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Breaking down UNLV-Fresno State

Updated November 2, 2018 - 10:10 am

Quarterbacks

For the first time in more than a month, UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers (toe) has been cleared to play. But he will back up Max Gilliam, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes over the past three games. Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion is completing 70.4 percent his passes for 2,142 yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Running backs

The Bulldogs use a committee approach and have found some success in averaging 145.4 yards rushing per game. That’s about in line with what UNLV has produced without Rogers in the lineup, though Lexington Thomas (721 yards, 5.3 per carry) will be the best back on the field.

■ Advantage: UNLV

Receivers

Tyleek Collins is becoming a star for the Rebels. He caught nine passes for 170 yards Saturday at San Jose State, including all four touchdown throws. Two of his TDs went for 75 and 46 yards. Fresno State’s KeeSean Johnson already is a star, having caught 54 passes for 761 yards and six touchdowns. The Bulldogs also are deeper.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Offensive line

Fresno State has called 184 pass plays — and its quarterbacks were sacked just five times. Crazy. UNLV has given up 26 sacks, though the Rebels have been better run blockers in helping create a 5.2-yards-per-carry average compared to 4.0 for Fresno State.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Defensive line

This was one area where it was thought the Bulldogs could struggle. Not so much. They allow 3.4 yards per rush, and Mykal Walker has 9½ tackles for loss, including three sacks. UNLV allows 5.1 yards per rush.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Linebackers

Fresno State’s Jeff Allison, James Bailey and George Helmuth have combined for 13 tackles for loss, including 5½ sacks. They also are among the Bulldogs’ top four tacklers. Javin White and Bailey Laolagi have combined for 10 tackles (3½ sacks), but the Rebels’ struggles on that side of the ball compared to what Fresno State has accomplished makes it difficult to choose UNLV.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Secondary

The Rebels are giving up 254.4 yards passing per game, and their secondary has been ravaged by injuries. Fresno State is allowing a 187.4-yard average, and the Bulldogs have intercepted 14 passes and broken up 40 others. Cornerback Tank Kelly has 15 pass breakups and three interceptions.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Special teams

Neither side has stood out, except in two areas. UNLV’s Hayes Hicken averages 44.8 yards per punt. Fresno State has done a really good job on kick coverage, allowing opponents just 18.7-yard return average on kickoffs and 3.8 on punts.

■ Advantage: Fresno State

Intangibles

Fresno State would seem to have edge in confidence and with the revenge factor after losing 26-16 at home to UNLV last season. But this also is a trap game for the Bulldogs, who in the following two weeks face Boise State and San Diego State as they fight to appear in the Mountain West championship game. The Rebels really have nothing to lose, and they have the history of having won three of the past four meetings.

■ Advantage: UNLV

Handicapper’s take

■ Bruce Marshall (goldsheet.com):

Fresno State 48, UNLV 16 — At some point, prices might inflate too high for Fresno State, but we’ll keep riding the Bulldogs, now 17-3-2 versus the betting line for coach Jeff Tedford and seeking revenge at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV coach Tony Sanchez is now reduced to hoping he gets a mulligan for the injury to Rogers, as the Rebels have lost all four since he got hurt in what almost certainly appears a fifth straight bowl miss for UNLV.

More Rebels: Follow online at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sportson Twitter.

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

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