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Red-hot Rebels hope to keep pace with high-scoring Fresno State

UNLV’s offense is not only good, but by the Rebels’ standards, it is historically good.

They are putting up numbers not seen at the school since Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan sat in the White House.

But now the Rebels face an offense that is playing at an even higher level.

No. 17 Fresno State (5-0, 2-0 Mountain West) has scored more than 40 points in each game, and it might be a lot to ask UNLV (4-2, 2-0) to keep pace if the 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday becomes a shootout.

Rebels coach Bobby Hauck hopes for a few defensive stops, but acknowledged the task in front of his team.

“We’ve got to be honest with ourselves,” Hauck said Monday. “Fresno’s going to score some points. They do on everybody, and to a degree, if we want to have any chance of winning the game, then we’re going to have to keep up.

“We’re going to have to play darn near perfect to go in there and beat them.”

UNLV averages 33.3 points and 447.2 yards per game with its new hurry-up spread offense, significant jumps from last season’s 22.0 and 367.9 averages and a major reason for its four-game winning streak.

The Rebels haven’t averaged that many points since finishing with a school-record 34.9 in 1980. They are on pace for their program’s third-best mark of all time.

UNLV’s yardage average is its highest since the school record 491.3 in 1981, and the current figure is in line to be the fourth-best ever by the program.

Its offense seems to be getting hotter, with 579 yards Saturday against Hawaii and 568 two weeks ago at New Mexico. The Rebels scored 56 points against the Lobos, and finished with 39 against Hawaii.

UNLV probably would’ve scored more points against the Rainbow Warriors, but came away with just six points from its first four trips to the red zone. The Rebels picked up a school-record 38 first downs, breaking the previous standard of 35 set in 1980 against Texas-El Paso.

This seems to be an offense also gaining in confidence, even in dire situations.

When UNLV gave away a 19-point lead to the Warriors, the offense took over with 1:39 left and went 51 yards to set up Nolan Kohorst’s 44-yard game-winning field goal.

“We want to end every drive with a kick,” offensive tackle Brett Boyko said. “That’s our goal every time. We want to score touchdowns. We approach every possession that way.”

But whether UNLV’s offense will be able to keep up with Fresno State’s is another question. Oddsmakers don’t think so, making the Rebels 23-point underdogs.

Fresno State averages 47.4 points and 538 yards per game. Quarterback Derek Carr, the reigning Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, averages 372.8 yards passing, and he has thrown 19 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.

Carr “is as good a player as we’ll see at that position this year,” Hauck said. “We’ve got our hands full with these guys.”

NOTES — This game will not be televised, but it will be available free online at unlvrebels.com. … The kickoff for UNLV’s game at UNR on Oct. 26 has been set for 3 p.m., and will be televised by ESPN3. … Kohorst was named the Mountain West special teams player of the week, and he was one of three kickers nationally to receive the Lou Groza Award Star of the Week. … A correction was made the game statistics from Saturday, and UNLV ran 113 plays instead of 114, which still is a conference record. … Quarterback Caleb Herring’s streak of 183 passes without an interception is a UNLV record and tied the Mountain West mark by Wyoming’s Brett Smith in 2012 and 2013. Herring’s run of perfection ended on the final play of the first half against Hawaii.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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