Mountain West College Football Betting Picks: UNLV Rebels at Air Force Falcons

UNLV Rebels at Air Force Falcons
Falcon Stadium – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Thursday, November 21, 2013, 9:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU
Opening Line: Air Force Pick
Current Line: Air Force -2
Opening Total: 61
Current Total: 59 1/2
Opening Money Line: UNLV -112 / Air Force +108
Current Money Line: Air Force -130 / UNLV +110

UNLV is a one point underdog at Air Force Thursday. The Rebels can become bowl eligible with a win.
UNLV is a two point underdog at Air Force Thursday. The Rebels can become bowl eligible with a win.

The 5-5 UNLV Rebels look to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2000 and only the fourth time in program history as they travel to the 2-8 Air Force Falcons Thursday night. The Rebels are 3-3 in the Mountain West West Division and the Falcons are 0-6 in Mountain Division. Air Force leads the series 13-5 against UNLV including 7-1 in Colorado Springs. The Rebels won 38-35 last year in Las Vegas.

UNLV is coached by Bobby Hauck. The Rebels have road losses at Minnesota 51-23, and Fresno State 38-14, along with home losses to Arizona 58-13, San Jose State 34-24, and two weeks ago against Utah State 28-24. UNLV has home wins over Central Michigan 31-21, Western Illinois 38-7, and Hawaii 39-37, along with road wins at New Mexico 56-42 and  Nevada 27-22. The Rebels are 6-4 ATS and the total is 5-5 this season. UNLV was a 16.5 point underdog against Utah State and the total was 56.5.

UNLV took a 17-14 halftime lead against Utah State two weeks ago. The Aggies regained the lead late in the third 21-17. The Rebels took a a 24-21 lead early in the fourth. Utah State would go up 28-24 with 3:56 left in the game. UNLV had one final frive and got inside the Aggie 10 but were unable to score. UNLV had one turnover but it was an interception in the end zone when they were on the Utah State one yard line. The Aggies had 2 interceptions. Utah State had 441 total yards including 298 passing. UNLV had 402 total yards including 150 rushing yards.

UNLV is being outscored 34-29 this season. The Rebels are #99 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. UNLV is averaging 421.4 yards per game including 249.8 passing and 171.6 rushing yards. On defense, the Rebels are allowing 461 yards per game including 225.5 passing and 235.5 rushing yards. UNLV is #107 in total defense and #116 in rush defense. The Rebels are +4 in turnovers with 16 takeaways. UNLV averages 32 penalty yards per game and opponents average 50. The Rebels are 68/175 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 83/182. UNLV has forced 16 sacks and allowed 18 this season. The Rebels are 32/41 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdown, and opponents are 29/36 with 22 touchdowns. UNLV has allowed six defensive special teams touchdowns this season.

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring has completed 63% of his passes for 2,111 yards with 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 91 carries, 197 yards and 2 touchdowns. He took over for the ineffective Nick Sherry early in the season. Sherry has thrown for 337 yards with 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Running back Tim Cornett has 200 carries for 970 yards with 11 touchdowns, along with 26 catches for 133 yards. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence has 39 carries for 364 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 64 yards. Adonis Smith has 22 carries for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 7 catches for 46 yards. Receiver Devante Davis has 63 catches, 948 yards and 10 touchdowns. Marcus Sullivan has 36 catches, 412 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 4 carries for 77 yards and a rushing touchdown. Maika Mataele has 32 catches, 371 yards and 3 touchdowns. Taylor Barnhill has 15 catches and two touchdowns. Anthony Williams and Jake Phillips each have a touchdown catch. Receiver Jerry Rice, Jr. has 10 catches but is questionable with a leg injury. Counting the running backs, nine Rebels have at least ten catches. Three offensive linemen and two defenders are listed as questionable or out.

Air Force is coached by Troy Calhoun. The Falcons have gone to a bowl game in each of the six seasons Calhoun has been the coach. However, that streak will come to an end this season as the Falcons already have eight losses. Air Force has home wins over Colgate 38-13 and against Army 42-28. The Army win snapped a seven game losing streak for Air Force. The Falcons have home losses to Utah State 52-20, Wyoming 56-23, San Diego State 27-20 and Notre Dame 45-10, along with road losses at Boise State 42-20, at Nevada 45-42, at Navy 28-10 and two weeks ago at New mexico 45-37. The Falcons are 3-7 ATS and the total is 6-4 this season. Air Force was a 3 point underdog at New Mexico and the total was 61.

