SDSU vs UNLV Preview: State’s First Look at the MWC in 2016

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Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State (3-1) vs UNLV (2-3)

Saturday October 8, 7:30 pm PST on ESPNU

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

Last week, San Diego State lost a very Chargers-eque type of game, collapsing in the fourth quarter. After holding a lead for most of the game, the team made two huge errors leading to touchdowns that cost them the game. They come into this one looking to redeem themselves at home with their first conference game of the season against the Rebels.

UNLV has not looked great so far this season. They’re coming off a big conference game victory over Fresno State though, and have some momentum. Freshman quarterback Dalton Sneed impressed everyone last Saturday, putting up 147 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.

Tha Aztecs look to start another winning streak this week as they continue their quest for a back to back conference championship.

What to watch for

Look for SDSU to come out of the gates swinging. Last weekend was a true embarrassment against a team they should have easily beaten. The Aztecs are looking to pull off their 21st conference championship this season, so expect them to send a message to the rest of the conference in their first MWC game.

UNLV, however, is coming off a huge 45-20 victory over another Mountain West team, so look for them to try to show the rest of the conference that they are on an upswing. The match should be intriguing, but the Aztecs superior athleticism should win out.

Sneed vs Aztec Defense

Last week, Rebel quarterback Dalton Sneed threw for a total of 129 yards and a touchdown while completing eight of his 16 passing attempts. He also managed to put up another touchdown and 147 more yards with his feet. He proved he is a dual threat in his first career start. Look for him to try to expand his game against the Aztec defense. Meanwhile, the defense will be looking to shut him down in any way possible. It will be a tough task to slow down this mobile QB. The Aztecs defense will likely have a spy shadow Sneed and not allow him to make a big play with his feet.

Boyd vs Kazee

Devonte Boyd is UNLV’s top target receiver. He has 18 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns this season. Kazee, who did not have the best game last week, is going to have to build on a bad game and look to prove he is still a lockdown defensive back. The speedy corner should have a good game as Sneed is not known for his ability to make precise throws downfield.

X Factors

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Conference Champions

The Aztecs are the defending conference champions, so they hold the belt. They have been widely picked to blow the conference out of the water again, and regain the Mountain West Title. This can be an x factor for both SDSU and UNLV. SDSU is confident that they are the top dogs in the conference. This gives UNLV something to fight for. When you have a target on your back, teams play a little tougher. The Aztecs will have to impose their will on the Rebels and not allow them to stay in the game.

Run Defense 

Always an x factor in every game he plays in, is D.J. Pumphrey. Even during an embarrassing loss, he still managed to put up over 100 rushing yards and another touchdown. But the Rebels have one of the top-50 run defenses in the country. Certainly, this is the  highest ranked run-defense State has faced thus far. If there’s any defense that can slow down Pumphrey, it would be this one. So let’s watch and see how well they hold up.

My Predictions

UNLV has struggled to hold off higher producing offenses this season. I’m predicting they will struggle here as well. With so many offensive weapons at their disposal, SDSU will be able to put up big numbers like they usually do. UNLV’s top-10 rushing offense will be able to put up numbers on the Aztec defense, but not nearly enough to hold them off. SDSU will pull away from them in the fourth quarter and win it 42-30.

Bold Prediction

Freshman QB Sneed will be held off through the air, but put up 150 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Pumphrey will out-leg the speedy quarterback and put up 250 yards and add three more touchdowns to his season total.

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