Unlv vs san jose state | franchise sports media
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

New FSM Preview: Week 13 – UNLV vs Air Force – 2023

Franchise Sports Media

 

A trip to the Mountain West Conference championship game is on the line for UNLV as the Rebels travel to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Falcons.

UNLV vs Air Force is taking place this Saturday. 

UNLV vs Wyoming | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Alon Sowell/Franchise Sports Media

Sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference is on the line Saturday afternoon, as UNLV closes out the road schedule as they travel to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force. 

The Rebels, who clinched a winning record for the first time since 2013, are coming off a 34–14 victory over Wyoming last Friday night at Allegiant Stadium. Air Force traveled to Hawai’i last Saturday and surprisingly lost 27–13, making the winner of this game one of the teams playing for the Mountain West Conference championship.

The Rebels have reached the eight-win mark for only the ninth time in school history, and it is the first time since 2000 when they finished 8–5. They have also won eight of the last ten games for the first time since 1984. UNLV had also won five of their first six league outings for the first time since they were in the Big West when they started 5–1 in 1994.

Under offensive coordinator Brennan Marion, UNLV has shattered the program record for 40+ point games for consecutive outings (4) and in a season (6). The Rebels offense has scored at least 24 points and eighth straight games for the first time since 1978.

The Rebels ground game has been on full display all season long. The 31 rushing touchdowns they have entering Saturday’s game are second in the nation behind only USC (32) and the most for a Rebels team since they ran for 34 in 1975. Freshman Jai’den Thomas set the UNLV freshman single-season touchdown record vs Wyoming, scoring his ninth TD. 

Overall, Air Force leads the series with an 18–6 lead and has won 5 straight meetings between the two schools. 

There is a lot on the line Saturday afternoon, with the winner of this game controlling the destiny of the Mountain West Conference this season. If the Rebels win and defeat San Jose State next week, they will host the Mountain West Conference Championship game at Allegiant Stadium on December 2nd.

But first things first, the Rebels need to take care of business against Air Force

With a win, UNLV will play in the Mountain West Conference championship game. 

There is a lot of movement taking place in college football, especially with the Pac-12. Where does UNLV stand, and what are the latest rumors about a possible merger between the Pac-2 and the Mountain West Conference?

UNLV looks to play for the Mountain West championship game with a win over Air Force 

UNLV vs Wyoming | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Alon Sowell/Franchise Sports Media

The state of college football will forever be changed after the 2023 season. With the BIG10, SEC, and Big-12 all adding schools to create power conferences and effectively ending the Pac-12 as we know it, the question is what will they do, and where does UNLV fit in?

According to the Yahoo Sports report by Ross Dellenger, Oregon State and Washington State have re-engaged the Mountain West Conference regarding a two-year football scheduling alliance with the league. Per Dellenger, such an alliance “may serve as a first step in a long-term partnership or even merger” between the two remaining Pac-12 schools and the Mountain West Conference.

The two sides are believed to be “close” on such an agreement, although it likely won’t be official for several days. Mountain West officials have been having meetings throughout the week, including a gathering of the league’s presidents this past Thursday.

It is rumored that UNLV, San Diego State, Fresno State, Boise State, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, San Jose State, and New Mexico would join Oregon State and Washington State. What is yet to be known is whether Hawai’i and Nevada would be included in any merger, with funding being a major issue at both schools, as well as inadequate facilities and stadiums, the new Pac-2/Mountain West could look to add Tulane and Memphis to round out the new conference.

Also, according to the report from Dellenger, it appears that the agreement would begin with a 7+1 scheduling model for Mountain West schools in which Mountain West teams would play seven games against conference opponents plus one against either Oregon State or Washington State, which wouldn’t count toward the league standings. Additionally, Oregon State and Washington State would operate as quasi-independents and wouldn’t be eligible for the Mountain West championship.

In addition to a lucrative financial package for Mountain West members, the agreement is expected to “feature a long-term commitment to the conference with an intent at a full merger beyond this two-year cycle,” as well as “a financial penalty that can be levied upon Oregon State and Washington State if the two programs attempt to acquire only a portion of MWC schools in the future.”

With it likely that the Pac-2 and Mountain West are moving toward a merger, it comes just days after Oregon State and Washington State won a preliminary injunction against the ten departing Pac-12 schools, granting the two remaining members full governing authority over the league and its more than $400 million in assets. The ten departing schools in the Pac-12 schools are filing an appeal.

Regardless, with the football team’s success, UNLV will be a hot commodity when the Mountain West TV deal expires in 2024-25. Where the Rebels will be playing, well, that is the multi-million dollar question that could be answered fairly soon.

UNLV vs Air Force is for a trip to the Mountain West Conference championship game. 

5 Rebel Keys to Watch

Five key players to watch for UNLV.

UNLV vs Wyoming | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Alon Sowell/Franchise Sports Media

Here are five key Rebels to watch this week vs Air Force:

  1. Stop the Air Force Running Game: This will be difficult to do. So, while stopping it may be asking too much, limiting it would be a better way of saying it. The Rebels need to be disciplined and lined up correctly pre-snap because if they are off a half-a-yard either way, it creates natural running lanes for the Falcons.
  2. Steal three possessions: The Rebels must steal at least three possessions and turn 2 of those into TDs and the other a field goal. UNLV must make Air Force pass the ball and get out of the double-wing where they control the clock.
  3. UNLV has to score: The Rebels need to score often and keep the pressure on Air Force. UNLV can not afford to give the Falcons any type of two-score lead or let them control the clock.
  4. Tackling: UNLV must secure and tackle the Air Force ball carriers. The Rebels can’t miss tackles or allow Falcons ball carriers to break off long runs or pick up extra yards after contact.
  5. Play UNLV style of football: This is the biggest key. UNLV can not be who they aren’t. They need to continue to play their style of football at their tempo. The Rebels can score at will, and I doubt Air Force can stop them, so as long as UNLV stays true to who they are, they should be fine.

It’s time for some Rebels football! #RebelUp

Can UNLV beat Air Force and punch their ticket to the Mountain West Conference championship game?   

The Rebels take on Air Force on Saturday afternoon. The kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

 

-Joe Arrigo   Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on X, Threads, and Instagram: @JoeArrigoFSM

Follow The Franchise on social media

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

YouTube