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Bowl or bust: 101 predictions for UNLV football

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L.E. Baskow

UNLV Rebels quarterback Armani Rogers (1) laterals the ball to a running back versus the Utah State Aggies during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

The Rebels' dreams of a bowl game were crushed on the final day of the 2017 season with a loss at rival UNR, and the 39 weeks since that defeat have been leading up to Saturday's 2018 opener at USC.

The Rebels know this campaign will be defined in very simple terms: If they earn that elusive bowl invitation, the season is a success; if they don't, well...

In an attempt to plot out the how the next 12 weeks will play out, here are 101 predictions for the UNLV football team:

1. How many games will UNLV win? 6

2. How many home games will UNLV win? 4

3. How many games will UNLV win by double digits? 4

4. What will be the longest winning streak? 3 games (Week 6 at Utah State, Week 7 vs. Air Force, Week 8 at San Jose State)

5. What will be the longest losing streak? 3 games (Week 9 vs. Fresno State, Week 10 at San Diego State, Week 11 at Hawaii)

6. Biggest margin of victory? 35 points (Week 3 vs. Prairie View A&M)

7. Biggest margin of defeat? 20 points (Week 1 at USC, 41-21)

8. What will UNLV’s point differential be for the season? Plus-12 (UNLV 372, Opponents 360)

9. Will Lexington Thomas break UNLV’s all-time rushing record? No

Thomas needs 1,250 yards to set the record, and after running for 1,336 yards last year, it’s within reach. But with a healthy Charles Williams and a healthier Armani Rogers dipping into his carries, Thomas won’t get enough attempts to break the record.

10. How many rushing yards for Thomas? 1207

11. How many yards per rush for Thomas? 6.1

12. How many touchdowns will Thomas score? 10

13. How many rushing yards for Charles Williams? 786

14. How many yards per rush for Williams? 5.5

15. How many rushing touchdowns will Williams score? 8

16. Who will record the most rushing yards in a single game? Thomas (210 yards at San Jose State)

17. How many runs of 50+ yards will Thomas have? 4

18. How many 100-yard games will Thomas record? 5

19. How many 100-yard games will other UNLV runners record? 7

20. Who will record the longest run of the season? Thomas, 72 yards (Week 3 vs. Prairie View A&M)

21. What will be Armani Rogers’ completion percentage? 55.4 percent

22. How many passes will Rogers complete? 143

23. How many passes of longer than 25 yards will Rogers complete? 26

This may end up being a more important statistic than Rogers’ completion percentage. Opponents will spend all year trying to slow the Rebels’ run game, which should give Rogers plenty of opportunities for quick strikes down the field. He’s got to take advantage and hit on enough deep balls to keep the defense honest.

24. How many touchdowns will Rogers throw? 14

25. How many interceptions will Rogers throw? 8

26. How many times will Rogers be sacked? 30

27. What will be Rogers high for passing yards in a single game? 235 yards (Week 11 at Hawaii)

28. What will be Rogers high for passing touchdowns in a single game? 3 (Week 11 at Hawaii)

29. How many yards will Rogers run for? 820

30. How many rushing touchdowns will Rogers score? 11

31. How many games will Rogers start? 11

32. How many game-winning drives will Rogers lead? 2 (Week 6 at Utah State, Week 7 vs. Air Force)

After starting the season 2-3, including a disappointing Week 5 home loss to New Mexico, the Rebels will find themselves on the brink until Rogers brings UNLV from behind in the fourth quarter to win back-to-back thrillers.

33. How many games will Rogers lead UNLV in carries? 2

34. How many games will Rogers lead UNLV in rushing yards? 4

35. How many games will Thomas lead UNLV in carries? 8

36. How many games will Williams lead UNLV in carries? 3

37. What will be Rogers’ longest completion? 65 yards

38. How many overtime games will UNLV play? 1 (Week 7 vs. Air Force)

39. How many games will UNLV punt three times or fewer? 2 (Week 3 vs. Prairie View A&M, Week 11 at Hawaii)

40. How many times will UNLV go for it on fourth down? 26

41. How many fourth downs will UNLV convert? 16

42. What will be UNLV’s highest-scoring game? 55 points (Week 3 vs. Prairie View A&M)

43. Who will lead UNLV in sacks? Jameer Outsey (4.0 sacks)

44. Who will lead UNLV in tackles for loss? Gabe McCoy (8.5 tackles for loss)

45. Who will lead UNLV in tackles? (Farrell Hester (85 total tackles)

46. How many sacks will UNLV record as a team? 18

This doesn’t seem like a huge number, but UNLV recorded just 11 sacks last year. New defensive coordinator Tim Skipper has pledged to put more pressure on opposing passers, and even this modest increase in sacks should make a big difference for the Rebels’ defense.

