Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 | 6:57 p.m.
- Sherry injured as Rebels drop forgettable 32-7 decision at Boise State
- Boise State much more than the trick plays that put program on the map
- Mountain Best: There’s a new team deserving of the ranking’s top spot
- Rebels can either embrace challenge of Boise State or wither after UNR loss
- The Fremont Cannon returns to Reno after UNLV’s second-half collapse
- Brewer: This loss to UNR will be tougher for UNLV to stomach
- The Fremont Cannon visits Las Vegas this weekend and UNLV plans to keep it here
- Brewer: With the exception of football rivalry, UNLV is clearly superior to UNR
- All UNLV Football Coverage
BOISE, Idaho — After living through the past four games — three double-digit road losses and a kick to the teeth against UNR — it’s easy to forget there’s still a good chance UNLV (1-7, 1-2) will win again this year.
The way the Rebels’ schedule was set up, their best chance for victories was going to be at the beginning and the end of the year. They only managed one victory in that home four-pack, but now at least they’re through the roughest stretch of the year.
Saturday’s 32-7 defeat at Boise State (6-1, 3-0) was uninspiring, to say the least. And just because the schedule lightens up doesn’t mean UNLV will take advantage (see: Arizona, Northern).
Still, there are potentially some better days ahead, with both of the conference’s winless teams still on the schedule. So, here’s a look at the remaining five games and where they rank in terms of the Rebels’ chances to win:
1. At Colorado State
Saturday, Nov. 10 at 4 p.m.
It’s counterintuitive that a team working on a 19-game road losing streak would find its best chance for victory away from home, but that’s just the way it is. In fact the top two games on this list are both away from Sam Boyd Stadium because those home teams are just that bad.
Colorado State has had to go down to its third-string quarterback, though by the second week of November the first two guys may be capable of playing. No matter whom the Rams put behind center nobody has had much success at that spot. First-year coach Jim McElwain is searching for anything to go right, the exact type of situation the Rebels may be able to exploit.
2. At Hawaii
Saturday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.
Two teams. One game. Zero interest outside of both campuses, and by that point probably not much there, either.
It’s hard to figure out where both of these teams will be mentally by the end of the year. The game is right after Thanksgiving, which may or may not matter to the players on either side. And for the Rebels it may be extremely difficult to stay mentally focused on a mostly meaningless game at the end of the year while they’re presented with the distractions of Hawaii.
That said, the Warriors are so bad that this could go at the top of the list. First-year coach Norm Chow’s defensive line is down a few players, creating holes that the Rebels’ rushing attack should plow through.
Between these first two games, UNLV absolutely must snap that road losing streak. It won’t get any easier.
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m.
The Cowboys give up more than 30 points a game. Their lone victory was in overtime at Idaho, which on Saturday was getting beat at Louisiana Tech even worse than UNLV did. And, most importantly, Wyoming has an offense UNLV should actually be able to handle.
The Cowboys squeak into the top half of the national leaders in passing yardage, and they combine that with a mediocre rushing game. This isn’t to say that UNLV will roll to a win, just that at this stage it looks like the Rebels’ best last chance for another home victory.
4. New Mexico
Saturday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m.
In the preseason when people, including myself, tried to figure out how many victories the Rebels were likely to claim in 2012, this was one of them. That’s no longer a certainty.
In fact the Lobos, who are near bowl eligibility under first-year coach Bob Davie, will certainly be favored in Las Vegas. Their option attack will present the same type of problems as Air Force and, to a degree, UNR.
Of all the games that remain, this is the one that would probably hurt fans the most to lose. As bad as things have been for UNLV’s football program, it was often worse in Albuquerque. Losing to a man who has injected such life into New Mexico in just his first season would be the final straw for a lot of people who want to move on from UNLV coach Bobby Hauck.
5. At San Diego State
Saturday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.
UNLV doesn’t need to win this game because San Diego State is definitely the better team. To get closer to wins in the final four games, though, the Rebels need a much better performance than they had at Boise State.
The Aztecs’ give up a couple more passing yards per game than do the Rebels. Both rank in the 90s nationally.
As long as UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry is healthy and can play, there’s no reason the Rebels shouldn’t at least be competitive.