San Jose State (4-3) at UNLV (5-3) Nov. 2 4:00 CampusInsiders.com
Why You Should Give A Hoot: 2000. That was the last time UNLV went to a bowl game, and it was just the third bowl appearance in school history. With a win over San Jose State, the Rebels would be bowl eligible in what's turning into a tremendous breakthrough season under head coach Bobby Hauck, winning five of the last six games and with three of the last four at home.
San Jose State went bowling last year, but it's hardly old hat for a program with seven all-time bowl appearances, with the only other back-to-back bowl seasons in 1986 and 1987. Coming away with a win would make a post-season game almost a certainty. The Spartans have gotten hot at the right time, going on a three game winning streak including strong conference victories over Colorado State and Wyoming. There's plenty of time to get to six wins if it doesn't happen in Vegas, but the schedule isn't easy, even with three of the last four games at home, facing San Diego State, at Nevada, Navy and Fresno State, so it would take all the pressure off to get the sixth win now.
The two teams used to meet all the time back in the old days of the WAC, but they haven't played each other since 1997.
Why San Jose State Might Win: To beat San Jose State, you MUST get pressure on QB David Fales, and sacks aren't big at UNLV. The Rebels have only generated 11 on the year, and while it's had a few moments with some big plays, there haven't been enough of them. On the other side of the ball, the UNLV passing game is efficient, but not explosive. It's a dink-and-dunk attack, but an effective one, even though there aren't many big plays down the field. As long as the Spartans are able to wrap up and not allow yards after the catch, the D should be fine.
Why UNLV Might Win: The Rebels have been strong against the pass, and they'll need to lock down on Chandler Jones and weather the storm when Fales starts bombing. No. 1 in the Mountain West in pass efficiency defense, the Rebels allow the short-to-midrange throws, but they don't get torched on the deep ball all that often. The run defense has been the problem, but San Jose State doesn't pound away. The offense is all Fales, all the time, and ...
Who To Watch Out For: He has been sick. Fales missed practice this week after being under the weather, and while he was back late and he's good to go, he needed to get back up to speed. No quarterback in America is hotter than the senior, coming off a 482-yard day against Wyoming and with back-to-back 400-yard outing. In a groove, he has thrown for 300 yards or more in each of his last five games, and while picks have been a problem, he was error-free against Wyoming with five touchdown passes.
What Will Happen: UNLV has to run Tim Cornett and run some more, but the talent up front for SJSU -- Travis Raciti on the line and Keith Smith at linebacker -- will keep him in relative check. Fales won't throw for 400, but he'll be effective enough to get out of Vegas with a good win in a fun game.
Prediction: San Jose State 34 ... UNLV 30
Must See Rating: (5 All Is Lost -- 1 Storage Wars) ... 3