UNLV final test for Air Force before likely bowl

Published Nov. 17, 2010 10:03 p.m. EST

Air Force is a virtual lock for a bowl game, but has one regular season test left in UNLV on Thursday night.

And Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said the Rebels are a good opponent despite their 2-8 record because they played well in their last game and have faced tough opponents.

''The other night, you saw a gel, something that really clicked. Not just scheme-wise, but the chemistry,'' Calhoun said of UNLV's 42-16 rout of Wyoming. ''It makes the challenge stronger.''

UNLV freshman running back Tim Cornett had four touchdowns that game and was named co-offensive player of the week for the Mountain West Conference.


The rest of the season hasn't gone nearly as well for the Rebels, who are 2-4 in conference play and out of the running for their first bowl since 2000.

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck is hoping to build on last week's victory to make winning a habit.

''It's good to see them in the locker room singing the fight song,'' Hauck said. ''Winning football games is a big deal.''

After their home finale against the Falcons, the Rebels have two road games left against San Diego State and Hawaii.

Air Force (7-4, 4-3 MWC) is used to winning, having played in bowls every year since 2007.

Both teams are playing on short rest after games on Saturday. But while Hauck said his team has been ''up against the wall'' in preparing for this week, Calhoun said he thinks Thursday games are good and still give teams enough time to prepare.

''I don't think you want to do it six times (in a season),'' Calhoun said. ''Certainly you don't want to play Tuesday or Wednesday. ... But Thursday, I think it's healthy.''

Calhoun said he won't know until close to game time whether quarterback Tim Jefferson will be able to play. Jefferson left last week's game against New Mexico with a bloodied nose after being tackled by two Lobos defenders late in the first half.

Backup quarterback Connor Dietz threw a touchdown, ran for another and had 103 all-purpose yards.

Calhoun said whether Jefferson plays won't be determined by what he wants.

''They've got to be able to go full speed and they've got to be cleared,'' Calhoun said. ''These guys will tell you they're perfectly fine.''

Hauck said the starting quarterback won't determine his strategy against Air Force's option offense.

''It's irrelevant. You don't change your defense based on who's in there. They've got a lot of good players,'' Hauck said. ''They are fun to watch if you aren't having to prepare for them.''