UNLV Rebels tight end Kaleo Ballungay (19) reacts after his touchdown against Air Force Falcons defensive back Trey Williams (0) in the third quarter at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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UNLV, Boise State vow to make best of big opportunity

Mountain West Conference
UNLV vs. Boise State
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET
Allegiant Stadium
Las Vegas, Nevada

Boise State and UNLV are in the Mountain West championship game but the matchup wasn’t solely based on their play.

San Jose State also finished 6-2 in conference play to make it a three-way tie for the two title game spots. Since no Mountain West teams were ranked in the latest College Football Playoff poll, the matchup in Las Vegas was decided by the composite score of four computer rankings.

UNLV, which lost to San Jose State in the final game of the season, received a 44.5 and was named host of the contest.

Boise State, two weeks removed from firing its head coach, was second at 55.75. San Jose State missed out at 58.5.

Hours of number crunching brought the teams to the peculiar peak of the season to date. Making the most of the opportunity is a mantra from both coaches.

The Rebels (9-3) are thrilled to be in after breaking their streak of nine straight losing campaigns behind first-year coach Barry Odom.

“We are a good football team when we have a chip on our shoulder,” said Odom, the Mountain West Coach of the Year. “Whatever that chip is, it needs to be large.”

Boise State (7-5) will be guided by interim coach Spencer Danielson. Andy Avalos was fired with two games left in the regular season.

The Broncos were energized by the methods of Danielson, who has interviewed for the full-time gig.

“My focus from the second I was named the interim coach was 100 percent focused on this team and us finishing this the right way,” Danielson said. “I had communication with our players that grown men finish what they start. We’re going to do this together.”

Broncos running back Ashton Jeanty was named Mountain West Player of the Year, rushing for 1,113 yards and 13 touchdowns and catching 37 passes for 537 yards and five scores. Defensive end Ahmed Hassanein recorded 12 sacks.

The Rebels lead the nation with 36 rushing touchdowns and also feature a standout receiver in Ricky White (76 receptions, 1,308 yards, seven TDs. Quarterback Jayden Maiava has thrown for 2,626 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions and was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year.

Boise State leads the series 8-3. The teams last met in 2019, a 38-13 Boise State romp in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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