypg on the ground and another 225.7 ypg through the air. Obviously, UNLV has managed to produce very little push at the line of scrimmage based on those numbers, not to mention the fact that the Rebels are ranked eighth in the conference and 107th nationally in sacks with just 1.27 per contest.
John Lotulelei has done all he can to carry the team with his 108 tackles through 11 games, his average of almost 10 stops per game ranking him first in the league.
Sherry has had his ups and downs in the pocket with almost as many INTs (14) as TDs (15) and while Tim Cornett is one of the top runners in the conference with 1,144 yards and seven TDs, those efforts are simply not reflected in the team's record.
As long as the Rebels have trouble stopping the run with any regularity, Wyoming and Smith are going to find cracks to expose on their way to another win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 35, UNLV 21
11/14 10:42:04 ET