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New FSM Preview: UNLV vs Utah State – Week 4

Franchise Sports Media

UNLV Rebels (2-1)  |  Utah State Aggies (1-2)

 

Mountain West Conference play will officially begin for the UNLV Rebels on Saturday. UNLV will travel to Logan, Utah, to take on the Utah State Aggies, a match-up in which UNLV has yet to come out victorious in the previous six meetings.

 

UNLV vs Utah State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

With the best start to a season in the Marcus Arroyo era, the Rebels will meet up with a familiar foe in the defending Mountain West champions, the Utah State Aggies. Arroyo has yet to defeat these Aggies, let alone come away with much success in the conference. Saturday is another opportunity to prove to the entire conference that UNLV football is much different this season.

After a 58-21 victory over North TexasUNLV saw transfer Aiden Robbins make a statement as the new top rusher in town with a 229-yard, three-touchdown performance. But also saw sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield take more strides in his growth and leadership with his four total touchdown day in the blowout win. On top of all of that, UNLV’s defense hit with a purpose and created a total of four turnovers.

When you put that all together, the results will follow. Now, the Rebels will attempt to see winning results against conference opponents, and what would be a better way to start than with the defending champions themselves?

 

 Utah State is off to a slow start defending their title and will look for a clean slate out of a bye-week.

 

UNLV vs Utah State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

The Aggies are 1-2 on the season, yet one of their losses comes to the juggernaut of the University of Alabama. Not even SEC schools find ways to score on that defense, let alone would Utah State, as they didn’t, being shut out 55-0 that night in Tuscaloosa. 

The other loss on Utah State’s record comes far more alarming. Before the bye-week, the Aggies dropped a home game to Weber State, 35-7.

Quarterback Logan Bonner struggled mightily in that loss, throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns. Bonner has been under siege to the start of this season; some of that may be due to playing on an injured knee. Nevertheless, Bonner will feel the pressure from the UNLV defense and the Utah State brass, as the lack of offensive efficiency has been a problem early on for the Aggies.  

 

UNLV’s defense is ready to hit a conference opponent.

 

UNLV vs Utah State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Not that the first few games didn’t matter,” defensive back Johnathan Baldwin said, “now that we are in conference play, everything matters now.” Baldwin takes part in a secondary, playing with a lot of energy and matching the violence of a solid front four on the Rebels’ defensive line.

When the offense averages 41.7 points a game, it is easy to overlook what the defense is doing. But for UNLV, the defense will be the steady shoulder to lean on moving throughout this season. Against Utah State, the Rebels will look to carry over an outstanding run-stop defense and potentially force Bonner into tough throws and come away with more turnovers.

Utah State sees a much different team in this year’s UNLV Rebels. The Aggies are only averaging 12.1 points per game thus far, and the Rebels are only giving up a vastly improved 22.67 points per game. This is a match-up where the Aggies will try to find a new fluidity in their offense, whereas the Rebels will look to build off of these impressive three outings.

All eyes will be on Utah State’s ability to get anything going at home offensively fresh out of the bye-week against this defensive front. According to themw.com, UNLV’s defense ranks fifth in the entire conference. At the same time, the Utah State offense ranks 11th.

 

Arroyo is looking for his first conference win of the season.

 

UNLV vs Utah State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV will play only one more non-conference opponent this year, which is not until late October in a rare meeting with Notre Dame. Therefore, Saturday begins a march down the road of some serious meetings against teams that have had the Rebels’ number.

It may very well be too early to pay attention to the standings, yet UNLV does have a winning record, and with the defending champion, Utah State Aggies struggling, this is a big chance for the Rebels to put themselves on the map. Although it is still early in the season, whenever a conference game is played, neither team is looking to drop that meeting and play catch-up within the Mountain West. 

Utah State will surely bring their A-game off the bye and host a team they have handled well in the past. Arroyo and his coaching staff have made huge strides with this squad in the first three games. Another stride will look to be made, which is collecting a conference win.

The outcome of this game may show whose time is up and or whose time is just beginning, as the Aggies will try to elude a 1-3 start. In comparison, the Rebels would love to move to an unexpected 3-1 start.

 

UNLV travels to Maverik Stadium for a 4:00 pm kick-off. You can watch at the Hey Reb/Rebel Den watch party at Twin Peaks on Eastern. There will be drink & food specials all game long. The game is being broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

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Brandon Steele – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Brandon on Twitter @SteeleBomb17

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