The UNLV Rebels improved to 6-1 after a last second field goal gave the team its first bowl berth in a decade
The UNLV Rebels celebrate being Bowl-eligible after last second field vs CSU Photo credit Lucas Peltier, UNLV Athletics

Seven games into the 2023 season, the Barry Odom is already a success. UNLV has won six of its seven games and became bowl eligible on Saturday, with a hard fought 25-23 victory over Colorado State. Senior transfer Jose Pizano booted his sixth field goal of the afternoon from 28-yards out and bedlam ensued.

Barry Odom became the first coach since Ron Meyer in 1973 to win six of their first seven games. Pizano was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week and Jayden Maiva threw for 353 yards and was named the conference Freshman of the Week.

Odom said at his Monday press conference that he is happy for the players that have put in the work, but there are still five games remaining in the season and UNLV is still in the hunt for the Mountain West title. The Rebels will play a tough Fresno State team that already has a conference loss.

After looking at game film Coach Odom said he saw his team had mental toughness and resolve. He also said the team "made plays down the stretch for the Rebels to get a key third down stop, when they really, really needed it." He was impressed with the UNLV's ability to execute the two minute drill with two timeouts remaining. And he praised Pizano for having a career day. "He was able to kick six (field goals) on the day. You never know when it's gonna make a difference... and they all counted obviously."

Odom was also most please with his team showing signs of maturity through adversity. UNLV trailed 13-3 at halftime, but the team still had a lot of confidence they could win the game.

UNLV is expecting a hostile crowd in Fresno Saturday night (7:30pm/FS1.) The only blemish on the Bulldogs schedule was a 24-19 loss in Laramie to Wyoming. Fresno State was ranked and had its 14 game win streak, second longest in the nation, snapped. Fresno's defense also had a streak of forcing 40 consecutive three and outs stopped.

Fresno's sophomore QB Mikey Keene has thrown for 1,692 yards. Wide receiver Erik Brooks caught 39 passes and has four TDs coming into the game vs UNLV. Junior tailback Malik Sherrod has rushed 302 yards already in MWC games alone.

The Rebel offense will rely on its rushing attack to open lanes in the passing game. Vincent Davis and Donavyn Lester combined for 30 carries and 121 grinding yards on Saturday. Lester gained most of his 60 yards after first contact in a physical game.

Jackson Woodard had 14 tackles against the Rams and Arizona transfer Jaxon Turner gave his team momentum with an interception on a double pass.

If UNLV can pull off an upset in this Saturday's game at Fresno State, they would have a two-game lead over Fresno State. If the Bulldogs knock off the Rebels, the teams would be in a tie near the top, but FSU would own the tiebreaker.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier, UNLV Athletics