BF.C Breakdown: UNLV Runnin' Rebels

CORVALLIS -- After the nation witnessed the offensive fireworks Cincinnati showcased Monday night, Oregon State might be in for a battle come September 19 . However, not so fast my friend. A hungry and almost equally potent offense awaits the Beavers this Saturday as they travel to the scorching desert for an 8 pm kick against the UNLV Rebels.

Try these numbers on for size. The Beavers, who dispatched the Vikings 34-7 last week in their opener, are 1-8 in non-conference road games since 2003. Add a little late summer heat and a fired up UNLV squad and OSU can ill afford to take this one lightly.

Temperatures are expected to soar to above 100 during the day before "cooling down" to the 90's after a 6:52 p.m. sunset at Sam Boyd Stadium. Hydration and stretching will be key to keeping cramps and exhaustion down.

Fifth year head coach Mike Sanford led his Rebels to a quiet 5-7 record last season. But the most notable win in '08 was against the pac-10 -- a 23-20 overtime win over then-No. 15 Arizona State in Tempe. It was a key cog in the Mountain West's dominance over the Pac-10 last season.

Sanford and Mike Riley have known each other dating back to the early 90's when they shared an office under the tutelage of John Robinson at Southern Cal. And if there was a personality that matches Riley's, his might be it.

"We spent a lot of time together,'' said Riley. "Mike is one of the most wonderful people I have met in this profession.''

So another week, more familiar faces, and the Beavs and their opponents continue to play six degrees of separation.

UNLV downed Sacramento State 38-3 in their opener and now welcome a 1-0 Beaver team for its second of three straight home games to open the season.

Oregon State will look to win its first non conference road game since OSU faced a Hawaii team led by Colt Brennan in early December of 2006.

Just as OSU was tested in the passing game against Portland State, they will be even more so against an athletic UNLV squad. Junior quarterback Omar Clayton leads a balanced air and ground attack, and he got off to a good start last Saturday.

Clayton went 13-for-17 (76.5 percent) for 213 yards and a TD. Match that to Sean Canfield's 8-11 (72.7 percent) for 158 hashes and a TD and the air attacks looked pretty similar in Week 1. Also consider Portland State and Sacramento State finished tied for sixth in conference in ‘08 at 3-6.

All-time leading receiver Randy Wolfe is back for the UNLV passing game and Saturday lead his team in receptions with five for 67 yards. Leading in reception yards was massive wide out Rodelin Anthony (6-5, 230). Anthony scored once and caught a long of 55.

So what should fans expect out of the Rebels? If the score remains tight, balance.

And keep in mind that while the run to pass ratio versus Sac. State was about 2-to-1, the yards were 50/50. Through the air the Rebels amassed 250 yards in just 17 attempts—nearly 12 yards a completion. Efficient, to say the least.

UNLV pounded the run game with the aptly named Channing Trotter.

Trotter (5-8, 200) went for 102 yards on just 16 rushes and hit paydirt three times. Again, match to Jacquizz Rodgers' 103 yards and three scores on just 19 rushes, and the run games mirrored each other. Quizz did, however add 32 yards receiving where Trotter had just one—this fact strictly for chest pounding purposes.

What should fans expect out of the Beavers? Aggressive play calling.

The Beavers coasted to a victory last Saturday and barely scraped the depths of their offensive and defensive play book.

Look for Riley to have his guys ready to go. This entire offseason he has preached "one game at a time" and while he said his team is headed into a "hornet's nest", the Orange and Black—or white and orange—should field a much more innovative and interesting package for the Rebels.

Expect more blitz packages from d-coordinator Mark Banker to pressure Clayton and create turnovers. And expect Riley and o-coordinator Danny Langsdorf to explore the offensive playbook a bit.

Ultimately, no matter how you cut it, it boils down to execution and preparedness. If the Beavers come out and think UNLV is just another bump in the road on the path to the Rose Bowl, they could walk away with yet another blemish on their already tarnished early season non conference record.

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