Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010 | 10:49 p.m.
UNLV fans will have reason to panic if the Rebels don't get their first win of the season next week at Sam Boyd Stadium.
UNLV returns home to take on New Mexico at 7 p.m. next Saturday. New Mexico could be the worst of the 120 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Lobos fell to 0-3 after a 56-14 defeat in front of their home crowd against Utah. For the year, New Mexico's opponents have outscored them 180-31.
The Lobos have pretty much picked up from where they left off in 2009. New Mexico went 1-11 last year and took eighth in the Mountain West with its only win coming against Colorado State, whom they finished ahead of in the standings.
One of New Mexico's only bright spots last year was linebacker Carmen Messina, who led the nation in tackles with 13.5 per game. Messina's numbers undoubtedly were inflated by the Lobos defense's inability to get off the field, but it's an impressive accomplishment nonetheless.
Messina hasn't repeated his performance so far this season. He hasn't received much of a chance. Messina suffered a high ankle sprain in a 72-0 loss to Oregon to open the season and has been hampered by it ever since. He's listed as day-to-day, and his availability could be limited against the Rebels for the third straight game.
That's not the only notable injury New Mexico is dealing with. After starting the first two games at quarterback, B.R. Holbrook missed the Utah game with a knee injury. Freshman Tarean Austin and junior Brad Gruner combined to go 18-for-35 for 161 yards with a touchdown and interception in Holbrook's absence.
For the season, New Mexico is completing only 54 percent of its passes. The Lobos rushing attack has been worse.
No one has run for more than 50 yards in a game. The Lobos average less than two yards per carry.
UNLV was able to take advantage of New Mexico's numerous flaws in a 34-17 victory in Albuquerque last season. It gave the Rebels their first conference victory of the year.
UNLV coach Bobby Hauck hopes for a similar result next weekend.