Friday Night Lights
September 14, 2012
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WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS (1-1) at UNLV REBELS (0-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Washington State -8.5 & 55.5
Opening Line & Total: Cougars -11 & 55.5
Washington State looks to get its Air Raid offense into high gear when it visits UNLV on Friday night.
The Rebels are looking for payback after WSU's 59-7 drubbing in Pullman last season when the Cougars threw for 471 yards and seven touchdowns. Washington State is struggling to learn Mike Leach's new offense, with just 15.0 PPG and a narrow 24-20 win over 19½-point underdog Eastern Washington last week. Also, starting QB Jeff Tuel hurt his knee against EWU and will likely miss Friday's contest.
The Rebels, who allowed 40.4 PPG last year (3rd-most in FBS), are coming off a 17-14 home loss to FCS Northern Arizona, marking UNLV's 20th SU loss in the past 23 games (8-15 ATS). The Cougars should have little trouble beating this deficient UNLV team. Leach is 46-29 ATS (61%) on turf in his coaching career and Rebels coach Bobby Hauck is 0-8 ATS coming off a home defeat.
If Tuel can't suit up for this game, Connor Halliday takes over quarterbacking duties. The redshirt sophomore struggled after Tuel went down against Eastern Washington, completing 5-of-11 passes for 76 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT. Halliday also came off the bench in the blowout over UNLV last year, completing 5-of-6 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Halliday does have the weapons at receiver to aid his development, with Marquess Wilson and Isiah Myers, who co-lead the team with 108 receiving yards each. Wilson had 102 receiving yards and a touchdown in last year's meeting, while Myers scored twice against EWU last week.
The rushing offense has been non-existent though, as the Cougars' 51.5 rushing YPG rank fourth-worst in FBS. Overall, Washington State has just 290 total YPG, which ranks 111th in the nation. The defense also needs work, allowing 341 passing YPG (110th in FBS) in the first two contests.
UNLV is also having trouble getting any offense going with a mere 17.3 PPG (98th in FBS). However, freshman QB Nick Sherry played much better against Northern Arizona (16-of-29, 239 yards) than he did in the season-opening loss to Minnesota (30-27 in OT) when he was 16-of-35 for 116 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT. The Rebels best offensive strategy is to hand the ball off to junior RB Tim Cornett who ranks 10th in the nation with 268 rushing yards. He has scored three times and added 26 more yards on the receiving end.
Defensively, the Rebels have done a nice job pressuring the quarterback with five sacks, but are still allowing 383 total yards per game. The pass defense is giving up 233 yards per game, but is more seasoned that last year's unit that allowed nearly 500 passing yards in the loss to Washington State.
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