(Photo: John Rivera/Icon Sportswire)

UNLV is 4-3, they have lost two in a row,  Air Force last week 42-7 and two weeks ago to San Jose St, 40-7.  In week two they lost to common opponent Cal, 24-14. 2-10 a year ago, Marcus Arroyo, the former assistant head coach at Oregon, is in his third season at the helm of the Rebels.

UNLV is 68th in total offense and 95th in total defense nationally, and they have injury issues. Their starting quarterback Doug Brumfield missed the Air Force game and he is day to day due to a concussion. Their star running back Aidan Robbins went out in the second quarter last week with a knee injury and is also day to day. One of their top receivers, Kyle Williams has also been injured and is believed to be out for this week.

The 6-5, lefthanded Brumfield is a 68% passer with running skills.  The Rebels won four of their first five to start the season with him in charge.  If he can’t go, look for 6-3, 230 sophomore Cameron Friel to get the call. Last week Friel was 8-10 for 108 yards with one TD. Friel brings plenty of experience to the equation as he was the starter most of last year. Also in the equation might be 6-5 sophomore, Harrison Bailey, a former 5-star recruit who transferred in from Tennessee.

Rebel quarterbacks have been sacked 20 times this season, a shade under three per game.

Whoever is at quarterback will have top receiver Ricky White available. White, a transfer from Michigan State, is a 6-1 sophomore who has 33 catches for 444 yards and 4 TDs. While at State, he set a freshman school game record with 196 yards in an upset of Michigan in 2020.

Robbins, a Louisville transfer has carried 125 times this season for 591 yards and 8 TDs.  If able to go, at 6-3, 230 he presents a physical challenge to would be tacklers. His main back up is junior Courtney Reese.  At 5-8, 165 Reese presents a significantly different profile from Robbins, he has gained 217 yards on 37 carries with no touchdowns on the year.

The Rebels defense is giving up 27.7 points per game, 74th nationally. Expect to hear the name of UNLV’s defensive MVP from last year called Saturday, a lot.  Austin Ajiake anchors the linebacking corps and he is leading the Rebels in tackles in 2022 by a wide margin, with 72. The Rebels have picked off 11 passes, which ranks as 4th best in the nation.

When healthy, UNLV has the look of a dangerous team. Their roster is made up of 11 FBS transfers and a slew of former Junior College players. as well as transfers from other levels of college football.  Critical to any success they might have against the Irish will be the health of two of their top offensive skill players in QB Brumfield and RB Robbins.

This game has a Marshall feel to it, except on paper, UNLV looks a bit better. Expect the Irish to come out fast and motivated after the Marshall and Stanford homefield debacles. That likelihood probably accounts for the big point spread as much as anything.

Notre Dame is a 26.5-point favorite and the over/under is 47.5

The Fighting Irish Preview Pick  31-UNLV 17

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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