PROVO — UNLV has lost four consecutive games by an average score of 46-13, and the Rebels are coming off a 48-6 thumping at home by No. 4-ranked TCU.
But BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is expecting a battle Saturday (noon, The mtn.) when the 1-7 Rebels visit LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"Nothing's coming easy to our team currently," he said. "I wouldn't expect that to happen Saturday as well. We're preparing for a tough game."
Statistically, both teams are similar. BYU is No. 113 nationally in scoring offense (16 points per game) while UNLV is No. 111 (16.9 ppg). The Cougars are No. 106 in passing offense, No. 95 in rushing defense, and No. 107 in total offense. The Rebels are No. 97, No. 118, and No. 117, respectively, in those three statistical categories. The Rebels are No. 113 in scoring defense.
BYU is coming off a bye week and looking to improve offensively.
"I don't think you'll see leaps and bounds (in terms of improvement) or some gigantic, all-of-the-sudden this is different from what we've seen," Mendenhall said. "But I do think you'll see some continued improvement."
The Cougars' head coach added, "At some point in the season, it's not that you give up on trying to be your ideal offense, but you have to acknowledge what are we doing, what can we do well, and what is realistic. That's what this past week has done for us as a football team. Again, not giving up on having maybe the offense we've had in the past but getting a better idea of what we currently can do really well."
Mendenhall said his team spent a lot of time working on fundamentals and execution during the week off. "Hopefully," he added, "there will be dividends."
UTAH-TCU GAME: It's a huge showdown with national implications as No. 4 TCU visits No. 6 Utah on Saturday.
BYU cornerback Brian Logan is hoping the Utes prevail so they stay unbeaten when the Cougars travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Nov. 27 for the arch-rivals' final meeting as Mountain West Conference foes.
"I think it would be a little more exciting if they were undefeated," Logan said. "Playing them at their house ... in the last conference game that will really mean something since we're both going our separate ways, it would be that much more sweet if they were undefeated and we went up there and upset them."
"I think it's going to be a good battle," offensive lineman Jason Speredon said of the Horned Frogs-Utes game. "If TCU comes in there thinking it's going to be easy, they're wrong. Utah is a really good team. It will be a fun game to watch."
Mendenhall wouldn't comment specifically on the TCU-Utah contest.
"I think it's pretty neat, though, between TCU, Boise State and the University of Utah from so-called non-automatic qualifying schools that there's three in the top five, which doesn't surprise me," he said. "They're good football teams."
INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Jordan Pendleton (knee), who has been sidelined the last three games, is questionable for Saturday's contest.
"Not certain yet," Mendenhall said of Pendleton's status. "We're hopeful and he's hopeful. I would say a lot more probable for Colorado State (on Nov. 13) and possible for this week is the way I would list him."
Wide receiver McKay Jacobson, who injured his knee early in the Wyoming game on Oct. 23, is expected to return to action this week, Mendenhall said.
Cougars on the air
UNLV (1-7, 1-3 MWC) at BYU (3-5, 2-2)
LaVell Edwards Stadium
TV: The mtn.
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM