Fresno State Bulldogs vs UNLV Rebels (11/11 @ 10:30 PM EST)
Spread: Fresno -9.5
Money Line: Fresno St -360 / UNLV +280
Overview and Betting Info
The division-leading Fresno State Bulldogs (5-4) head to Sin City Friday night for a matchup against the UNLV Rebels (4-5). The Bulldogs own the series lead 17-7 and have won their last four meetings. Fresno State is 4-1 in the Mountain West, while UNLV has gone 2-3.
Fresno State is 3-6 against the spread this season, going 2-4 when they’ve been the favorite. They’ve gone over the point total five times this season, including in four of their previous five games. They have won their last 4 games.
UNLV is 4-5 versus the spread, going 2-2 at home. They’ve gone over just four times this season, including twice in their previous five games. They have lost their last four games.
Fresno State Bulldogs
The Bulldog’s offense averages 409.9 yards per game (1st in MWC), led by standout quarterback Jake Haener. The senior has only played in 4.5 games this season but has still managed an impressive 1,575 yards and eleven touchdowns. He’s been electric through the air, going for over 325 yards in all four games he played from start to finish. What’s more impressive is that he’s doing it accurately, completing 74% of his passes. He relies on the receiving duo of Jalen Moreno-Cropper (671 yards, 3 TD) and Nikko Remigio to form a passing game that leads the conference in yards and touchdowns. Keep an eye on Josh Kelly Friday as he returned from injury last week. He had 778 yards last season and added another layer to a passing game that is already the best in the Mountain West.
The Bulldogs have running back Jordan Mims in the backfield again this season. He’s having a career year with 800 yards and nine touchdowns. The back has gone for over 120 yards in two of his last three games and should do it again against a questionable UNLV defense. When he’s not on the field, Fresno has sophomore Malik Sherrod who is averaging almost six yards per carry (55 carries, 321 yards)
The Bulldog’s defense has underwhelmed all season, allowing 363.3 yards per game. They’ve been improving over their last four games, holding teams to 13 or fewer points three times. Their resurgence has been led by defensive end David Perales (8.5 sacks) and cornerback Bralyn Lux (2 sacks, 6 PD, 1 INT). While UNLV has struggled to generate points recently, they now have their starting quarterback back and healthy. While the quarterback didn’t wow anyone last week, he had the UNLV offense among the country’s best before his injury.
The Rebel’s offense averages 347.9 yards (5th in MWC) per game despite injury issues at quarterback. Sophomore starter Doug Brumfield returned last week, bringing stability back to the position. He has 1,438 passing yards and 14 combined touchdowns (9 passing, 5 rushing). While he doesn’t stand out on the stat sheet, he has led the Rebels to have a top-three passing offense in the conference. He’s helped by his favorite target, receiver Ricky White. He dominates and leads the team in receptions (44), yards (547), and touchdowns (4). We’ll also be keeping an eye on deep-threat Nick Williams, who caught a critical 70-yard touchdown last week and is averaging 16.2 yards per catch.
Running back Aidan Dobbins leads the Rebel backfield with 706 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s a workhorse that doesn’t break many big plays but instead grinds down defenses. He’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry. While he leads a run attack that ranks in the bottom half of the conference, Dobbins and Brumfield are both dangerous in the red zone. While he doesn’t get many carries, the Bulldogs will need to keep an eye on backup Courtney Reese, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on 49 rushes.
The UNLV defense, like Fresno, has been underwhelming this season. They’ve allowed the third most touchdowns in the conference, third most rushing yards, and are giving up the second most yards per pass. They allow 377 yards per game, but they have successfully generated turnovers. Their 13 interceptions lead the conference, thanks partly to standout cornerback Nohl Williams (5 PD, 3 INT). The Rebels will again rely heavily on linebacker Austin Ajiake who leads the team in tackles (88) to go along with three sacks and two interceptions. If the Rebels want to win (or even cover), they’ll need their playmakers to continue to generate turnovers against a brutal Fresno pass attack.
Free Pick: Over 60.5
We expect the Bulldogs to win, but we see it being closer than the line shows. This UNLV team is much different with Brumfield at quarterback. Before his injury, he was 4-1 and had the offense averaging 37.8 points per game. While he couldn’t replicate that last week, it was also his first game since September. With a game under his belt and a bad Fresno defense coming to town, this offense should be ready to return to their early-season form. On the other side of the ball, we expect Fresno State to put up 40 points now that Haener is back in the saddle. This will be a more entertaining game than the lines show, so we’re taking the over Friday night.