Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 | 2:31 a.m.
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Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Alex Adeyanju digest all there was to take in from UNLV's 59-21 loss to BYU on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.
- Opponent: Utah
- Date: Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
- Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
- TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
- Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
Though it may be hard right now for fans and outsiders to do, the leaders on the UNLV football team still say there is a sense of belief in the locker room that bowl eligibility is within reach.
At 2-4, the Rebels still have several tough tests remaining, such as road trips to TCU and Air Force and next Saturday's home date with 4-1 Utah.
But at the same time, there are also some winnable games left on the 2009 slate.
"There's belief," senior linebacker Jason Beauchamp said. "A lot of those guys, we've been in this situation before. Last season, we kind of went through a situation like this. We started 3-1, then we couldn't win a game and still had a chance to make it to a bowl game.
"We're still optimistic and are looking forward to next week."
In 2008, the Rebels scraped together back-to-back wins at home against New Mexico and Wyoming to get themselves on the doorstep of bowl eligibility before fading in the finale at San Diego State.
This season, junior quarterback Omar Clayton said he points to the fact that there are not too many hanging heads as a reason to remain optimistic.
"You see people make good plays and people get excited on the sideline, and that's a sign of belief," he said. "I think if this team was drained of any kind of belief, people would make plays and guys would just lull around.
"Guys are excited when things go well, so we have to keep that rolling."
Junior linebacker Starr Fuimaono did not play due to his sprained ankle suffered last week in the first half at UNR. He was the team's leading tackler heading into the BYU game, while the second-leading tackler, junior linebacker Ronnie Paulo, suffered a sprained shoulder early on against the Cougars.
Suffering sprained left ankles were both senior receiver Rodelin Anthony, who returned from a concussion to catch four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, and sophomore tight end Kyle Watkins, who was hurt in the second half on kick coverage.
As for Clayton's right shoulder, which kept him on the sidelines against, UNR, he said it's still not back to 100 percent.
"I wouldn't call it 100 percent, but it's good enough for me to play and make throws," he said after going 20-of-32 for 253 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. "So that's good enough."
With his team-high eight catches, senior receiver Ryan Wolfe, already the UNLV career leader in receptions and receiving yardage, moved into second place on the Mountain West Conference's all-time list for catches. He needs 10 more to pass San Diego State's J.R. Tolver as the league's all-time catch king.
Sophomore receiver Michael Johnson had six catches for a career-high 113 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 75-yard bomb from Clayton.
Sophomore defensive back Deante' Purvis became the first Rebel since Lenny Ware on Sept. 25, 1999, to run a kick back for a touchdown.
UNLV was led in tackles by sophomore safety Chris Jones, who had 10. Beauchamp played through a sprained MCL in his left knee to record eight, while sophomore linebacker Beau Orth started in Fuimaono's place and notched seven stops and combined with Heivaha Mafi on a tackle-for-loss.
All by their lonesome
Duke defeated North Carolina State on the road earlier in the day, 49-28.
What's the significance?
Well, with their conference victory away from home, UNLV now is alone atop the charts with the nation's longest road losing streak in conference games with 20.
The Rebels' next opportunity to end that comes on Oct. 24, when they travel to face New Mexico.
The next-longest streak on the list is held by Iowa State, who following a 41-36 loss earlier in the day at Kansas has dropped 14 consecutive Big 12 games away from Ames.
What's on tap?
UNLV will welcome Utah to Sam Boyd Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff next Saturday night.
Utah lost in its last trip to Las Vegas, falling 27-0 in 2007 in one of two UNLV triumphs that season. The Rebels then lost to the Utes in Salt Lake City last year, 42-21, as Utah went undefeated and upset Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Utah used two fourth quarter touchdowns from Cimarron product Eddie Wide to come from behind and knock of Colorado State, 24-17, on Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins.
Wide, a junior who replaced the injured Matt Asiata in recent weeks as the Utes' featured back, had 127 total offensive yards in the effort.
Elsewhere in the MWC
Joseph Turner paced the Horned Frogs with 72 yards and a score on the ground.
Meanwhile, Wyoming won its third straight game and is turning into quite the sleeper in the league.
Behind another strong showing from freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, the Cowboys won a snowy home game against punchless New Mexico, 37-13.
Carta-Samuels was 15-of-30 for 232 yards and three touchdowns for Dave Christensen's 4-2 club. Meanwhile, New Mexico is the lone winless team remaining in the conference.
This and that ...
BYU is now 8-0 all-time against UNLV in Las Vegas and leads the all-time series, 14-3, including five straight victories ... Rodelin Anthony set a new career-high in touchdown receptions, as his second half score gave him four on the season ... Clayton's first TD pass gave him a throwing score in 14 consecutive games, which ties him for the second-longest streak in MWC history with Utah's Brian Johnson. The record his held by former BYU QB John Beck.