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UNLV vs. Arizona State Football Prediction and Preview

Jayden Daniels, Arizona State Football

Jayden Daniels and the Sun Devils take on the Rebels from the Mountain West in Tempe on Saturday night

Arizona State and UNLV come into their Week 2 matchup off much different results against FCS opponents in Week 1.

The Sun Devils played Southern Utah — an FCS program set next year to join the restarting Western Athletic Conference, a league that both Arizona State and UNLV called home at different times — and cruised despite a bevy of penalties.

It wasn't a pretty win, but the 27-point rout was favorable to UNLV's start against Eastern Washington, another FCS member. The perennial Big Sky Conference contenders outlasted the Rebels in overtime, 35-33.

After accruing 13 flags for 135 yards in Week 1, expect a more disciplined Sun Devils bunch to come out and assert itself early in Week 2.

UNLV at Arizona State

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Arizona State -34

When UNLV Has the Ball

Super senior running back Charles Williams went for 1,257 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019. After a dip in production during the pandemic season, Williams roared into 2021 with 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Eastern Washington.

Slowing Williams is the primary challenge for Arizona State's veteran defense, with UNLV facing a quarterback change. TCU transfer Justin Rogers started against Eastern Washington, but Doug Brumfield finished the game.

The Rebels allowed three sacks against Eastern Washington. Arizona State's pass rush was somewhat muted against Southern Utah, but the Sun Devils will have opportunities to apply pressure against the unproven UNLV passing attack.

When Arizona State Has the Ball

A dark-horse Heisman Trophy contender heading into the season, quarterback Jayden Daniels played a low-key game in his debut: 10-of-12 passing for 132 yards, 40 rushing yards, and no touchdowns.

Chip Trayanum and Rachaad White handled scoring duties, rushing for a pair of touchdowns each. The two are among the best running back tandems out West and should establish the ground attack early. UNLV held Eastern Washington to just 2.9 yards per carry in Week 1, but EWU has long been more of a passing-focused offense.

However, if Week 2 is Daniels' time to show off how his passing touch improved in the offseason, keep an eye on tight end Curtis Hodges. The 6-foot-8 Hodges is a nightmare matchup for a smaller UNLV secondary.

Final Analysis

While Arizona State looked listless at times in Week 1, the Sun Devils finished strong enough to suggest they needed only to shake off some rust. UNLV went back-and-forth with a good Eastern Washington when the Rebels could have folded, but the Eagles simply lack the size and speed Arizona State boasts on all sides of the ball.

Week 2 should be another tune-up before a three-game stretch at BYU, against a good Colorado team, and then a trip to the Rose Bowl to face surprise breakout team UCLA.

Prediction: Arizona State 48, UNLV 17 

Podcast: Week 2 Preview, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45