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5 burning questions ahead of UNLV-San Jose State

Five burning questions for UNLV football’s game against San Jose State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium:

1. How important is this game?

UNLV’s season is on the line. The Rebels are 12-point favorites — the line moved up from 10 — and a victory gets them to 2-2 with a realistic shot of making a bowl in what continues to be a down Mountain West. Beating the Spartans is especially important because games against San Diego State and Air Force follow, so the Rebels could emerge from the weekend with high hopes of having quite a bit to play for or be facing a season very much in peril.

2. How many points can UNLV score?

Maybe as many as the Rebels want because they not only will face a struggling San Jose State defense, but one that is getting worn down and could have nothing left by the second half. San Jose State, which gives up 45.2 points per game, has been on the field for 441 plays. The next closest in the country is Massachusetts at 359. Utah State beat the Spartans 61-10 on Saturday.

3. What about the Rebels’ defense?

This is a game where UNLV should build confidence on that side of the ball. San Jose State averages 16.4 points, and the Spartans have shuffled through quarterbacks in hopes of finding an answer. One hasn’t come. If UNLV’s defense doesn’t show improvement in this game, good luck with that happening the rest of the season.

4. Why do the Spartans have UNLV’s number?

That’s a mystery because San Jose State hasn’t exactly been an elite program, but the Spartans have beaten UNLV each of the past four seasons. And if you take it back to when both were in the Western Athletic Conference in the 1990s, the streak stretches to seven games. San Jose State usually would have a mental edge in that regard, but the Spartans have a new coaching staff, so any advantage should be negated.

5. Did the Rebels take anything out of the weekend that could help in this game?

UNLV was beaten 54-21 at Ohio State on Saturday, and it wasn’t that close, with the Buckeyes leading 44-7 at halftime. The Rebels will not face a faster and more physical team, so in that regard, games like this one should slow down for them.

More Rebels: Follow all of our UNLV coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJRebels on Twitter.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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