UNLV’s football team has eight games and almost 11 months without a victory.
The bad news? It could get a whole lot worse.
The Rebels (0-3) now hit the meat of their schedule heading into tonight’s 7 p.m. game at Sam Boyd Stadium against Air Force (1-1), which has had two weeks to prepare and get over a painful near-miss at Michigan (31-25).
“I think over the next five weeks we play five bowl teams, and three of those are on the road,” UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck pointed out.
The next five games in order:
* Tonight against an Air Force team that has won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Rebels, including five in a row. The Falcons lead the nation in rushing with an average of 387 yards per game and blew out UNLV, 45-17, last year in Colorado Springs.
* Sept. 29 at Utah State: The Aggies (2-1) nearly upset Wisconsin in Mad City last weekend after knocking off a good Utah team at home. And I’m sure Utah State QB coach Mike Sanford will have his team focused for this one.
* Oct. 6 at Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs (2-0) head to Illinois tonight ranked third in the nation in scoring (56.0 ppg) and fifth in total offense (600 yards per game) thanks to impressive wins over Houston and Rice. The defending WAC champs have the nation’s third longest winning streak (nine games) including an impressive come-from-behind win at Nevada last year.
* Oct 13 vs. Nevada: The Wolf Pack (2-1), who won at Cal to open the season, have won seven in a row in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon, including a 37-0 wipeout last year in Reno.
* Oct. 20 at Boise State: Okay, I know the Broncos (2-1) have struggled offensively without Kellen Moore and Doug Martin so far this season. But I’m guessing Chris Petersen will have things figured out by the time the Rebels visit the Smurf Turf.
Actually, depending on how San Diego State (2-1) does at home tonight against much-improved San Jose State (2-1), it could be six in a row against potential bowl teams with four of those on the road.
Tonight’s Mountain West opener concludes what was supposed to be a very beneficial opening month of the schedule that featured four straight home games against lower-level FBS teams like Minnesota and Washington State and a matchup with a FCS team in Northern Arizona.
But the Rebels have whiffed so far in all three … although all three have gone down to the final drive.
Strange as it sounds, tonight might actually be UNLV’s best shot at a win until a Nov. 3 home game with New Mexico.
“I think we match up better with Air Force than we have in the past,” Hauck said. “I think we have the personnel to perform better than we have.”
UNLV enters the game ranked third in the Mountain West in run defense allowing 127.7 yards per game. But defending the run against Air Force’s vaunted triple-option is a whole different animal than facing a Northern Arizona offense.
Check back tonight for a game story and postgame video interviews.