Five things to look for when UNLV’s football team plays at UNR at noon Saturday:
1. Plenty of emotion early.
The Rebels came out flat in last year’s 45-10 loss. Don’t expect that to happen again. They know what’s on the line in this game with bowl eligibility at stake, and they have learned from last season’s game. The Wolf Pack have made no secret this is their bowl, and they will play like it.
2. Which team actually plays better.
Emotion lasts for only so long. The game eventually will come down to which team executes better, limits turnovers and takes advantage of opportunities.
3. Points, points, points.
Both team have strong offenses and weak defenses, so it’s little surprise the total is 68 points. UNLV averages 30.0 points and gives up 32.5; UNR is at 28.6 and 35.5. Those numbers favor the Rebels, but most likely, the winner will be decided by which defense makes a key second-half stop.
4. UNLV’s pass defense.
The Rebels have plenty of injuries on defense, and it will be a challenge, but they must make UNR go to its running game. The Wolf Pack have gone to the Air Raid under first-year coach Jay Norvell, and they are second in the Mountain West with 268.3 yards passing per game. So don’t be surprised if the Rebels dare UNR to run and go all out to take away the pass.
5. The Rebels’ “X” factor.
That would be quarterback Armani Rogers. His return to the lineup in Friday’s 38-35 victory at New Mexico was an especially big boost to the running game. UNLV rushed for 323 yards in that game. The Rebels didn’t crack 200 yards in the three games Rogers was out with a concussion.