If UNLV is to make a late run to a bowl, the Rebels are going to have to work for it.
The Mountain West, which released the 2018 football schedule Thursday, gave UNLV a challenging final month of the season.
The Rebels play Western Division champion Fresno State at Sam Boyd Stadium on Nov. 3, travel to San Diego State and Hawaii the following two weeks, and close the season at home against rival UNR on Nov. 24.
“That last month is interesting when you look at those four games, especially with road games at San Diego State and Hawaii back to back,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “You can’t fly out of San Diego (at night), and they always play night games, so it’s a tough deal because you’re probably stuck there until Sunday morning or a long bus ride back. And then you have Hawaii, which makes it a short week.”
UNLV, which opens Sept. 1 at Southern California, was 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the conference last season.
Sanchez enters his fourth season, having increased the victory total by one each of the previous three seasons. The Rebels fell short of a bowl last year by one game, and they haven’t made the postseason since the 2013 season when they played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Next season’s schedule can be broken into three parts.
The first four games are against nonconference opponents, with the Sept. 22 trip to Arkansas State looking pivotal. UNLV probably will enter the game 2-1, and the Red Wolves have won the Sun Belt Conference five of the past seven seasons and played in bowls seven consecutive years.
UNLV then gets a bye before entering conference play, with the next three games against Mountain Division teams. The Rebels should be competitive in each one, especially with two at home.
Finally, the Rebels play fellow Western Division opponents in the final five games.
“It’s an interesting schedule when you look at the way it’s broken up,” Sanchez said. “It’s really orderly.”
UNLV’s 2018 football schedule
Sept. 1, at Southern California
Sept. 8, Texas-El Paso
Sept. 15, Prairie View A&M
Sept. 22, at Arkansas State
Oct. 6, New Mexico
Oct. 13, at Utah State
Oct. 20, Air Force
Oct. 27, at San Jose State
Nov. 3, Fresno State
Nov. 10, at San Diego State
Nov. 17, at Hawaii
Nov. 24, UNR
Game times will be announced later.