This might be my favorite day of the year. There is no tree, no presents, no turkey and trimmings. There isn’t anything overly festive about it.
But it’s the one day when all reason is disregarded in relation to UNLV football, the one time for its fans to dream a thousand dreams (or at least 12 regular-season ones).
It’s my seventh try at creating such fortune. So far I’m oh-for-six.
I absolutely believe, however, that within the next 80 or so years, perhaps around the time Bobby Hauck’s great-great-great grandson is arm wrestling elks in Montana, UNLV will navigate through a schedule unscathed.
You won’t find anyone who thinks this is that year, which is why that whole idea about yesterday being today’s memory and tomorrow being today’s dream fits.
At least for one day.
For the seventh time … why the Rebels will go undefeated this season.
At Minnesota, Aug. 29: If it’s true all one needs to be a fisherman is patience and a worm, you have to love Hauck’s chances to win in the state of 10,000 lakes. He is a seasoned fly fisherman from Big Timber, Mont., and if losing 20 straight road games hasn’t taught a guy patience, nothing will. I know that Gophers tend to eat worms, but smart wagering for the opener has trended toward UNLV head coach Gadabout Gaddis for some time now.
Vs. Arizona, Sept. 7: Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez has said he could start three different quarterbacks in as many weeks to begin the season while searching to replace the departed Matt Scott. Really? Three? Arizona will take UNLV about as seriously as Ryan Braun does detailed apologies, allowing the Rebels to end things by halftime.
Vs. Central Michigan, Sept. 14: Be honest — when are the Chippewas ever going to again have the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick as they did with offensive lineman Eric Fisher? And they still lost six games with him last season. It’s all downhill from here for the school that produced Thunder Dan Majerle.
Vs. Western Illinois, Sept. 21: Come on. How in the world can anyone expect the Fighting Leathernecks to focus on UNLV when way out on the horizon sits a Nov. 16 game against Indiana State and its new head coach, Mike “You should see these locker rooms in Terre Haute!” Sanford.
At New Mexico, Sept. 28: The win at Minnesota will have removed any sense of pressure for the Rebels to get things done in Albuquerque. You don’t want to play Hauck’s team when it’s all free-and-easy and confident while having jumped to a big lead away from home.
Well, you know, if that ever happens.
Vs. Hawaii, Oct. 12: The last time we saw the Warriors at Sam Boyd Stadium, UNLV whooped its way to a 40-20 victory in 2011, and rumors circulated the boys from the island spent far too much time partying on The Strip than preparing on The Field. Now, the Rebels get an off week to ready for Hawaii, which will be Maki Die Dead before things kick off. Extremely dead.
Is there another kind?
At Fresno State, Oct. 19: This is where the whole UNLV-will-go-unbeaten concept sort of becomes difficult to sell, given the Bulldogs will have scored 30 points before stepping off their bus. Not to worry. Hauck will go all Norman Dale in his pregame speech — “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners!” — and Jimmy Chitwood will kick a game-winning field goal as time expires for a 65-62 victory.
At UNR, Oct. 26: Easy. Forget the fact UNLV has lost eight straight to its rival by a combined score of something like 997-4. Chris Ault no longer strolls the sidelines for the Wolf Pack, meaning UNLV’s staff has a better-than-even chance not to be completely out-coached by those in blue. Get the red stuff ready. There’s a cannon to paint.
Vs. San Jose State, Nov. 2: R-J colleague Steve Carp attended San Jose State, and I have convinced even him that you don’t follow an 11-2 season by hiring a head coach from a nonscholarship program. If this were a baking battle of spice cakes between sports information directors, the Spartans win in a landslide. Instead, the Rebels will chew up a San Jose State team that lost three captains and several other key players from last year.
Vs. Utah State, Nov. 9: Few nationally draw Xs and Os better than Stew Morrill. Thankfully, he coaches basketball for the Aggies. The school that invented the “I Believe That We Will Win” chant will return to Logan mumbling “I Can’t Believe We Just Lost To UNLV.”
At Air Force, Nov. 21: The Falcons are in overreaction mode in Colorado Springs, responding to a 13-13 record the past two seasons by adopting more passing schemes and signing 14 players who weigh more than 255 pounds and five who are above 275. Chubby fighter pilots are not a good look and usually slow between the tackles, lacking the quickness to illegally chop block defensive linemen. Once the Falcons lose that not-so-honorable military tactic, what do they really have?
Vs. San Diego State, Nov. 30: Bob Toledo is now coordinating the offense for the Aztecs, but know this: All his tricks and gadgets won’t work against a disciplined, focused, intense, defense such as the one UNLV has offered during those preseason scrimmages in Ely the past few years.
Yes. The dream lives. At least for five more days.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.