Five burning questions for UNLV’s football game against No. 19 San Diego State at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium:
1. How much did Sunday night’s shooting put the season in perspective?
The outcomes of sports events seem so trivial in the wake of a tragedy, especially when it hits home. Results of games should always be held in proper perspective, that they aren’t life and death, but that doesn’t always happen. It is difficult to think about games being played so soon after Sunday’s mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, but they also serve as part of the healing process.
2. Where will the Rebels be emotionally?
They can have trouble focusing this week, or they can use the shooting as a way to rally and fight hard for Las Vegas. Coach Tony Sanchez will have to figure where his players are emotionally and react accordingly. Not easy.
3. How will the fans respond?
It could be three hours of escape, but there will be reminders that night from an expected moment of silence to signs in the stands. It won’t be football as usual.
4. What about San Diego State’s response?
Three Aztecs assistant coaches have ties to the Rebels. Jeff Horton and Bobby Hauck are former UNLV head coaches, and Hunkie Cooper played for the Rebels and later coached Canyon Springs High School. They have family and friends in the valley, so it will be an emotional week for them. There also are five players from valley high schools on San Diego State’s roster.
5. What about the game itself?
The Aztecs are 10½-point favorites, and this looks to be the toughest remaining game on UNLV’s schedule. It’s a matchup of running backs, with San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny leading the Mountain West with 164.6 yards per game and UNLV’s Lexington Thomas next at 142.8.