If the Rebel aren't careful in practice this week, their mascot (see above) just may have to suit up for the game. The UNLV Rebels currently have more than a dozen starters out with injury. An already weak team had been absolutely decimated. Against the #4 ranked TCU Horned Frogs, UNLV played with 7 true freshmen on defense. That's all the bad news. The silver lining is that the young group of Coach Mauck recruits seem to be able to hold their own at times, which could mean that after years of drought Rebel fans may have a glimmer of hope on the horizen.
So what about this week's game in Provo? Is there something exciting to be seen in Lavell Edwards Stadium?Sadly, there is. As good as the BYU defense is playing right now, the offense is simply non existent. In fact, in a lot of statistical catagories the BYU Cougars are worse than the 1-7 Rebels. What BYU does have, however, that the Rebels do not possess is a re-vamped and deadly defense.
Over the past 3 weeks Cougar fans have witnessed one of the most remarkable and immediate turnarounds in college football. By merely replacing the defensive coordinator and going back to true BYU D basics, BYU is finally playing good football, at least on one side of the ball.
So what do we expect from a game that pits a mediocre team against a terrible team? The Las Vegas experts have their own Rebels as 19.5 point underdogs to the Cougars. I am not buying that. In fact, I wanted to call Vegas tonght and throw down some Benajmins on UNLV. If I learned anything from the Wyoming game it is that, even against a horrific opponent, the BYU offense can give up points both directly and indirectly, a lot quicker than the BYU defense can.
Remember all that back against the wall, wounded bear talk when the Cougars took on Brady Hoke's San Diego St. Aztecs? Yeah, I see a lot of that here with UNLV. What do they have to lose? Certainly not more players. The BYU defense and offense should be prepared for anything and everything, because there will be some new pages in that UNLV play book this week.
As if being 1-7 weren't enough motivation to beat BYU there is the matter of a little rivalry between the two schools. We used to joke that going to UNLV was just playing at Lavell Edwards Stadium Las Vegas. BYU has only lost 3 games on the turf in Vegas, two of those were bowl games to PAC 10 teams. In the overall series BYU has won 13 of 16 games against UNLV. The last two times UNLV won were at BYU, so they have that going for them. But I don't see this year going the way of teh Rebels. In what UNLV officials are saying will be the last meeting betweent the two teams, at least in the intermediate future, the Rebels will be leaving Provo with a sour taste in their mouth, and no chance at revenge.
BYU 37 v UNLV 19