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UNLV had a few bright spots last year, but ultimately disappointed with four overall wins and a 3-5 record in the MWC. With another bad year, head coach Tony Sanchez would be on the hot seat, failing to make a mark in his first three seasons. In the spring, he put all his faith into freshman, dual-threat quarterback Armani Rogers, who beat out two guys that started in 2016.

Rogers could be good down the line, but expecting him to come in and do much better than what was on the field last season would be a stretch. The Rebels weren’t terrible offensively, averaging 31.8 points per game, scoring at least 40 in all four of their wins, but that was because of the ground game. Rogers will at least have tools around him starting with studs Devonte Boyd and Brandon Presley at wide out. Both picked up injuries last season, so their status is extremely important. A ground attack that ran for 240 yards per game can be just as good with the athletic Rogers setting things up. Charles Williams (763 yards) and Lexington Thomas (642 yards, 8 TDs) should top their numbers from a season ago. That’s made possible by a line that returns three starters, although the expected center (Sid Acosta) injured his knee in the spring.

Of course, none of that will matter if the defense continues to struggle after allowing 36.8 points per game last season. With only three starters back, there’s no guarantee this group will actually improve. Sophomore outside linebacker Gabe McCoy was talked about plenty in the spring, but his effectiveness alongside inexperienced players could be waned. The line is full of seniors and a couple returning starters, but none of those guys stand out. The secondary is full of new faces and replaces a group that only had five interceptions last season.

The Rebels should get at least one non-conference win, unless they can take down Idaho on the road after losing to them at home last year. The MWC schedule also opens up for them to win three more games with SJSU, USU and Hawaii all coming to Las Vegas. And if they can leave those games with wins, there’s still some possibility that UNLV can compete in trips to Fresno and Nevada.

Then again, does anyone want to bet on a freshman quarterback that could have one of the worst defenses in the conference again? Due to schedule, UNLV’s over/under is sitting around five or six wins. That’s definitely possible, but reaching more than six wins is unlikely making the bet on the over a tough pick. The Rebels have +4000 odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference, which would place them in fourth place in the West division.


2017 UNLV Rebels Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Howard
Sept. 9 at Idaho

Sept. 23 at Ohio State
Sept. 30 vs. San Jose State

Oct. 7 vs. San Diego State
Oct. 14 at Air Force
Oct. 21 vs. Utah State

Oct. 28 at Fresno State
Nov. 4 vs. Hawaii
Nov. 10 vs. BYU
Nov. 17 at New Mexico
Nov. 25 at Nevada

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