After an impressive victory over Army in which the Ohio State Buckeyes dominated 38-7, they will have their first noon game of the season against the UNLV Rebels of the Mountain West. The Rebels will visit the Buckeyes and come into town as 39-point underdogs even after they manhandled Idaho last week. UNLV is currently 1-1, but seam to be on the upswing and their offense is rolling.
Last week was the Buckeyes first ever meeting with Army and this week will be another first as they have never had a contest against the Rebels, but Urban Meyer has coached against UNLV twice in his career and won both times during his tenure at Utah. Both victories were by a large margin as Utah destroyed the Rebels 63-28 in 2004 and 28-10 in 2003. I expect the same this Saturday, but below we will highlight the good and the bad of the UNLV Rebels.
The Rebel offense focuses on the run, but a lot of the reason for this is due to the lack of a true arm at the quarterback position. In reality, UNLV has an impressive stable of receivers starting with eventual NFL draftee Devonte Boyd. Even with only two receptions last week, Boyd had over 100 yards receiving and found his way to the end-zone once. Darren Woods Jr. had a quite game against the Vandals, but has shown real talent after recovering from a season ending knee injury suffered midway through last year.
Freshman quarterback Armani Rogers will be making his third start in the Shoe and after beating out Johnny Stanton in camp. Rogers has shown flashes this season as he has the ability to run and comes with a strong arm, but he is not the most accurate quarterback the Buckeyes will see and his youth has resulted in some dumb mistakes so far this season. The Buckeye defense should feast on the young quarterback and force him into plenty of mistakes.
The best player on the UNLV defense is Mike Hughes Jr., who is the leader of a fairly talented defensive line. Hughes is an anchor at the defensive tackle position and does a decent job of rushing the passer from the interior. Jason Fao is another versatile piece that moves around the d-line, but he primarily sees action at nose tackle. Fao has already recorded a sack this season and the Rebels rely on pressure from him often.
The Rebel defensive backfield is garbage and this will be a great opportunity for Barrett and the boys to get their swag back. We witnessed them get into a groove last week against Army, but UNLV is another level of terrible. Dalton Baker is average roaming the field from the free safety spot, but other than him this unit struggles to cover or tackle. I expect the Buckeyes to flourish in the passing game.