UNLV (2-9) at Hawaii (3-8) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aloha Stadium (50,000) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: Mountain West, Oceanic. Home Record: UNLV 2-3, Hawaii 2-4. Away Record: UNLV 0-6, Hawaii 1-4. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 1-5, Hawaii 2-4. Series Record: Hawaii leads, 14-9.
GAME NOTES: With their first road win of the season now in the books, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors now shoot for back-to-back victories as they host the UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference action at Aloha Stadium on Saturday night.
Last weekend, the Warriors found themselves on the mainland once again and were challenged with securing their first road victory in more than three seasons as they delivered a 13-0 win over San Jose State. Not only did the win snap the nation's longest road losing streak at 17 in a row, it also marked the first shutout for the Hawaii program since blanking Idaho, 24-0, back on Sept. 24, 2005, a span of 123 games.
As for the Rebels, they are in last place in the West Division of the MWC with just one win in six tries. Since their only victory over another FBS program, a 30-27 overtime affair versus Fresno State last month, the Rebels have dropped four in a row. The latest setback took place at BYU in a non- conference battle last weekend, 42-23.
Hawaii leads the all-time series by a count of 14-9, although the Rebels won the most recent clash a season ago by a score of 39-37 at home in Sin City.
The Rebels ended up running a total of 90 plays and generating 403 yards of offense, but that paled in comparison to the 592 yards put up by BYU in the loss last weekend.
Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran for a game-high 143 yards and a score for the Rebels, while quarterbacks Blake Decker and Jared Lebowitz combined to hit on 20-of-45 passes for 204 yards and a TD, as well as one interception. Devonte Boyd continued to show why he should be considered one of the top receivers in the league with five grabs for 70 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Rebels recovered a pair of fumbles and registered a couple of sacks, but still that did little to slow down a hard-charging BYU offense that continues to operate with a backup quarterback.
UNLV has been having trouble on defense all season long actually and is now ranked 123rd in the nation in both total defense and run defense, with 513.0 and 278.5 ypg allowed, respectively. The group is giving up 37.6 ppg and has allowed at least 27 points to every opponent except Northern Colorado, which it defeated in the second game of the season, 13-12.
On the offensive side for the Rebels, Decker has been the primary passer for the group, converting 57.3 percent of his attempts for 229.8 ypg. But the pressure has been getting to him in a variety of ways and now he has five more INTs (15) than he does TDs (10), and that should be cause for alarm.
While Keith Whitely has the most rushing yards with 479, he has but two TDs on the ground, which is five fewer than Murray-Lawrence who has 374 yards in just seven games.
With just 11 first downs and a total of 13 points, the Warriors appeared to be on their way to yet another road loss, but that was assuming San Jose State would show some signs of life last weekend. As it turned out, the Spartans did little with their 462 yards of offense, compared to a mere 240 for Hawaii, turning the ball over three times during the shutout.
For the visitors, the lone touchdown was scored by Joey Iosefa who ran for 68 yards on 26 attempts. Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey converted 9-of-16 passes for 150 yards and an interception, while kicker Tyler Hadden nailed both of his field goals from 36 and 32 yards.
TJ Taimatuia led the way on defense with 11 tackles, while both Lance Williams and Moses Samia blocked SJSU field goal tries along the way in order to preserve the shutout.
Outside of a few bumps in the road, particularly against Colorado State and Oregon State, the defense for Hawaii has been somewhat solid and is now ranked 59th in the nation with 26.0 ppg allowed. Part of the problem has the Warriors 101st in turnover margin with a minus-0.45 per contest, which is never a good sign.
On offense the passing attack has gone down hill in a hurry. While it does account for 210.6 ypg, the efficiency rating is only 98.43 which is ahead of only two other programs at the FBS level at the moment.
With the monkey finally off their back as far as hitting the road is concerned, the Warriors now need to take care of business at home against a struggling UNLV squad that is just playing out the string now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 27, UNLV 21Game Date and Time
Saturday, November 22, 11 p.m. (ET).