Boise, ID (Sports Network) - The UNLV Rebels go up against another top-flight
program from the Mountain West Conference this weekend as the team tangles
with the 24th-ranked Boise State Broncos on the blue turf in Idaho.
Last weekend, the Rebels appeared to be well on their way to taking out in-
state rival Nevada at home, opening with a 21-0 lead, but the team
subsequently squandered that effort and bowed in a 42-37 final. The loss was
the third in a row and the sixth in seven tries this year for a UNLV squad
that has not won on the road since topping New Mexico, 34-17, back on Oct. 24,
2009, a stretch of 18 straight games which is one of the longest droughts in
As for the Broncos, they ran their win streak to five games in row last
weekend as they slipped by Fresno State in a 20-10 final at home. While the
victory was by double digits, it by no way compared with the 57-7 thrashing
Boise State presented the Bulldogs with a year ago. Nevertheless, the Broncos
have done what's necessary in order to remain in the national rankings and
keep future opponents on their toes.
Checking in at No. 22 in the initial BCS standings for 2012, the Broncos have
now appeared in the standings for the 38th straight week, the longest active
stretch in the nation and the eighth-longest in the history of the poll. The
other good news for Boise State is that the team has not lost during the month
of October since the 2001 campaign, a run of 46 consecutive games.
Boise State, which is 88-6 in conference games since the beginning of 2000 and
has a remarkable 77-3 mark at home since that time, topped the Rebels last
season in a 48-21 decision, giving BSU a 4-3 edge in the all-time series.
"I feel sick for our kids, especially our seniors, and our fans too," said
UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck after his team coughed up a potential win against
Nevada. "We had a good plan today and we came out and didn't execute well
enough in the second half. We came close but no cigar. I think we have closed
the gap on them, but obviously not enough to get the win. Obviously bitterly
Coach Hauck saw his team go from a commanding first-half lead to bowing to the
Wolf Pack for the eighth straight time and that was with Nevada playing with a
Nick Sherry tried to keep the hosts in the mix as he converted 21-of-35 passes
for 243 yards and a score, while Tim Cornett chipped in 129 yards and another
trip to the end zone, but it simply wasn't meant to be as the UNLV defense
permitted 329 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and another 167 yards
and two TDs through the air.
Cornett, who has run for at least 100 yards five times this season, now needs
just 36 more yards to reach 2,000 for his career, but as the fourth-ranked
running back in the MWC with 106.7 ypg, he still needs Sherry to perform at a
high level in order to have a chance at finding holes along the line of
Sherry, one of a multitude of signal-callers to fill the position the last
several years in Sin City, has had his moments with 253.0 ypg, leading to 11
touchdowns, but he has also been picked off eight times and those turnovers
have put the UNLV defense on the hot seat.
After seven games the Rebels have permitted 478.7 ypg (ranking 109th in the
country) and allowed at least 30 points to all but one opponent.
A year ago at this time the Broncos were seventh in the country in scoring
with 44.3 ppg and finished out the year with 44.2 ppg which was good for
fifth, but that was with Kellen Moore at quarterback and a host of experienced
players throughout the offense and now the team is having to adjust to life
after being on top.
Now averaging just 25.2 ppg to rank eighth in the conference and 80th in the
nation, Joe Southwick played well enough to guide the Broncos to yet another
victory last week as he converted 11-of-22 passes for 113 yards and a
touchdown, but was also sacked once and had a pass picked off. D.J. Harper
helped save the day as he ran for a game-high 122 yards and a touchdown.
More importantly, the defense came ready to play for BSU versus the Bulldogs,
holding a fourth-straight opponent scoreless in the first half. In fact, the
unit has been so dominant this season that a total of just 19 points have been
given up in the first half over the course of six games.
"I think it starts with our defense - those guys are playing extremely hard,"
Boise State head coach Chris Petersen of his team after the game. "Holding
Fresno (State) to 10 points is really impressive. I thought our offense did
what we needed to do. I can't seem to predict any of these games, how
they're going to go, but if I was, I thought it would go a little bit like
that - tough sledding."
Of the team's three sacks, Demarcus Lawrence accounted for two so now the
Broncos rank second in the league and 38th in the country with 2.3 sacks per
Outside of the 29 points allowed to a surprising New Mexico squad last month,
the defense has again been the hallmark for the Broncos by limiting opponents
to just 14.7 ppg (12th nationally). The squad is forcing turnovers at better
than three per game and as long as the offense is able to minimize mistakes
the turnover margin will continue to favor the Broncos no matter how Southwick
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