GAME DAY: USU football vs. UNLV preview

<strong>LOGAN—</strong> The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has certainly had its share of bad luck in football. The Rebels are 0-14 in road games under current head coach Bobby Hauck, and haven’t won a road game since 2009.

Despite opening with four straight home games, UNLV is off to a 1-3 start in 2012 – including a head-scratching loss to Northern Arizona. However, the Rebels do have some momentum as they are coming off their first win of the season in thrilling fashion, 38-35, over Air Force.

“They’ve got some confidence, they play with confidence, they play with some physicality on the offensive side,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “They’re throwing the ball well, and they’ve got some good wide receivers out there. The backs catch the ball, the tight ends catch the ball, so this is a good football team. We’ll have our hands full with these guys.”

Averaging 404.5 yards per game on offense – good for No. 66 in the nation – the Rebels offense revolves around its rushing attack, which is led by junior running back Tim Cornett who is averaging nearly 118 yards rushing per game. Cornett has led UNLV in rushing each of the past two seasons, and with 471 yards and four touchdowns through four games he is leading the Rebels once again.

Cornett has some help in the backfield as well, in the form of junior speedster Bradley Randle. The duo combined for 180 yards rushing and four touchdowns in their win over the Falcons.

Despite USU’s defense being one of the best in the country – ranked 11th and giving up only 274.74 total yards – Andersen said he is worried about the Rebels’ ability to bounce to the outside and break long runs.

“Offensively, they want to run the ball first. They have a powerful, physical run game with two very good backs. They’re a little bit different than each other, but they’re both powerful kids who run the ball well,” Andersen said. “They bounce the ball to the outside quite a bit. They’ve made some big plays in the run game by when it gets bottled up they have good vision and they bounce it outside and make some good plays.”

Through four games, the Rebels and the Aggies are identical in scoring offense, averaging 26.5 points per game. However, USU has seen a little stiffer competition going against the defenses of Utah and Wisconsin.

While the UNLV offense – quarterbacked by redshirt freshman Nick Sherry – has some bright spots, the Rebels’ defense has been suspect so far this year. UNLV is ranked in the bottom third of the FBS allowing more than 417 yards and nearly 30 points per game. The Rebels are especially poor in run defense, allowing more than 180 yards per game on he ground.

Regardless of how many points the USU offense is able to put up, however, it is the Aggie defense that will ultimately decide which direction this game will take. If USU is able to take away the running game like it has in its previous four contests, UNLV will be hard pressed to score enough points to win. To do that, the Aggies must play with more intensity than they did at Colorado State.

“The biggest thing for me is we were really flat, it felt really flat out there, and like coach Andersen said, we weren’t flying around like we normally fly around,” USU junior linebacker Zach Vigil said. “That’s one thing I want to do this week is make sure our intensity is there when we play Saturday.”

The game atmosphere should certainly have plenty of intensity as another large crowd is expected for a USU team that is off to its best start since 1978. The Aggies will also be having their first “whiteout,” which has generated a lot of excitement around town.

Saturday’s game will kickoff from Romney Stadium at 6 p.m., with pregame festivities beginning around 3 p.m. The game can be heard live on KVNU (610 AM/102.1 FM), KLZX (95.9 FM) and streamed live on <a target=”_blank” href=””></a>

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