Armani Rogers remained on the UNLV sideline wearing a headset and signaling in plays rather than calling them.
Against Fresno State’s nationally ranked defense, it might not have mattered if the Rebels put in Armani Rogers, Aaron Rodgers or Mr. Rogers.
The No. 20 Bulldogs methodically dominated from start to finish, their defense not letting UNLV’s offense have much breathing room in a 48-3 victory over the Rebels on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The loss mathematically eliminated the Rebels (2-7, 0-5 Mountain West) from bowl eligibility, though that question was settled well into what now has become a six-game losing streak.
Fresno State (8-1, 5-0) not only is well on its way to the postseason — Las Vegas Bowl? — but the Bulldogs are in position to win the West Division. They play Boise State and San Diego State the next two weeks in games that will shape the conference races.
The Bulldogs entered this game tied with Mississippi State for fourth nationally in allowing 13.5 points per game, and they extended the streak of allowing opponents 30 points or fewer to 20 games, tops in the country.
UNLV gained 302 yards, with much of it coming after Fresno State had the game in hand. Fresno native Charles Williams did, however, rush for 121 yards on 16 carries.
“He ran the ball well,” Rebels coach Tony Sanchez said. “He ran the ball hard. He’s had a much better week of practice. The biggest thing for him is continuing to improve on pass (protection). He’s got to be 100 percent assignment sound on that, and that something we’ve really challenged him on the last couple of weeks, and he looked really good today.”
Quarterback Max Gilliam, who had thrown 12 touchdown passes over his previous four starts, completed 14 of 30 passes for 98 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
“They were a really good team, a really good defense, but I thought we could’ve played a lot better,” Gilliam said. “I could’ve played a lot better.”
Former Liberty High School star Kenyon Oblad made his college debut in the fourth quarter, and he can play the final four games and not lose his redshirt status. He completed 1 of 5 passes for seven yards.
Rogers hasn’t played since injuring a toe Sept. 22 at Arkansas State. He was cleared during the week, but coach Tony Sanchez said Rogers hadn’t received enough practice time because of the walking boot he was forced to wear.
“We all know how special of a player he is, and the worst thing we can do is put him in a bad and dangerous situation,” Sanchez said. “He looked good the last two days throwing the ball, but he had some discomfort. Watching him at practice and watching him run, it wasn’t there. What he does, that wasn’t going to be in the game plan.
“It’s still his team. As soon as he’s ready to go, he’ll still be the starter. Tonight, he wasn’t ready to go, and I wasn’t going to put him in that situation.”
Maybe Sanchez and his staff will turn to Rogers next Saturday when the Rebels play at San Diego State, a place where they haven’t won since 2000.
Fresno State wasted no time taking charge against UNLV, scoring less than five minutes into the game. If there were thoughts of a repeat of last season’s 26-16 upset victory by the Rebels, they were quickly vanquished.
Bulldogs quarterback Marcus McMaryion completed 26 of 35 passes for 274 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.