UNLV isn’t the only team heading into this weekend facing questions at quarterback.
Northwestern’s Hunter Johnson, a Clemson transfer, must bounce back from a tough debut in a 17-7 loss at Stanford on Aug. 31.
Johnson struggled so much that he was replaced by TJ Green, who was more effective, completing 6 of 10 passes for 62 yards. Green then suffered a season-ending foot injury in the second half, Johnson re-entered the game, finishing 6 of 17 for 55 yards with two interceptions.
Now the offense is all Johnson’s as Northwestern prepares to welcome UNLV at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Evanston, Illinois.
“Just like every other player does through experience, he’s going to get better,” Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “I have 100 million percent confidence in that, if that’s actually a word.”
Johnson said he had similar games as a freshman and sophomore in high school. “You learn from it and you grow from it, and you become a better player because of it,” said Johnson, who develped into the nation’s top prep quarterback in the 2017 class, according to ESPN.
Handling adversity, Johnson said, is “part of playing the position. … The team needs me to respond, and that’s what I plan to do.”
Twenty years since “Wonder of Waco”
Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of the craziest and most dramatic play in UNLV history.
Baylor had victory wrapped up in the Sept. 11, 1999 game in Waco, Texas, and simply needed to go into victory formation as the clock wound down. The Rebels didn’t have any timeouts. But first-year Baylor coach Kevin Steele wanted to establish an aggressive mindset and called for running back Darrell Bush to try to score from the 8-yard line.
He nearly did, but UNLV linebacker Tyler Brickell forced a fumble that bounced to cornerback Kevin Thomas in the end zone. Thomas scooped up the ball and bolted down the left sideline 100 yards untouched for the winning touchdown.
UNLV became the first team to win a game on the final play when it was behind and didn’t have the ball.
“They tried to run it down our throat and run the score up, but that’s what you get for not running out the clock,” UNLV running back Jeremi Rudolph said after the game. “KT made a hell of a play.”
Game to be televised locally
Cox Cable customers who wondered why the Big Ten Network lists the Georgia Southern-Minnesota game in place of UNLV’s trip to Northwestern can apparently relax. BTN spokesman Ryan Sullivan said there was an error in the listings that would be fixed.
DirecTV viewers will get the Georgia Southern-Minnesota game on their primary BTN channel, but UNLV-Northwestern will be on secondary channel 610-1.
UNLV personnel updates
UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said Monday that tight end Giovanni Fauolo would be doubtful with an injured ankle. But on Wednesday, Sanchez said it turns out Fauolo has a foot injury and will be available.
Backup running backs Courtney Reese (ankle) and Chad Magyar (personal issue) remain out, but fellow back Biaggio Ali Walsh (back) is expected to be available.
■ Who: UNLV at Northwestern
■ When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
■ Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.
■ TV: Big Ten Network
■ Radio: KWWN (1100 AM, 100.9 FM)
■ Line: Northwestern -18½; total 53½