Daily Bet: Utah State (-21) vs. UNLV (Saturday)

Thank you, Phil Dawson! By drilling three 50-yard-plus field goals in Baltimore last night, you not only saved my wager on your Browns, but you saved the lives of your team’s wide receivers, who juggled more balls than Jenna Jameson. (Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy, and those receivers wouldn’t have kneecaps today had Dawson not bailed them out.)

Anyway, nice start to the football weekend, and today we’ll look ahead to Saturday’s college
football action with a play on Utah State — or, more accurately, a play against UNLV. Before I take a turn toward negative town, let me just saw how impressive the Rebels were in last week’s thrilling 38-34 upset victory over Air Force as a 10½-point underdog. Kudos for that effort. Unfortunately, that effort is the main reason I’m going against UNLV here. See, on the rare occasions when they’ve had success in the Bobby Hauck era, the Rebels have failed to build on it. Here are the facts:

In 2010, UNLV followed an 0-3 start with a 45-10 win over New Mexico. Seven days later, UNR
came to Sam Boyd Stadium and trashed the Rebels 44-26. That started a five-game losing skid, which ended with a 42-16 home win over Wyoming. Five days later, UNLV lost 35-20 at home to Air Force. Then last year, the Rebels stunned Hawaii 40-20, followed the next week by a 41-16 home loss at Division I-AA Southern Utah. Six weeks later, UNLV beat Colorado State 38-35, then lost 48-21 at home to Boise State.

The common thread running through those losses-after-wins situations? The Rebels were at home for all four games. On Saturday, UNLV plays in Logan, Utah, its first road game after four straight home contests to begin the season. Why does that matter? Because under Hauck, UNLV is 0-for-14 on the road, losing by an average of nearly 34 points per game. And now, with a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first road start, the Rebels face a solid Utah State squad that upset Utah (27-20 in overtime) in its last home game, then nearly shocked Wisconsin in Madison (16-14 loss) followed by last week’s 31-19 win at Colorado State.

UNLV is 11-38-3 ATS in its last 52 road games, 8-22 ATS in its last 30 after a spread-cover and 3-14 ATS in its last 17 against teams from the Western Athletic Conference, while Utah State is on spread-covering runs of 12-3-1 in non-conference games and 8-3-1 against the Mountain West Conference. This has 51-17 loss written all over it.

For the rest of Matt’s football selections this weekend, check out this week’s Going for Broke column.

Rating:★ ★ ★ ★

Thursday’s Result: Browns (+12) at Ravens (Win)

Record: 51-41