Ames showed up in Las Vegas more than the UNLV football offense as the 14th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones throttled the Rebels 48-3 in front of a raucous crowd making it a virtual road game for the home team at Allegiant Stadium.
The Rebels couldn’t get anything going on offense but fans were pleasantly surprised when well-traveled transfer quarterback Tate Martell took his first snaps for UNLV football in the second half.
With the game far out of reach, the Bishop Gorman product completed two of six passes for 27 yards. His series helped the Rebels into field goal range where Daniel Guitterez scored the only points of the game for UNLV football, giving fans something to hold onto as it seemed to be heading into a shutout for most of the night. It might have been a limited appearance, but as a UNLV fan, you have to look for something positive out of what was an overall forgettable performance.
UNLV football head coach Marcus Arroyo is now a combined 0-9 since taking over the helm of the Rebels moribund program.
Iowa State had little trouble getting their offense on track including quarterback Brock Purdy who finished the game 21 of 24 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns. NFL running back prospect Breece Hall tore up the Rebels on the ground, amassing 100 yards on 21 carries and punched it in for two scores.
Speaking on the overall performance of the team, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said he liked the way the Cyclones came to play on Saturday night.
“It’s efficiency,” Campbell said. “We converted on third downs in the first half, we didn’t start possessions inside our own 10-yard line, and I think we played our style of football which helped us on offense.”
In their previous game against Iowa, the Cyclones were limited to 17 points and converted on only three of 12 third downs.
UNLV football still searching for an offense
On the UNLV football side of the ball, freshman quarterback Cam Friel got the start but the Rebels didn’t look to the air very much as he completed just 8 of 13 pass attempts for 67 yards and an interception. It was running back Charles Williams who got the bulk of the workload on offense as he carried the ball 19 times but was frustrated by the Iowa State defense, only gaining 42 yards.
UNLV tallied only 130 total yards of offense for the entire game. Iowa State led 24-0 at halftime and the rest of the game played out on pace.
After the loss, UNLV’s Arroyo commented on their performance saying, despite his ninth-consecutive loss, he feels his team is working hard and doing their best to compete during what has been a challenging two weeks.
“They’re (Iowa State) a team that does a lot of things really well,” Arroyo said. “We’ve had a challenging schedule in back-to-back weeks and I’m excited that our guys were ready to roll and compete with them. The challenge is the depth, experience, and time together and it shows.”
It was another frustrating night for UNLV football fans and things won’t get any easier as a historically tough stretch of the season comes to a close against yet another ranked opponent in No. 22 Fresno State. The Bulldogs, fresh off beating ranked UCLA at the Rose Bowl Saturday, will be yet another big challenge for Arroyo’s team. That game is followed by a road game against an undefeated UTSA team that is hitting its stride on offense. The early UNLV gauntlet could take its toll as the program looks for its first win since the 2019 season.
This will be the first time in UNLV football history that they’ve faced three consecutive AP Top 25 schools.
UNLV had a projected win total of 1.5 before the season began and they remain the only school in the Mountain West yet to record a win this season. After three weeks, it’s apparent the conference is full of schools that can find ways to win. UNLV football could be left searching for a win this season they may never find.