San Jose State vs. UNLV Odds & Picks 10/21/21

by | Oct 19, 2021 | cfb

San Jose State Spartans (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. UNLV Rebels (0-6 SU, 5-1 ATS)

College Football Week 8

Date and Time: Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 11PM EDT

Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

TV: CBS Sports Network

Point Spread: SJSU -5/UNLV +5 (Betanysports - Why lay -110 on games when you could be laying -105 there? It makes ZERO sense to waste your hard earned money! Make the switch today! You’ll be so glad that you did!)

Over/Under Total: 46.5

The San Jose Spartans come to Sin City for a Thursday night matchup with the UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference action from Allegiant Stadium. The scrappy Spartans almost pulled off the big win last week, taking the unbeaten San Diego State Aztecs to overtime before dropping a 19-13 game to fall to 3-4. UNLV was also tough in a losing effort on Saturday, leading for the most of the game against a 4-2 Utah State squad before falling, 28-24. Who has the upper hand to cover the spread on Saturday?

Don’t Get Caught Up in W-L Records

On one hand, we see San Jose State pushing the Aztecs to the brink, and on the other hand is the 0-6 Rebels, a team that hasn’t even posted a win in this decade coming off a winless 2020 campaign. It sets up an image in the mind that makes one take the opponent as almost a kneejerk reaction. We see that other than a blowout loss to Iowa State, a context that is irrelevant for the purposes of an MWC game, the Rebels have covered the spread every time.

In other words, despite a troubled bottom-line, UNLV is hardly lost in this particular context—at home against a conference team and a middle-of-the-road conference opponent at that. Twice this season, against MWC teams with higher standing than San Jose, the Rebels kept the games close and covered the spread. Last week against Utah State, they led most of the game before getting nipped at the wire. A few weeks before, against a dangerous Fresno team on the road, they kept it a one-score game, and as 30-point underdogs, that was more than enough. While you’d rather be a San Jose St. fan this season, UNLV is the team you’d rather have been betting.

Jury Out on Spartans

It’s never a great sign, perhaps, especially for a road-dog in conference, to have a loss be their best game of the season. Against SDSU last week, we saw a Spartans’ defense thrive amidst tough conditions, rush the passer, and hold up the team as the offense floundered. But a look at their season shows a series of lopsided losses, and other than a win over Hawaii, some pretty dreary results away from home. Smashed by the better teams they’ve played, they have narrow victories over the likes of New Mexico State and Hawaii, along with a week one perfunctory win over Southern Utah.

The San Jose offense isn’t coming into town like gangbusters. Nick Nash has struggled at quarterback, and they’d get a considerable boost if Nick Starkel could return to his starting role, as he is listed as questionable for this one, and the short week doesn’t help. RB Tyler Nevens and WR Derrick Deese are nice weapons, which Starkel can make better use of than his sometimes errant replacement. One thing they could flex in this game, however, is their pass-rush, with guys like Viliami Fehoko taking it to a beleaguered UNLV offensive line.

More Picks: Get Dan’s Tulane at SMU Spread Pick

Can the Rebels Overcome the Dysfunction?

The bright spots are few for the UNLV offense. In fact, there is nothing they really do well, and unfortunately, that applies to both sides of the ball for the Rebels. They have weapons on offense in the form of a good RB in Charles Williams, in addition to talented receivers like Steve Jenkins and Kyle Williams. But quarterback play has been a problem with Cameron Friel (questionable), starting with a 1 TD/4 INT spread. His offensive line can’t protect him from anything. The line can’t spring loose Williams with regularity. And with Friel or whoever is back there often running for his life, the receivers can’t be used with effectiveness. Frankly, it’s hard to identify how this equation improves this week.

While the bottom-line results aren’t there, and it’s almost impossible to paint the UNLV team with any shade of success, one can say they are making it work. When it comes to cashing bets, they’re solid, and that’s what it’s all about, right? We can spend all day talking about what they do wrong. They’ve managed to hang in there nonetheless and in tougher spots than this. They made it work dealing with matchup disadvantages that seemed even more daunting than what they’re facing against a Spartans team that has been super-flat on the road this season.

The matchup issues are troubling. Watching the UNLV offense labor with bad QB play and a line that is really garbage makes it hard to sign off on the Rebels. The Spartans offense is compromised, but it’s not hard to make it work against UNLV on the ground or through the air. All one has as a potential UNLV backer is the notion that they have a scrappiness that surpasses what exists on paper, an undefinable quality to keep games ugly and close. Against an incoming San Jose squad, will that be enough?

Take the Points

Taking UNLV brings little comfort. And if their tenuous recipe for keeping their noses barely above water starts to wane, it wouldn’t be that surprising. They are, in fact, a bad team, and even a middling conference force like San Jose could just bounce them right out of the stadium. But I see the scrappiness we’ve seen resonating well against a San Jose team that hasn’t really shown that they’re very far ahead of UNLV. I see the Rebels in another close one. I’ll take UNLV to cover the spread.

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