1 Stuff the run. The Rebels might be coming off two tough losses, but running back Tim Cornett ranks 10th in the nation in rushing with 134 yards per game. Dating to last season, Cornett has rushed for 100 or more yards in four of his last five games, and his production is UNLV’s most reliable offensive weapon. The Cougars’ defense struggled to stop Eastern Washington’s rushing attack last week, though they won’t see as much hurry-up offense out of the conservative Rebels.
2 Remove all doubt. If there’s one thing the struggling Rebels might be heartened by, it’s WSU’s relative offensive struggles through its first two games. The Cougars need to put a couple of scores on the board early to throw UNLV into here-we-go-again mode and not let the Rebels think they have a chance. Remember last season’s 59-7 beating WSU applied to this UNLV team? Guessing the Rebels do, too, and might dread a similar result if they find themselves in an early hole.
3 Don’t let UNLV empty the box. That’s what Brigham Young and Eastern Washington tried to do against WSU. The Cougars responded by running the ball 30 times against the Eagles, something coach Mike Leach is willing to do if the defense drops an inordinate number of players into pass coverage. UNLV’s secondary hasn’t been reliable in years, so the Rebels might try anything they can to keep WSU from moving the ball through the air.
4 Find some energy. UNLV drew 15,257 fans for its 17-14 loss to Northern Arizona last week, so Sam Boyd Stadium doesn’t figure to be rocking today, either. It’s hard enough to create your own energy on the road when everyone is cheering against you. But when the stadium is mostly empty, it can be pretty difficult, too. Big plays or forced turnovers could aid the Cougars in this department. They haven’t won a road game since beating Colorado on Oct. 1 last season.