UNLV Football Preview: UNLV vs San Jose State

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For the last final time in program history, the UNLV Rebels return to Sam Boyd Stadium to play San Jose State. It is the final game at the iconic Las Vegas venue. The team wants to send it off in the right way, with a win, but they will face a tough task in doing that against a team that won at Arkansas and West Point earlier this season.

New UNLV Football Preview: UNLV vs San Jose State - Week 11

These two wins have highlighted the Spartan’s overall record of 4-6, and 1-5 in the Mountain West. On the flip-side, UNLV is a dismal 2-8 on the season, including a 0-6 record in the conference. The Rebels are coming off of a disappointing loss at home against Hawaii. They only allowed 14 points on defense, and a pick-six thrown by quarterback Kenyon Oblad. The team could never find a rhythm in the passing game and wound up losing 21-7.

However, to send Sam Boyd Stadium off in a way that many players and coaches want to involves fielding a good ground game, winning the turnover battle, and being able to pressure Spartan quarterback Josh Love.

Finding a good ground game is critical in this match-up.

When Ryan Agnew of San Diego State struggled to throw the ball, Aztec running backs Juwan Washington and Chase Jasmin were there to pick up the slack. The duo rushed for a combined 148 yards and two touchdowns, helping to guide SDSU to victory. In their losses, San Jose State has given up appNew UNLV Football Preview: UNLV vs San Jose State - Week 11roximately 250 yards rushing in each game.

Even though Kenyon Oblad (10-22, 118 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) struggled last week, he will have to help create a manageable situation in this game to make the Spartan defense respect the Rebel run game. Backup running back Chad Magyar has looked good so far this season for the Rebels after he missed the first four games of the season due to a disciplinary issue.

Starting running back, Charles Williams is only 67 yards away from breaking 1,000 yards on the season, even after missing the second half of the Wyoming game due to a knee injury. The team will have to rely on both running backs if they want a chance to defeat San Jose State and knock them out of contention with seven losses.

Secondly, the Rebels need to win the turnover battle this week.

Opposing teams that have defeated the Spartans have a 5:5 turnover ratio (excluding Air Force, who is exceptionally good at running the football with 382 yards in their win against SJSU on the ground).

New UNLV Football Preview: UNLV vs San Jose State - Week 11

The opponents who San Jose State have defeated have a 14:3 turnover ratio — I am just pointing out the fact to drive the point home that the Rebels need to be able to take care of the ball. With Oblad having more turnovers than touchdowns on the season, that does not bode well for the Rebels.

This SJSU defense is especially opportunistic and will be able to defend against poorly thrown balls, which Oblad is known to throw from time-to-time. He did this against the Rainbow Warriors, where he threw balls into double and triple coverages all day long.

The final thing that the Rebels need to do against the Spartans is to pressure Josh Love.

UNLV Head Coach Tony Sanchez pointed this out in his weekly press conference on Monday when asked about what his team needs to do to stop Love when he has thrown for over 300 yards the last two years the Rebels have had to play him. The stars of the defense, including Farrell Hester II, RayShad Jackson, and Gabe McCoy, will need to pressure Love to force him to throw bad balls.

New UNLV Football Preview: UNLV vs San Jose State - Week 11

In wins this year, Love has only thrown one interception as compared to three when he has lost, besides having a completion percentage in the mid-50s. These statistics point to the fact that Love does not do well under pressure. Sacks won’t be enough, as Love guided the Spartans to a win over New Mexico having been sacked three times.

For the Rebels to come away with a victory in the final game at Sam Boyd, a lot needs to go UNLV’s way. It can happen if they follow this blueprint and if Oblad can get the defense to respect the pass. If the run game stalls, then the chances of a win are severely diminished.

Look for the Rebels to come out and fight hard for this win, as it would be their first conference win of the season; it would knock San Jose State out of bowl contention as well as give UNLV one last win. Win no. 157 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

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