New Mexico took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against Air Force. The Lobos would lead 21-14 at halftime. Each team scored 14 points in the third quarter to make is 35-28 Lobos. The Falcons scorted on the first play of the fourth quarter but the extra point was blocked to make it 35-34. New Mexico scored 10 straight to make it 45-34. Air Force kicked a field goal with 1:25 left to make it 45-37. The Falcons were unable to recover the onside kick and New Mexico took a knee to run out the clock. New Mexico had 479 total yards including 451 rushing yards. Air Force had 445 total yards including 257 rushing yards. It isn’t very often that the triple option Falcons have 160 more passing yards than their opponents but it happened here as Air Force passed for 188 yards to New Mexico’s 28. Neither team had a turnover.

Air Force is being outscored 38-26 in 2013. Air Force is #80 nationally in scoring and #114 in points allowed out of 125 teams. The Falcons are averaging 383.4 yards per game including 277 rushing and 106.4 passing yards. Not surprisingly, the Falcons are #11 in rushing nationally and the passing game is #123. The Falcons are #84 in total offense. Air Force is giving up 478.3 yards per game including 234 passing and 244.3 rushing yards. Air Force is #113 or worse in total and rush defense.  The Falcons are -3 in turnovers with 8 takeaways. Air Force is 78/163 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 89/152. The Falcons are averaging 37 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 37.  Air Force is 31/33 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns and opponents are 41/46 with 39 touchdowns. The Falcons have forced 11 sacks and allowed 6. Air Force has not scored or allowed a defensive/special teams touchdown this season.

Quarterback Kale Pearson tore his ACL in the first game of the year and is out for the season. Back-up Jaleel Awini threw  for 275 yards in 4 games with no touchdowns and a pick, along with 220 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. However he was suspended indefinitely for violating the Academy’s honor code.  Karson Roberts started  a few games but missed the last two games with a concussion. He is questionable Thursday night. Roberts has thrown for 219 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 picks, along with 42 carries, 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nate Romine has taken significant snaps in the last 4 games including starting the last two games. He has thrown for 462 yards with 4 touchdowns and a pick, along with  54 carries, 172 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Running back  Anthony LaCoste has 111 carries, 781 yards and 6 touchdowns. Broam Hart has 106 carries, 459 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jon Lee has 56 carries, 366 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Receiver Sam Gagliano has 12 catches, 214 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 16 carries for 140 yards. Jalen Robinette has 11 catches, 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. Garrett Brown and Garrett Griffin will also get some catches. Ty MacArthur has 7 catches for 99 yards but is questionable with a concussion. Three defenisve players are out Thursday.

UNLV is 5-1-1 ATS in Thursday games, 6-2 overall, 8-3-2 after a straight up loss, 17-36 against teams with losing records, 11-36-4 in road games, 2-7 on grass, 1=4 in November, 2-8 after a bye week, and 3-13 against teams with losing home records. Six of the last seven games in this series ahve gone over the total.

Air Force is 3-7 ATS after failing to cover, 3-8 after a straight up loss, 7-19 at home, 4-11 after allowing 40 points or more, 8-24 on grass, 5-16 overall, and after allowing 170 passing yards or less, 2-7 in Mountain West games, 2-8 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 1-5 in November, 1-10 after allowing 450 total yards or more, 0-4 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, and overall. The home team has covered the last eight in this series. The Falcons are 5-0 ATS in Colorado Springs against the Rebels recently.

UNLV’s five losses this season have come to teams that either have already qualified for a bowl game or likely will. The Rebels have five wins over teams with losing records. Air Force certainly qualifies in the latter category with only two wins. Both of these teams struggle on defense, so this should be a shootout. UNLV is more consistent on offense and I think that will be the difference. UNLV should probably be favored even on the road, but Air Force is a two point favorite. It will be a frigid evening in Colorado Springs with a high only in the low 30’s and a low temperature in the low teens. There is a 70% chance of snow, so it might not be that comfortable for the team from the desert. Still UNLV wins and becomes bowl eligible.

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