EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern looks to bounce back from a humbling Week 1 loss when it hosts UNLV on Saturday. The Wildcats were held to 210 yards of offense in the 17-7 setback to Stanford and to make matters worse, lost quarterback TJ Green for the remainder of the campaign due to a foot injury, as they hope to rebound from the double blow by ending a four-game skid against non-conference opponents.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Northwestern -20
"The sky's not falling and I don't want to be disrespectful but we're in a one-score game with a first-time starter on the road against a top 25 team," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. "We've got a lot of football left in front of us and we have a chance to be an outstanding team." The Wildcats have won the previous two meetings with UNLV but haven't faced the Runnin' Rebels since a 37-28 victory in 2001, and hope history repeats itself as they search for their second win over a Mountain West opponent in the last three years. Northwestern has won four of its last five home openers against non-Power 5 teams and hopes the offense gets back on track against a UNLV squad which has given up an average of 33 points over its first two games. The Rebels opened the season with a 56-23 win against Southern Utah before suffering a 43-17 setback to Arkansas State in Week 2.
ABOUT UNLV (1-1)
Armani Rogers was limited to 42 yards on 8-of-23 passing with an interception against Arkansas State but gained 44 yards on the ground to move within 36 of breaking the program record for most rushing yards by a quarterback currently held by Jason Thomas (1,528) from 2000-02. Charles Williams was one of the lone bright spots on offense as he rushed for a career-high 168 yards and a touchdown but the Rebels were held to 300 total yards of offense. "It's an unacceptable deal because we're a better football team than that," UNLV coach Tony Sanchez told reporters. "There is no reason for the amount of talented guys we have that we're not more explosive."
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (0-1)
Hunter Johnson, who was a five-star transfer from Clemson, made his highly-anticipated debut to mixed reviews as he went 6-of-17 through the air for 55 yards and a pair of interceptions in the loss to Stanford. Starting running back Isaiah Bowser, who gained 54 yards on 10 carries against the Cardinal, is questionable after suffering a lower-body injury while Jason Whittaker moved from superback to quarterback after Green underwent season-ending foot surgery last week. All-Big Ten linebacker Paddy Fisher picked up where he left off last season as he made six tackles, forced a fumble and blocked a field goal.
1. Fisher is the NCAA's active leader in forced fumbles (10).
2. Fitzgerald needs four wins to reach 100 for his career.
3. UNLV is 2-15 against current members of the Big Ten Conference.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 31, UNLV 13