The UNLV Rebels are wearing opposing defenses out this year.
The Rebels, ranked No. 7 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings, rolled over UTEP, 45-28, on Saturday.
The 3-1 Rebels are averaging 34 points a game this year, scoring 40-plus points in three of their four games.
“The ‘go-go’ offense is very unique,” running back Jai’Den “Jet” Thomas said after rushing for 100 yards on just 13 carries, equaling the UNLV school record with four touchdowns. “Two-back set. Everybody gets to eat.”
The Rebels ran for 307 yards and six touchdowns on 48 carries against UTEP. The Rebels’ up-tempo offense is designed by first-year offensive coordinator Brennan Marion. The 36-year-old Marion came to UNLV from Texas, where he was the passing game coordinator for one season.
“Our goal was 250 (rushing yards),” said Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound freshman from Atlanta. “So, 300 is over our goal. Shout out to my offensive line.”
Thomas has 211 yards and seven touchdowns already this season.
Another UNLV freshman, quarterback Jayden Maiava, also played a huge role in the victory. Maiava, who was born in Honolulu but moved to Las Vegas and played for Sierra Vista and Liberty, was 15-of-27 for 190 yards in his first career start in place of injured starter Doug Brumfield (ribs).
The Rebels had 497 yards on offense.
“He controlled the game,” UNLV head coach Barry Odom said of Maiava. “He made good decisions. He was efficient in how he took control of the offense and he played winning football from start to finish.”
No. 1 Fresno State, which hosts No. 10 Nevada this Saturday night, blitzed Kent State, 53-10, to remain unbeaten (4-0). Quarterback Mikey Keene was 24-of-31 for 325 yards and four touchdowns.
The Fresno State defense held Kent State to just 231 yards and 11 first downs.
No. 2 Air Force, also 4-0, whipped No. 8 San Jose State 45-20, to open their Mountain West season. Air Force’s Emmanuel Michel ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons, who scored 35 unanswered points at one point, had 400 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
“They play a unique scheme (triple option),” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said. “They challenge you in so many ways. They’ve found a formula that works for their school. They recruit to it, they play to it and they are super good.”
The Spartans, now 1-4, got 82 yards and two touchdowns on the ground from Kairee Robinson. San Jose State quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was 24-of-35 for 239 yards and completed his first 11 passes.
“There is not a piece of our football team that doesn’t have a piece of this (loss),” Brennan said. “And it starts with me. I need to coach this team better. That’s the bottom line.”
No. 3 Boise State got past No. 5 San Diego State, 34-31 in San Diego. Boise’s Ashton Jeanty rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
San Diego State had more offensive yards (439-405) but fumbled the ball away twice.
“We had our opportunities,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. “We didn’t follow through. We have to be a lot smarter. We can’t be mentally lazy.”
Jeanty has filled an important role for Boise State, leading the ground game as starter George Holani continues to be hampered by injuries.
“It’s just a mentality I come with,” Jeanty said. “I’m not going to go down. It’s my job to make guys miss. When the offensive line gives you holes like that you have to finish the job for them.”
No. 6 Colorado State beat Middle Tennessee State, 31-23, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi was 30-of-43 for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Dallin Holker caught 11 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Ex-Nevada wide receiver Tory Horton had 10 catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was a long week,” Colorado State coach Jay Norvell said, referring to last weekend’s 43-35 double-overtime loss to Colorado. “It’s been a challenging couple weeks we’ve had.”
No. 9 Utah State (1-3) suffered a disappointing 45-38 loss at home to James Madison. Aggies quarterback McCae Hillstead was 25-of-47 for 399 yards and four touchdowns but also was intercepted three times and sacked five times.
Utah State’s Terrell Vaughan rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries and James Madison turned the ball over five times in the victory.
No. 10 Nevada fell to 0-4 and has now lost 14 games in a row, the longest losing streak in the nation (in FBS). Nevada had a 17-0 halftime lead but gave up 35 unanswered points.
No. 11 New Mexico (2-2) beat Massachusetts, 34-31, in overtime in Amherst, Mass. Lobos quarterback Logan Hopkins was 9-of-17 for 192 yards and a touchdown.
No. 12 Hawaii (2-3) got past New Mexico State, 20-17, in Honolulu on a Matthew Shipley 24-yard field goal as time expired. Hawaii lost at New Mexico State, 45-26 last year, and trailed 17-0 on Saturday.
“Last year I said (the loss in Las Cruces, N.M.) was embarrassing,” Hawaii coach Timmy Chang said. “This win is a confidence-booster for us. It was a must win. It was huge.”
Brayden Schager was 26-of-37 for 245 yards and a touchdown for Hawaii.
“The boys responded,” Chang said. “It wasn’t perfect, but they stuck together.”
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 25:
1. FRESNO STATE (4-0, 0-0). Last week: Fresno State 53, Kent State 10. This week: Nevada at Fresno State, Saturday.
2. AIR FORCE (4-0, 2-0). Last week: Air Force 45, San Jose State 20. This week: San Diego State at Air Force, Saturday.
3. BOISE STATE (2-2, 1-0). Last week: Boise State 34, San Diego State 31. This week: Boise State at Memphis, Satuday.
4. WYOMING (3-1, 0-0). Last week: Wyoming 22, Appalachian State 19. This week: New Mexico at Wyoming, Saturday.
5. SAN DIEGO STATE (2-3, 0-1). Last week: Boise State 34, San Diego State 31. This week: San Diego State at Air Force, Saturday.
6. COLORADO STATE (1-2, 0-0). Last week: Colorado State 31, Middle Tennessee State 23. This week: Utah Tech at Colorado State, Saturday.
7. UNLV (3-1, 0-0). Last week: UNLV 45, UTEP 28. This week: Hawaii at UNLV, Saturday.
8. SAN JOSE STATE (1-4, 0-1). Last week: Air Force 45, San Jose State 20. This week: Bye.
9. UTAH STATE (1-3, 0-1). Last week: James Madison 45, Utah State 38. This week: Utah State at Connecticut, Saturday.
10. NEVADA (0-4, 0-0): Last week: Texas State 35, Nevada 24. This week: Nevada at Fresno State (2-1), Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-2, 0-0). Last week: New Mexico 34, Massachusetts 31, OT. This week: New Mexico at Wyoming, Saturday.
12. HAWAII (2-3, 0-0). Last week: Hawaii 20, New Mexico State 17. This week: Hawaii at UNLV, Saturday.