New Mexico vs. UNLV: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
An unexpected big time game
Can the Lobos pull it off?
WEEK 5: UNLV Rebels (3-1)1-0 versus the UNM Lobos (2-2) 0-1
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 30 at 11 p.m. ET
WHERE: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
WEATHER: 93F-69F Allegiant is a domed stadium
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: FuboTV - get a free trial
RADIO: 77KOB Lobo Radio Network ESPN 1100 AM & 100.9 FM
Rob Portnoy (play-by-play), Dontrell Moore (analyst)
SERIES RECORD: UNLV leads 13-12
LAST WEEK: UNM loss to LSU 38-0 UNLV win over UTAH State 34-24
MWC rivals will clash when the UNLV Rebels (3-1) meet the New Mexico Lobos (2-1) this Saturday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Danny Gonzales Lobos will go on the road to take on the hottest team in the Mountain West Conference, the UNLV-running rebels.
The Lobos is coming off a 38-0 loss at LSU in front of over 100,000 fans, a game in which UNM struggled on offense to the tune of two first downs and 88 total yards.
UNLV is coming off a 34-24 win at the home of defending Mountain West Champion Utah State, a game in which the Rebels forced six turnovers, including five interceptions of Logan Bonner.
This should be a fun game to watch as one of the best offensive teams averaging 41.3 in the conference take on Rocky Long's 3-3-5
The Lobos, who were dead last in offensive production last year, has improved despite last week's shutout at LSU.
The Lobo last year lost to the Rebels 31-17, and this was Rebel head coach Marcus Arroyo's first win as head coach after losing 14 games in a row at home.
UNLV is one of the hottest offenses in the Rebels, taking on the best defenses in the Mountain West Conference.
The Mountain West No. 1 scoring offense has been responsible for their best start since 2008.
So, it is the battle between Lobos Defensive Coordinators Rocky Long's 3-3-5 Defense versus Offensive Coordinators Nick Holtz for the most part.
The Lobo defense vs. the UNLV offense certainly gets top billing here. "I think it's a great matchup," said head coach Danny Gonzales. "We have players in the secondary that are aggressive, and they have something to prove after Saturday. I know they are excited to go out there and compete, and I know that UNLV's kids are excited to go out there and compete, so it will be a great opportunity."
This Lobo offense under the Offensive Coordinator scored 27.3 points per game before the LSU game and is hoping to get back in offensive rhythm against the Rebels.
Because the game is played on Astroturf at Allegiant Stadium, look for a faster game, especially with the Lobo's speedy running backs.
The Rebels enter the game ranked third in the turnover margin at +2.25 per game, recording ten takeaways (nine interceptions) and one fumble lost.
The Lobos rank fifth nationally with +1,75 takeaways with 11 takeaways and four giveaways, so look for something to give with one of the teams.
How the Lobos can come away from Sin City with a Victory!
- Rocky Long Defense will bring the heat.
Offense wins games, Defense wins Championships, or so they say. This Lobo offense, minus last week's LSU game, has played stellar.
The New Mexico Lobos are ranked fourth in the Mountain West in total yards (355.5) and third in rushing yards per game (110.8). This Rocky Long defense has held their opponents to 14 or fewer points in three of the four games they have played.
The New Mexico Lobos are playing outstanding Defense and seem to be learning what head Coach Danny Gonzales expects of them.
They held UTEP to only 10 points two weeks ago; last week's game was to be expected with a 35-point spread against SEC foe LSU.
The Rebels like to run more than pass, which is ideal for the strength of the Lobos's Defense at stopping the run.
It's the Lobo defense of old when Rocky Long was the head coach; players play physical, fly to the ball, and go through a brick wall for Danny Gonzales. There is no doubt the Lobos take great pride in making the other team feel every play and know they came to play this violent game called football.
They limit opponents to 111 rushing yards per game, ranking them 37th in the FBS in rush defense. Also, I expect the Lobos offense to break out. They have played against solid defensive teams so far; however, the Rebels' Defense can be solved. They have squandered at least 20 points in all four games, making it challenging to cover this significant 14-point spread.
Look for Long to bring lots of blitzes that will counter this potent offense, and the UNLV backfield has taken some terrible negative plays, ranking in the bottom 20 in sacks and tackles for loss.
That can be an issue against New Mexico, who has a formidable defensive line, top 20 in those same two metrics on the defensive side of the ball.
- Lobo offense to finally break out.
At some point in the season, you expect this offense to have a breakout game where they can be less predictable, use the talent in the backfield, and have potent receivers who must score some points.
The head coach made it noticeably clear at last week's game, where LSU held the Lobos to just two first downs and 80 total yards; he told the offensive coordinator and staff in noticeably clear, concise terms, "It's not good enough, it's not good enough."
Coaches are pretty sharp and know what that means, especially in the world of college football; nothing personal, but we need performance to get better.
So, this staff is highly motivated to get this Lobo offense going and open it up more.
The Lobos offense is not often finding the end zone; they are averaging 20.5, 129.3 yards per rushing, ranking them 99th among D1 programs.
It's not like they don't have the talent if one looks at the roster; between running backs, receivers, and the offensive line is looking stronger at this time of year.
You have seen spurts of this during the season and in certain games; it's just having not been in long enough spurts to score and give the Defense a rest.
Offensive Coordinator Derek Warehime must be patient with his game plan to run the ball between the tackles, this is not the LSU defense front.
And in saying that, knowing when to take your deep shots to your receiving core. The Lobos worked on this in spring ball, taking deep shots.
That being said, what about your tight ends that were effective last year, know when to throw to them for chunks of yards.
I think sometimes coaches forget who they have on their roster and why they were recruited to the team!
- Play a Smart football game on the road
The Lobos must continue to play smart football, especially on the road in a hostile environment there at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
There is just something about playing on the road in a loud setting, with the distractions of Las Vegas, where young athletes can be less than focused.
The Lobo staff must do all they can to keep these young men focused on winning their first conference, Mountain West Conference football game.
Every penalty on the road also seems to be magnified much more, and its effects on the game. Competent football teams that play well and minimize mistakes tend to come out with more wins than losses.
No blocked punts, off-sides, holding calls, or personal fouls can take big chunks of yards backward.
It seems that it's just a culmination of small things during a competitive football game that can determine the game's outcome.
When you are the visiting team, there has to be a combined effort by the entire team not to beat themselves by silly fouls and make your opponent put them in a position to win the game.
This game is crucial to the Lobos, or if you ever had a game that you need some serious incentive, this is the game. The Lobos still have only one loss and can go bowling this year if they can right the ship and get more balanced on both sides of the ball.
This UNLV Lobo game is always a tremendous competitive match; you can see years of games proving this. My prediction is that this Defense that has been stellar against the run will once again stop a rushing attack or at least minimize it, and you can get there will be lots of Lobos behind the line of scrimmage; watch for the pressure to come.
With that being said, the Lobo offense scores but doesn't have to score many points with this Defense to get the Lobos's first Mountain West victory for 2022 for head coach Danny Gonzales and the entire Lobo football team.
UNM 34, UNLV 31
More Week 5!
Wyoming vs. San Jose State: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
New Mexico at UNLV: Keys to A Rebels Win , How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
SDSU vs. Boise State: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire