Iowa State vs. UNLV Betting Odds & Picks: Can Cyclones Bounce Back as Big Favorites? (Sept. 18)

Iowa State vs. UNLV Betting Odds & Picks: Can Cyclones Bounce Back as Big Favorites? (Sept. 18) article feature image

Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Breece Hall (28) and Brock Purdy (15).

  • The Iowa State Cyclones take on the UNLV Rebels in late-night college football action on Saturday.
  • The Cyclones are looking to bounce back after a loss to Iowa last week and enter this matchup as huge favorites.
  • Matt Wispe breaks down the game below and shares his a pick based on his analysis.

Iowa State vs. UNLV Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
10:30 p.m. ET
Iowa State Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Coming off of a loss to its biggest rival, Iowa State meets an 0-2 UNLV team that currently ranks in the bottom 10 of SP+ rankings.  Still ranked in the top 15 of the AP and Coaches Polls, Iowa State expect to use this week as a bit of respite before jumping into the Big 12 conference schedule.

For UNLV, it's hoping to catch Iowa State in the dreaded sandwich spot and have a competitive game as more than a four-TD underdog.

Minor crosswinds ranging from six to nine miles per hour will be blowing as these two kick off their night game, but it's unlikely to impact the scoring more than the team's struggles with efficiency.

Iowa State Cyclones

The season hasn't gotten off to the start that coach Matt Campbell would have expected. Iowa State struggled against a non-FBS opponent and then lost a home game against its in-state rival.

It may not come as any solace to the fans, but Iowa State was incredibly unlucky to lose to Iowa. The Cyclones finished with a post-game win expectancy of 91%. But after starting the season as a top-10 team with playoff aspirations, they sit at just 1-1 and have fallen out of the top 10 in the polls.

Cyclones Offense

Through two games, the Cyclones are averaging just 16.5 points per game with a success rate of 40.6%. Iowa State's biggest struggle has been finishing drives. It's averaging 3.33 points per opportunity.

Breece Hall entered this year as the star of this offense and one of the best RBs in all of college football, but the results haven't been impressive thus far. Following his 2020 campaign in which Hall rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of 12 games, Hall has 138 yards in two games and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Iowa State's 45% rush percentage appears to make its offense inefficient as it has a 39.7% rushing success rate.

Brock Purdy was benched for freshman Hunter Dekkers during the Iowa game following three interceptions, but Matt Campbell has made it clear that Purdy remains the team's starting QB. Iowa State has a passing success rate of 41.4% and has five passing plays over 20 yards.

The offensive line hasn't helped out the running game. It has allowed a Stuff Rate of 19% and the line has only generated 2.824 line yards per rush.

Cyclones Defense

Iowa State's defense is not the reason why it lost to Iowa. It only allowed 173 total yards of offense, but the four turnovers by the offense put Iowa in a position to score 27 points.  For the year, it has allowed a success rate of 31.7% and just 3.3 points per opportunity.

The defensive front has been stout against the run. It's allowing a 32% success rate and has only allowed two rushing plays over 10 yards. It's allowing just 2.27 line yards per rush and has stuffed 22% of attempts.

The pass defense is equally strong on a down-to-down basis, although it has allowed some additional explosive plays that could bite them against better opponents. Iowa State has allowed five passes over 20 yards, but it has maintained a 31% passing success rate.

However, the Cyclones have only created Havoc on 15.8% of plays and have only forced two turnovers. Against this UNLV team that has run on more than 60% of its offensive plays, the pass defense likely won't be challenged frequently.

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UNLV Rebels

After a winless 2020 debut season, coach Marcus Arroyo was hoping to turn things around in 2021. Through two games, it appears to be more of the same with two losses, including a loss to an FCS program.

Rebels Offense

Since the beginning of 2020, the Rebels have averaged just 18.4 points per game, and through two games, they only have a success rate of 29.4% and are averaging 4.2 yards per play. And at a pace of 29.1 seconds per play, the Rebels are going to consistently struggle to put up points.

The passing game has been led by Doug Brumfield who is averaging 6.8 yards per attempt while completing just 42.3% of his passes. However, Brumfield is considered day-to-day, and if he misses the game, his backup Justin Rogers will likely be under center.

For both Brumfield and Rogers, their best chance at moving the ball efficiency may be on QB runs.

The running game is averaging just 3.8 yard per attempt which makes its heavy usage a little surprising. Despite averaging 38 attempts per game, the Rebels aren't even averaging 150 rushing yards per game.

The offensive line is helping the cause with 3.4 line yards per attempt and only has allowed an 11% Stuff Rate.

Rebels Defense

The defense isn't stopping anyone. It has allowed 36 points per game, has allowed a success rate of 53.9%, and is generating Havoc on 9.3% of plays.

The rushing defense is the key area of concern, particularly in a matchup against Breece Hall. It has allowed a rushing success rate of 56.5, which is among the worst in the country, and has allowed 15 rushes over 10 yards. The defensive front is allowing 3.7 line yards per attempt.

While the pass defense is better than the run defense, it's still an area of concern. It has allowed a passing success rate of 50% and has allowed eight passing plays over 20 yards. The bright side to this defense is that it has created three interceptions and passes defended.

Iowa State vs. UNLV Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Iowa State and UNLV match up statistically:

Iowa State Offense vs. UNLV Defense




Rush Success93124
Line Yards96118
Pass Success74106
Pass Blocking*60105
Big Play101118
Finishing Drives9483
*Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)**Havoc Allowed (Off.) vs. Havoc (Def.)

UNLV Offense vs. Iowa State Defense




Rush Success8823
Line Yards4020
Pass Success12823
Pass Blocking*10022
Big Play1077
Finishing Drives2259
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)** Havoc Allowed (Off.) vs. Havoc (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling56111
PFF Coverage2794
Middle 87692
SP+ Special Teams11974
Plays per Minute77110
Rush Rate46.9% (106)64.4% (18)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.

Iowa State vs. UNLV Betting Pick

Iowa State has gone under in its last five games and its offense has been struggling mightily in two games. UNLV hasn't been a juggernaut offensively, as it has only eclipsed 20 points three times in its eight games with Arroyo as head coach.

With neither team likely to create big plays on offense and Iowa State likely controlling the game, I'm expecting scores to stay low and for Iowa State to win by a multi-touchdown margin.

My play is under any total above seven touchdowns, but I do also like UNLV to stay within 30 at the final whistle.

Pick: Under 49.5 or better

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