UNLV Playing Thursday for Bowl Eligibility at Air Force
UNLV Playing Thursday for Bowl Eligibility at Air Force
By Wayne Root:
Before the 2013 college football season began, there were very few who were expecting the UNLV Rebels to make a run at bowl eligibility. The season was supposed to be another disaster under respected but outmatched head coach Bobby Hauck. The markets only had them winning a few games. Most summer magazines had them battling for the divisional cellar with Hawaii.
Instead, the team currently finds itself at 5-5, needing one more win to clinch bowl eligibility. They just missed doing that vs. superior San Jose State and Utah State squads. A sense of urgency is truly kicking in with these two games left.
- UNLV at Air Force (0-6 in the Mountain West, 2-8 this season)
- UNLV vs. San Diego State (5-1 in the Mountain West, 6-4 this season)
Obviously, THURSDAY'S game at Air Force represents the best shot to get that sixth victory. UNLV is facing an opponent that's winless in league play and already eliminated from bowl consideration. If Air Force is going to get up for anybody...it's more likely state rival Colorado State next week rather than UNLV Thursday.
That being said...oddsmakers and bettors are far from certain that UNLV can get the job done. In fact, as I write this, the game is just pick-em! UNLV still gets no respect! In a must-win game against an 0-6 team the Rebels are only pick-em!
Will UNLV finish off a SHOCK THE SYSTEM run at a stunning bowl appearance with a victory at Air Force Thursday Night? Or, will the horror show of BLOWING a 5-3 start and not reaching the postseason continue?
You regulars know I can't post official selections here in my blog articles. That information is for paying clients. I'll be happy to tell you what's impressed me most about this year's local Cinderella story, as well as causes for concern about their remaining games.
I really like what Caleb Herring has brought to the quarterback position this year. He's far from an elite quarterback. But, he's found the right mix as a run-pass quarterback who typically avoids making bad mistakes in the air while racing out to gobble up free yards on the ground when they're being offered. His TD/INT ratio his year is 17/4....which is amazing for THIS program.
That being said, Herring has become more mistake prone in the team's recent high pressure losses to San Jose State and Utah State. His ratio is 4/3 in those two games, after being 13/1 beforehand. He's at his best vs. soft opposition, which could mean trouble against San Diego State or in a bowl game.
I love the fighting spirit of this year's group. I can't tell you how many times since I moved out West many years ago that locals have seen this team throw in the towel. Once they give up, things get very ugly. This year's group doesn't give up! Despite a poor start against Minnesota and Arizona, when the team missed the Vegas spread by 14 and 29 points, they didn't give up and kept right on battling. They would win and cover five of their next six games.
What they have in spirit they lack in size and tackling ability. This is still a soft defense, one that's allowed at least 440 total yards in the last six games. And, most troubling for anyone thinking about backing UNLV Thursday Night at Air Force...the RUN defense is very inconsistent. They allowed 312 rushing yards to San Jose State, and a whopping 497 rushing yards to the option attack of New Mexico. Air Force runs the same style of offense as New Mexico!
Picking Thursday Night's game really comes down to this:
Will motivated UNLV use a huge emotional advantage against a lame duck opponent to grab the win that puts them in a bowl game?
Will UNLV's poor run defense be unable to keep the Air Force option attack out of the end zone, as the noose tightens on a team that might be afraid they're going to choke away their bowl berth?
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is known as THE KING OF LAS VEGAS because I specialize in tricky games like this! You can purchase my top plays for Thursday (and every day) right here at this website with your credit card. Be sure to check out full seasonal packages where you get the most bang for your buck. If you have any questions or seek guidance in finding the program that best suits your individual needs...talk to my representative in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-877-ROOT-WINS. Remember to ask about basketball when you call!
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