Coming off of a pretty ugly Week 1 showing against Stanford, Northwestern prepares for its first home game of the Hunter Johnson era. On the other side, UNLV looks to bounce back from an embarrassing loss of their own to the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Here are some important pieces of information regarding NU’s week 3 opponent:
Northwestern and UNLV have played two times previously
The Wildcats and the Rebels played a home and home in 1998 and 2001. The first game took place in Evanston, where the Wildcats, coached by Gary Barnett, smashed UNLV 41-7. The defense of Jeff Horton’s Rebels couldn’t stop NU, as quarterback Gavin Hoffman went 19-28 for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver D’Wayne Bates returned from a leg injury to lead the way with a dominant 9 receptions for 156 yards and both passing scores.
The second meeting, in 2001, resulted in another win for the Wildcats, this time in the desert. A Randy Walker-led NU team beat John Robinson’s Rebels 37-28. In a game that was more lopsided than the score would suggest, Zak Kustok threw for 2 TDs, 24 completions and 224 yards on 49 attempts. He added a strong rushing performance, with 21 rushes for 74 yards and 3 TDs. Damian Anderson (father of current NU RB Drake Anderson) ran for 113 yards on 28 carries, and added 11 yards on 4 receptions.
UNLV faces significant uncertainty at Quarterback
Like Northwestern did to start the season, UNLV has a decision to make under center. The current options for the Rebels are redshirt junior Armani Rogers and redshirt freshman Kenyan Oblad. Rogers has started both of the Rebels’ first two games, and looks favored to get the start in Evanston as well. In his first game against woeful FC opponent Southern Utah, Rogers threw for 11 completions, 144 yards and a touchdown on 17 pass attempts. He also ran 11 times for 114 yards and 2 TDs in the 56-23 Rebel win.
Midway through the third quarter, though, Oblad entered the game, and Rogers didn’t return. In his own outing against Southern Utah, Oblad was 7-11 with 59 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions. Though both QBs had relatively strong performances in the season opener, things changed in a hurry. UNLV got demolished by an Arkansas State team that was favored by just 1.5, losing 43-17.
While the Rebels’ defense was atrocious, their QB play wasn’t much better. Rogers started the game and spent all but one drive under center for UNLV, posting a horrendous stat line of eight completions, 42 yards, and a pick on 23 attempts. Finally, UNLV coach Tony Sanchez opted to play Oblad for a drive, and the redshirt freshman took advantage of it, completing each of his three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. While Sanchez implied a willingness to make some changes coming into the Week 3 showdown, it seems as if he will roll with Rogers, potentially adjusting as his more veteran option falters.
UNLV is a relatively young program
Rebels football was created in 1967, only 6 years before the NCAA created their current divisional system (for reference NU formed their football program in 1876.) UNLV joined Division 1 football in 1978, and became a member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (whicht would later become the Big West) in 1982. They then left the Big West for the Western Athletic Conference, and in 1999 joined the Mountain West Conference, where they are currently a member of the conference’s West division.