47. Will UNLV score a defensive touchdown? Yes

48. Who will lead UNLV in interceptions? Jericho Flowers

49. How many interceptions will Flowers have? 4

50. How many All-Mountain West first team selections will UNLV have? Three (Thomas, Flowers, Justin Polu)

51. How many 3-and-outs will the defense force? 45

52. Will UNLV return an interception for a touchdown? No

53. Will UNLV return a punt for a touchdown? No

54. Will UNLV return a kickoff for a touchdown? No

55. How many kickoffs will Lexington Thomas return? 2

56. Will UNLV allow a special teams touchdown? No

57. Which team will UNLV hold to the lowest point total? San Jose State (Week 8, 10 points)

58. How many games will UNLV record multiple sacks? 4

59. Will UNLV force a strip-sack and recovery? Yes

60. How many teams will UNLV hold below 50 percent conversion rate on third downs? 9

Opponents converted 43.8 percent of third downs against UNLV last year, and while the Rebels’ personnel doesn’t look much better on paper, Skipper’s aggressive system should help in this area.

61. How many accepted penalties will UNLV commit? 62

62. Will a UNLV player be ejected from a game? Yes

63. How many passes will Max Gilliam throw? 24

64. How many passes will Kenyon Oblad throw? 0

65. Who will lead UNLV in catches? Brandon Presley (51)

66. Who will lead UNLV in receiving yards? Presley (910 yards)

Presley came on strong down the stretch in 2017, catching 19 balls for 328 yards over the final five games. Extrapolated over a full 13-game schedule, that works out to 853 yards. Give Presley a slight bump for an added year of chemistry with Armani Rogers and it’s easy to envision him approaching a 1,000-yard season.

67. How many catches of 25+ will Presley make? 14

68. How many touchdowns will Presley catch? 5

69. How many touchdowns will Kendal Keys catch? 2

70. Who will score the first touchdown of the season? Rogers

71. Who will record the longest touchdown catch? Drew Tejchman (65 yards)

72. How many go-ahead touchdowns or field goals will UNLV score in the final two minutes? 3

73. How many go-ahead touchdowns or field goals will UNLV surrender in the final two minutes? 3

74. How many fourth-quarter punts will the UNLV defense force? 18

75. Which freshman will make the biggest impact on offense? Tyleek Collins

76. Which freshman will make the biggest impact on defense? Chris Manoa

77. How many Rebels will be selected in the NFL draft? 1 (Lexington Thomas)

78. How many yards per rush will UNLV opponents average? 5.2

79. What will be the highest attendance for a home game? 25,524 (Week 12 vs. UNR)

The last time UNLV hosted UNR in 2015, the season finale for both teams drew 23,569 fans. With UNLV need possibly needing a win to earn a bowl berth this time around, the fans will come out to watch.

80. Will UNLV recover an onside kick? Yes

81. Which UNLV players will record sacks? Jameer Outsey, Gabe McCoy, Bailey Laolagi, Kalo Uasike, Jericho Flowers, Salanoa-Alo Wily, Javin White, Roger Mann

82. Which UNLV players will record interceptions? Jericho Flowers, Javin White, Evan Austrie, Jocquez Kalili, Farrell Hester

83. Which UNLV players will score rushing touchdowns? Armani Rogers, Lexington Thomas, Charles Williams, Xzaviar Campbell, Tariq Hollandsworth, Max Gilliam

84. Which UNLV players will catch touchdown passes? Brandon Presley, Kendal Keys, Drew Tejchman, Tyleek Collins, Mekhi Stevenson, Lexington Thomas

85. Which Rebels will win Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors? Lexington Thomas, Armani Rogers

86. Which Rebels will win Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors? None

87. Will UNLV be invited to a bowl game? Yes

88. Which bowl game will UNLV be invited to? Hawaii Bowl

89. Who will be UNLV’s bowl opponent? Oregon

90. Will UNLV win the Hawaii bowl? No

91. What will be UNLV’s final record? 6-7

For the fourth consecutive year under Tony Sanchez, the Rebels will increase their final win total by one game. UNLV will be set up for a strong 2019 season.

92. Where will the UNLV offense rank in yards per game? 36th nationally

93. Where will UNLV rank in rushing offense? 16th

94. How many turnovers will UNLV commit? 14

95. How many takeaways will UNLV record? 16

96. What will be UNLV’s biggest win? Week 12 vs. UNR

97. What will be UNLV’s worst loss? Week 11 at Hawaii

98. Who will be UNLV’s offensive MVP? Armani Rogers

99. Who will be UNLV’s defensive MVP? Jericho Flowers

100. How many field goals will Evan Pantels make and miss? 21-of-27

101. Who will be the MVP of the Fremont Cannon Game? Charles Williams

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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