When UNLV is running the ball: UNLV has a running game that has been almost as inept as the Rams’ this season. And while the Rams seem to be set on Gartrell Johnson, the Rebels have not been as concrete with a starting back. UNLV’s official depth chart doesn’t even list a starter on it. Both David Peeples and Erick Jackson have had exactly 40 carries this season and either one could start for the Rebels. As far as the Rams’ rushing defense goes, there is no reason they cannot repeat the effort of last week. CSU held Fresno State’s all-conference back Dwayne Wright to under 80 yards rushing and look to hold the Rebel backs to the same numbers.
When UNLV is throwing the ball: Just like the Rams, UNLV has produced much better numbers throwing the ball than rushing it. However, a further look into those stats reveals a weak spot in the Rebel passing game. Despite being ranked in the upper third in Division-1 football, most of those yards were gained in the Rebels’ game against D-1AA Idaho State. In their three games against upper-division foes, UNLV has not performed. The Rams are coming off a three-interception performance and seem primed for a repeat performance against quarterback Rocky Hinds.
When CSU is running the ball: There are only so many words to describe CSU’s running game during its non-conference schedule, so I’ll let the numbers do the talking. CSU is 112th out of 119 D-1A teams in rushing yards, Gartrell Johnson is 459 out of the 511 NCAA running backs who have at least one touch in yards per carry, and Johnson is also the only running back in the nation to have at least 50 carries and under 200 yards. Maybe this will be the game that Johnson breaks out, but don’t hold your breath.
When CSU is throwing the ball: Caleb Hanie is coming off another consistent and impressive effort with three touchdowns and no picks thrown against Fresno State. UNLV’s pass defense hasn’t played very well in their first four games, which is evident by their ranking of 102nd in the nation in pass defense. Expect Hanie to have another efficient day at the stadium with him finishing the day with at least two passing touchdowns.
Prediction: On paper, this game seems like a blowout. UNLV is coming off two straight trouncings at the hands of Nevada and Hawaii and the Rams look good coming off their five touchdown performance in Fresno. But the games are played on the field, not on paper, so anything can happen. That having been said, look for Sonny Lubick to continue his dominance over UNLV. Lubick is 9-1 against the Rebels as the Rams’ head coach.
CSU 31, UNLV 14
Sports Editor Mike Donovan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.