UNLV controls its fate to berth in Mountain West title game

Cameron Oliver isn’t afraid to say UNLV’s matchup against Air Force is the most important game in program history. Then again, that’s the junior cornerback’s approach to every game.

“If we take it one day, one rep at a time,” he said, “the outcome — we’re going to like it at the end.”

The top two teams in the Mountain West meet Saturday at Air Force. The winner will take sole possession of first place in the conference and have the inside track to host the MW championship game Dec. 2.

“Coach (Barry) Odom did promise us a Mountain West championship, and we’re in that spot right now,” Oliver said. “We feel like everything we want is still at hand and the job’s not done.”

UNLV recognizes two conference championships in its 46 seasons as a Division I program. The Rebels were part of a three-way tie for the Big West title in 1994. They also won the Big West outright in 1984, but were forced to vacate their wins, the conference championship and a California Bowl win for using ineligible players.

Now, the Rebels have played themselves into contention for their first Mountain West championship. UNLV (8-2, 5-1 MW) and Air Force (8-2, 5-1) are tied for first, with Fresno State, Boise State and San Jose State all 4-2.

The Falcons have lost two consecutive games, including 27-13 Saturday at Hawaii, but are undefeated at home. Air Force has dominated the series against UNLV, leading 18-6 with five straight wins. The Rebels’ last win was 41-21 in 2013 at Falcon Stadium.

“Our players know what’s out there,” Odom said. “We’ve addressed that, and we understand how important this week is. It’s crucial for the success of the things we’re trying to accomplish.”

So what are the Rebels’ championship scenarios?

Winning their final two games — at Air Force and at home against San Jose State — guarantees them a spot in the Mountain West championship game, which they would host at Allegiant Stadium. They probably would face Air Force, Fresno State or Boise State.

If the Rebels lose to Air Force but defeat San Jose State, they still could reach the championship game. But they don’t have the head-to-head tiebreaker against Fresno State, meaning the Bulldogs would have to lose one of their final two games.

Boise State can also factor into the discussion if it beats Air Force in its final game. The Rebels and Broncos didn’t play this season, but UNLV has the tiebreaker with a better overall record if they are the only two tied teams.

If UNLV beats Air Force and loses to San Jose State, there’s potential for a four-way tie with several outcomes.

Maiava, Pizano honored

UNLV redshirt freshman quarterback Jayden Maiava and sixth-year kicker Jose Pizano earned more weekly Mountain West awards Monday.

Maiava was named freshman of the week for the fourth time after passing for 232 yards and one touchdown and rushing for one TD in a 34-14 victory over Wyoming.

Pizano earned special teams player of the week for the third time after making two field goals and four extra points.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on X.

Original News Source Link – LVRJ

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