Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

 

Game Preview: UNLV vs. Fresno State – Week 3

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UNLV (0-2) vs Fresno State (1-1) – Week 3

 

The Rebels look for their first win of the season hosting Fresno State on Saturday.

 

The Rebels look to avoid starting 0-3 in the first season under new head coach Marcus Arroyo. In their first game at their new home, brand new Allegiant Stadium, the game did not go as planned for UNLV. The Rebels will now look to build on the positives they showed last week in their loss to Nevada. The Bulldogs have won 13 of the last 16 games against the Rebels as Fresno State hits the road for the first time this season.

 

 

UNLV will look to come out firing early, and have a strong start to the game.

 

UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

UNLV lost the last time out against their in-state rivals in Nevada. Although it was their second loss in a row, the Rebels’ offense did have a better performance in week 2 than in week 1. Max Gilliam was the starter again and threw for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was much more efficient in his second start with coach Arroyo and this new offense as he found a rhythm when the Rebels went no-huddle. He must continue to get more and more comfortable with the offense for this team to have some success.

Once again, the Rebels’ defense got off to a slow start. They faced a prolific passer in Carson Strong, who has had a great start to the Wolf Pack season. He threw for 350 yards and 2 touchdowns for UNR. For the Rebels, the biggest key to this game may be starting it off on the right foot.

 

The problem was that the Rebels allowed 24 points in the first half.

 

UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

In both games this season, they have allowed 20 plus points in the first half and have had to come from behind, but both times they fell short. In both of the games, the team made halftime adjustments and played well in the second half, but they were coming back from too much of a deficit. They need to let the offense work with a lead so they can continue to feed the ball to Fresno native Charles Williams and therefore open up the passing game.

It won’t be an easy task as Fresno State will look to get off to a start similar to last week in which Jake Haener was 14-17 throwing the football for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half alone. The Rebels will look to keep Haener, Rivers, and this Bulldog offense off the field as much as possible, not only throughout the entirety of the game but especially early on.

Fresno State got their first win of the season last time out with a 38-27 victory over Colorado State to improve their record to 1-1. They lost to Hawaii in the first game of the season. In their win, it was a complete game from the Bulldogs as they scored 31 unanswered points led by their star running back Ronnie Rivers. Rivers had 95 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns as well as 69 yards receiving and a touchdown. Rivers has now had a touchdown in 10 straight games dating back to last season. Quarterback Jake Haener had 311 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, which were both career highs for the junior from Danville, California.

 

 

Seeing Ronnie Rivers and Charles Williams on the same field is must see football.

 

UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Williams and Ronnie Rivers are similar running backs. Both are 5’9 and seniors who are not only durable but very elusive as well. It’s been a stronger start to the season for Rivers between the two as Fresno State has seen their offense establish more consistency early on than the Rebels have. However, Charles Williams was a yard short of breaking 100 yards rushing last week against Nevada and still has opposing defenses on their toes every single play.

Williams has his best games against his hometown team and plays with a chip on his shoulder since the Bulldogs didn’t recruit him out of Bullard High School in Fresno. The former Fresno State staff told Williams he could walk-on as a cornerback and didn’t feel he had the size and ability to play running back, despite him leading the Central Valley in rushing and being named the Central Valley Player of the Year.

For Rivers, as mentioned before, he has a streak of 10 consecutive games with a touchdown. Rivers has 174 rushing yards this season and 3 rushing touchdowns.

Part of what makes both of these young men so unique is that they are also dual-threat backs. Rivers has 77 yards and a touchdown receiving this season, while Williams caught 5 passes out of the backfield last week. We have seen more and more over the years how important it is for running backs to be able to catch passes as well, and these running backs do it at an exceptional level.

The last time these teams played each other, Fresno State demolished the Rebels  56-27. The Bulldogs had a total of 6 rushing touchdowns. However, this game on Saturday will be played with both teams having different starting quarterbacks than a year ago. The UNLV defense will look to stop the Fresno State offense, which they have not been able to do the last two meetings, allowing 48 points or more the last two games against the Bulldogs. UNLV fans are eager to see a win as the Rebels will look to give them that with an afternoon kickoff on Saturday.

 

 

The Rebels host the Fresno State Bulldogs in an afternoon game at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday at 12:30 PM on CBSSN.

 

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-Jarret Thompson – Franchise Sports Media

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