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UNLV an underdog most of the season

UNLV was widely expected to be 1-1 at this point, but how the Rebels got there wasn’t.

They were blown out 58-13 at Arizona and then barely got by Northern Colorado 13-12.

Not the types of games expected from a team coming off a bowl appearance, especially after coach Bobby Hauck spent the preseason talking about his high expectations for his players.

Maybe he will be proven right in the end, but those two performances didn’t spark much hope elsewhere for the rest of the football season, and the probable betting lines and computer numbers indicate the Rebels are in for some rough times.

The Gold Sheet’s Bruce Marshall said the Rebels should be favored Nov. 1 against New Mexico and possibly a week later against Air Force, and the betting line could make UNLV a slight underdog against Fresno State on Oct. 10 and Hawaii on Nov. 22.

But UNLV probably will be at least a touchdown underdog in its other games, including Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff against Northern Illinois at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Rebels are 9½-point underdogs in that game.

Using a computer-based system, TeamRankings.com sets the Rebels’ most likely record at 3-10, with just a 1.9 percent chance of playing their way into bowl eligibility. UNLV’s best chance of victory, according to the website, is against New Mexico, with the Rebels given a 60.8-percent chance of winning.

They have a 42.9 percent chance of beating Air Force and a 25.5-percent shot of defeating Fresno State. The Rebels have less than a 20 percent chance against any of their other opponents.

UNLV’s most difficult game is Nov. 15 at Brigham Young, with the site giving the Rebels a 0.5 percent chance. Their next most difficult games are Sept. 20 at Houston (3.5 percent) and this weekend against Northern Illinois (4 percent).

The computer projections as well as the probable odds are based on the results from UNLV’s first two games, and as Marshall said, plenty can change.

But as for now, Marshall sees UNLV as a 7-point favorite over New Mexico, and a pick ‘em against Air Force with a chance to be a slight favorite. He projects Hawaii as a 5- to 6-point favorite and for Fresno State to be favored by less than a touchdown.

“Shoot, the Rebels might be favored the way Fresno’s going,” Marshall said. “We have really downgraded Fresno. We’ve got that game right now as a pick. That’s just how much I’ve downgraded Fresno. The books will make Fresno a favorite.”

Marshall also sees the regular-season finale against UNR on Nov. 29 as being close, with the Wolf Pack probably a 7-point favorite.

“I’m not convinced about the Wolf Pack yet,” he said. “I think they’re better than last year, but I think they might get smacked by Arizona this week.”

Marshall said UNLV should be double-digit underdogs in its other five games, all on the road, with BYU possibly being favored by as many as four touchdowns.

Though the numbers don’t line up in UNLV’s favor, Hauck hasn’t moved off his assessment of his team. He knows 11 games remain, and much can happen.

“You don’t have a crystal ball,” Hauck said. “You don’t know how seasons are going to play out, but in terms of our team, I like our team.”

NOTE — UNLV senior offensive left tackle Brett Boyko was rated by the top prospect for next year’s Canadian Football League Draft by the CFL Scouting Bureau. Boyko (6 feet 7 inches, 310 pounds) is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and he also is considered an NFL Draft prospect. The CFL prospect list is of players from Canada.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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