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NIU 38, UNLV 30: Baby steps for Rebels, big plays for Huskies

Via request.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Illinois 38, UNLV 30

Confused? Visit the Advanced Stats glossary here.

Basics Northern Illinois UNLV Nat'l Avg
Total Plays 68 87
Close Rate (non-garbage time) 100.0%
Avg Starting FP 31.2 24.7 29.6
Possessions 13 13
Scoring Opportunities*
7 6
Points Per Opportunity 5.43 5.00 4.96
Leverage Rate** 73.5% 65.5% 68.3%
Close S&P*** 0.694 0.577 0.586
* A scoring opportunity occurs when an offense gets a first down inside the opponent's 40 (or scores from outside the 40).
** Leverage Rate = Standard Downs / (Standard Downs + Passing Downs)
*** When using IsoPPP, the S&P formula is (0.8*Success Rate) + (0.2*IsoPPP)
EqPts (what's this?) Northern Illinois UNLV
Total 51.1 44.2
Rushing 19.1 16.0
Passing 32.0 28.2
Success Rate (what's this?) Northern Illinois UNLV Nat'l Avg
All (close) 45.6% 41.4% 41.3%
Rushing (close) 41.0% 39.5% 42.9%
Passing (close) 51.7% 43.2% 39.6%
Standard Downs 52.0% 49.1% 46.8%
Passing Downs 27.8% 26.7% 29.5%
IsoPPP (what's this?) Northern Illinois UNLV Nat'l Avg
All (close) 1.65 1.23 1.28
Rushing (close) 1.20 0.94 1.06
Passing (close) 2.13 1.49 1.53
Standard Downs 1.48 1.01 1.11
Passing Downs 2.50 2.01 1.84
Line Stats Northern Illinois UNLV Nat'l Avg
Line Yards/Carry (what's this?) 3.21 2.85 2.82
Std. Downs Sack Rt. 5.9% 8.3% 5.8%
Pass. Downs Sack Rt. 16.7% 10.0% 6.5%
Turnovers Northern Illinois UNLV
Turnovers 0 1
Turnover Points (what's this?) 0.0 2.9
Turnover Margin Northern Illinois +1
Exp. TO Margin Northern Illinois +0.81
TO Luck (Margin vs. Exp. Margin) Northern Illinois +0.19
TO Points Margin Northern Illinois +2.9 points
Situational Northern Illinois UNLV
Q1 S&P 0.578 0.673
Q2 S&P 0.559 0.510
Q3 S&P 0.777 0.612
Q4 S&P 0.859 0.532
1st Down S&P 0.723 0.617
2nd Down S&P 0.745 0.570
3rd Down S&P 0.691 0.549
Projected Scoring Margin: Northern Illinois by 9.7
Actual Scoring Margin: Northern Illinois by 8

Few coaches won the offseason more than UNLV's Tony Sanchez, a Vegas high school success who got the job, signed a staff with impressive experience, and pulled off an impressive rebrand.

Winning the offseason only matters till the games start, though, and I was curious what UNLV would have to offer. The Rebels eventually succumbed to one of FBS' steadiest mid-majors, but in jumping out to a 17-3 lead, staying close, and getting the ball back with a chance to tie late, they put in an impressive showing.

"Impressive" is relative, mind you. The offensive output was basically average, with Blake Decker still a little all-or-nothing in passing -- over 15 yards per completion, but with a 54% completion rate, a pick, and three sacks -- and passing downs were basically forfeits. And yeah, after the slow start (three points in five possessions, four of which reached UNLV territory), the NIU offense looked awfully effective. Drew Hare completed 21 of 26 passes, Kenny Golladay caught nine passes for 213 yards, and Joel Bouagnon rushed 21 times for 152 yards. That'll do.

Still. Baby steps. UNLV lost to NIU at home by 14 points early last year and lost on the road by eight this year. Both UNLV (improvement!) and NIU (offense!) were given reasons for encouragement.