Published Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 | 5:41 p.m.
In the first half, UNLV gave up 35 points while its offense completed only one pass, a combination that can only end in a blowout victory. The Rebels dropped to 3-5 overall and 2-2 in Mountain West play with a 42-23 loss to Colorado State (4-4, 2-2) today at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Rebels’ defensive line was dominated the entire game and without any threat through the air, Colorado State’s defense successfully defended the run and didn’t allow UNLV to have the ball hardly at all in the first half. The time of possession finished 39:37-20:23 in CSU’s favor.
UNLV quarterback Dalton Sneed went 7-of-23 for 185 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The bulk of that production came after the outcome was already effectively decided, and outside of Sneed’s scrambling (96 rushing yards) the Rebels couldn’t accomplish much on the ground either.
This was an ugly loss in which UNLV was dominated. The good news is next week’s game at San Jose State is a decent opportunity to bounce back with a victory.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from today’s defeat.
The Rebels have a chance to build some real momentum this weekend when they host Colorado State at 2:38 p.m. today in Sam Boyd Stadium.
UNLV (3-4, 2-1) has won two out of three and could take a big step toward bowl eligibility with a victory in today’s game, which will air on Root Sports and stream on UNLVRebels.com. Colorado State (3-4, 1-2) is looking to take the same step forward, and it’s very possible that whichever team loses today will be home during the postseason.
UNLV redshirt freshman quarterback Dalton Sneed bounced back nicely from the San Diego State defeat with a line of 19-of-27 for 279 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers plus another 61 yards on the ground. Some of those same opportunities should be there against a CSU defense that ranks just a little better than Hawaii.
The Rams give up 191.6 yards per game on the ground and 234.1 yards per game through the air. In league games, though, CSU is allowing 248.7 rushing yards per game and its total defense (446.3 yards allowed per game) is the second worst in the Mountain West.
As always, turnovers are an important aspect here, but if the Rebels avoid those they should have ample opportunities to score.
Colorado State junior Nick Stevens is looking to make the most of his second chance, and considering the Rams quarterback tossed four touchdowns against UNLV last season, that could be a problem for the Rebels.
Stevens, a second-team All-Mountain West pick last year, was benched for poor play in the first game of the season (6-of-20 and two picks vs. Colorado) and wouldn’t have gotten another chance if not for a season-ending injury to freshman Collin Hill. In his first start back, Stevens went 17-of-31 for 189 yards and two touchdowns, although those numbers are a little misleading considering CSU scored all three of its touchdowns in the final five minutes of a 28-23 loss at Boise State.
The Rams are a hard team to figure out right now, but one thing that should be clear to UNLV’s defense is that CSU is capable of quickly pouncing on any letdown. Overall, CSU’s total offense ranks seventh in the league (401.3 yards per game), one spot below UNLV.
Sophomore Evan Pantels is 6-for-6 on field goals, including the 28-yard game-winner in the final minute last week at Hawaii, and his punting has steadily improved throughout the season, giving UNLV a solid replacement for former punter Logan Yunker.
The Rebels were able to use Yunker as a weapon last season — he was as important as any other individual in last year’s victory at UNR — and Pantels has proved capable of the same. His punt average has climbed up to 42.3 yards per kick and he has pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line eight times with only two touchbacks.
Replacing a punter is often an afterthought in the offseason but it can have a big impact on the season. UNLV coach Tony Sanchez brought Pantels in this year from Georgia Military College, and so far it has paid big dividends.
CSU junior defensive back Justin Sweet played for Sanchez at Bishop Gorman High while Rams freshman defensive lineman Anthony Smith played at Desert Pines High, where he missed his senior season with an ACL injury.
”He’s got the ball. There’s no plan right now to get Kurt in at a specific time.”
— Sanchez on Sneed, who’s currently the unquestioned No. 1 with junior Kurt Palandech as the backup and junior Johnny Stanton (knee) who’s available as an emergency option
While interceptions have been an issue for UNLV’s offense this season, the Rebels still lead the country in fumbles lost with only one all year.
UNLV 24, Colorado State 21
(2-4 ATS, 4-2 SU, 3-3 O/U)
Colorado State 31, UNLV 27
(4-2 ATS, 5-1 SU, 1-5 O/U)
Colorado State 33, UNLV 26
(2-4 ATS, 5-1 SU, 1-5 O/U)