Utah at UNLV Preview
Las Vegas, NV - Utah has managed to back bounce back from its only loss of the season and return to the Top 25.
The 24th-ranked Utes look for a third straight victory as they visit struggling UNLV on Saturday night in a Mountain West contest.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made Utah -17 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Utah -17 (View College Football bet percentages).
After spending three weeks unranked following a 31-24 loss at Oregon on Sept. 19, Utah (4-1, 1-0) returned to the AP Poll this week after beating Louisville 30-14, and Colorado State 24-17 on the road last Saturday.
"We really don't pay a lot of attention to that at this point in time,'' Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We still have a lot of football left.''
Utah, which went 13-0 and finished No. 2 last season, continues to focus on the big picture.
"Of course (being ranked) means something, but it's not our final thing - where we want to be,'' senior linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said. "We've still got a lot to do.''
Now, the Utes have a chance to climb higher up the poll with winnable games against UNLV (2-4, 0-1), Air Force, Wyoming and New Mexico - a combined 9-15 - before a road showdown with No. 12 TCU on Nov. 14.
"We're in a great position,'' said Utah receiver David Reed, who had nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown against Colorado State. "Everybody thought that loss (to Oregon) was going to kill us. We've just got to keep fighting and we'll be all right.''
The Utes hope they don't find themselves in a similar fight this weekend after rallying from a 14-point, second-half deficit by scoring 21 straight points to beat Colorado State.
Junior quarterback Terrance Cain was 24 of 32 for 248 yards with two touchdowns and Las Vegas native Eddie Wide rushed for 102 yards on 17 carries while scoring a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns for the Utes, who are second in the MWC in total offense at 437.6 yards per contest.
Wide has rushed for 231 yards on 36 carries in his last two games since being held to minus-3 versus Oregon.
The Utes could be in for another big effort against UNLV, which is allowing 35.1 points per contest and giving up a league-worst 476.0 yards per game.
Trying to avoid a fourth straight loss, UNLV has dropped nine of 10 to Utah since the start of the 1999 season. The Rebels won 27-0 at home Sept. 22, 2007, for their only victory during that stretch.
"We all know what happened two years ago, when we came away with a devastating loss," Whittingham said of the Utes' most recent trip to Las Vegas. "We have to have our minds right and we have to be ready to go."
The Rebels lost 59-21 to then-No. 18 BYU last Saturday after falling 63-28 at Nevada a week earlier. UNLV has allowed 1,384 yards of offense in those two defeats.
"Obviously it is a very difficult situation and we have to dig ourselves out," said UNLV coach and former Utah offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, who's 13-40 in five seasons as Rebels coach. "That is what I told our team, is that we have to dig ourselves out."
UNLV senior Ryan Wolfe's 44 receptions lead the conference, but he has one touchdown. Wolfe has 17 catches for 167 yards in three games versus Utah.
The Rebels, who lost 42-21 at Utah last season, are 1-13 all-time at home against ranked opponents. UNLV won 23-20 at then-No. 15 Arizona State 23-20 on Sept. 13, 2008, for its last victory over a Top 25 school.
Posted: 10/13/09 10:45PM ET