Rebels begins MWC slate against No. 22 Fresno State

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Sep 11, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Kyle Soelle (34) tackles UNLV Rebels quarterback Doug Brumfield (2) during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV football begins Mountain West Conference play on the road today against No. 22/25 Fresno State.

With Fresno State entering the national polls this week, today will mark first time in program history the Rebels will face three consecutive ranked teams. The Bulldogs (3-1) are coming off a victory over then-No. 13 UCLA, 40-37, at the Los Angeles Coliseum last Saturday.

In addition, Fresno State faced then-No. 11 Oregon two weeks ago and despite taking a three-point lead late, the Ducks came back to win that game 31-24.

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Sep 18, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) throws a pass as UCLA Bruins linebacker Ale Kaho (10) defends in the fourth quarter at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Bulldogs head coach Kalen DeBoer, who spoke to the media on Monday, said his team has to prepare for the Rebels.

“In regard to this weekend, huge week for our program,” DeBoer said. “It’s one of those things where I think we’ve been really consistent week in and week out, our preparation and how we’ve played. We’ve had the extremes as far as the teams and the talent we faced with the two home wins to going to Oregon and going to UCLA.

“In some ways, you don’t quite exactly know what you’ve got, but I felt like after the Oregon game, we had a pretty good idea that we had a pretty good chance to be a very physical team, a very disciplined team and a team that had a lot of playmakers on it.”

Fresno State led by senior QB Jake Haener

Fresno State is led by senior quarterback Jake Haener, who is nearing 1,500 passing yards through four weeks of the season at 1,464.

Last week against the Bruins, Haener completed 39 of 53 passes for 455 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.  

Senior running back Ronnie Rivers leads the rushers, who recorded a season-high 21 carries for 136 yard and two touchdowns against UCLA.

Both teams are practicing with one less day to prepare due to the Friday night kickoff.

Rebels kicking is a plus through three games in 2021

One thing that has gone well for the Rebels is their kicking.

UNLV placekicker Daniel Gutierrez has made 11 straight field goals, which is the seventh-longest streak in the nation, highlighted by a 51-yard field goal against Eastern Washington on Sept. 2.

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Sep 18, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; UNLV Rebels running back Charles Williams (8) looks to evade the tackle attempt of Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Aric Horne (20) during a game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In addition, Gutierrez made of 16 of 17 from 39 yards or closer last season.  

Although the team can rely on getting three points from a ball kicked through the uprights, the Rebels need to have Gutierrez come on the field for more one-point PAT attempts. The Rebels managed only three points in a 48-3 loss last week to Iowa State.

Quarterback Doug Brumfield returned to practice this week after missing last week’s game against Iowa State and is expected to play on tonight. He needs to get into rhythm to find receivers, such as sophomore Kyle Williams and junior Steve Jenkins or get the ball to running back Charles Williams.

The Rebels and Bulldogs kick off at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, Calif. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.