Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024|
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Boise State (7-5) at UNLV (9-3) in the Mountain West Championship, 3 p.m. EST Saturday (Fox)
Line: Boise State by 2½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Boise State 8-3
What’s at stake?
UNLV has never played in the Mountain West title game, so a victory would be another step in a history-making season for the program. A win would give Boise State its fifth conference championship, the most in the Mountain West. The winner will play in the LA Bowl on Dec. 16 against a Pac-12 Conference opponent.
UNLV WR Ricky White III vs. Boise State’s secondary. The Rebels are promoting White as an All-America candidate, a speedster who averages 17.2 yards a catch. He also catches passes in volume, with 76 receptions for 1,308 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s not a good matchup for Boise State, which is near the bottom of the national rankings in allowing 254.8 yards passing per game.
Players to watch
Boise State: RB Ashton Jeanty. He is a dual threat who is second nationally with 164.6 yards per game with 18 touchdowns. Jeanty has rushed for 1,109 yards and caught passes for 537 yards, and he often didn’t go down on first contact. He caused 83 missed tackles, second in the country. The sophomore was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year.
UNLV: QB Jayden Maiava. He wasn’t the starter entering the season, but he was pushed into duty when Doug Brumfield got injured in the season’s third game. Maiava played so well that he kept the job even after Brumfield was healthy enough to play again. After quarterbacking the Rebels to a 7-1 record as starter, passing for 2,626 yards and 14 touchdowns, Maiava was named conference Freshman of the Year.
Boise State is playing under an interim coach, Spencer Danielson, who won both games after Andy Avalos was fired despite a 22-14 record. … UNLV’s Barry Odom was named Mountain West Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to their first winning season in a decade and their most victories since Randall Cunningham quarterbacked the team in 1984. … Jose Pizano was selected conference Special Teams Player of the Year after making 23 of 25 field goals, including 7 of 9 from 40-plus yards. He also is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s top kicker. … This is the first meeting between Boise State and UNLV since 2019. … The Rebels and Broncos ended the regular season in a three-way tie for first place that also included San Jose State. Because UNLV and Boise State didn’t play each other, the conference went to the tiebreaker that averaged national computer rankings and both were ranked ahead of the Spartans.
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