UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield against Idaho State on Aug. 27, 2022 in Las Vegas.
Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics
UNLV football coach Marcus Arroyo insists his Rebels are no longer the team everybody wants to play.
“We’re over getting circled on the schedule,” Arroyo said after UNLV’s 52-21 season-opening victory on Saturday night against Idaho State. “That’s over.”
The Rebels, ranked No. 10 in the Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings this week, led Idaho State 45-7 at the half and outgained the Bengals 554-241. The victory in front of 19,579 at Allegiant Stadium turned out to be UNLV’s biggest win since a 56-23 victory over Southern Utah to open the 2019 season.
Idaho State, like Southern Utah, is a Football Championship (Division I-AA) school from the Big Sky Conference. UNLV, though, lost to Eastern Washington of the Big Sky in overtime, 35-33, to open last season.
“I am happy with the growth,” said Arroyo, who is now 3-16 as the Rebels head coach. “I like to see the camaraderie. I like to see the way we practice. I like to see the way we prepare. It’s different. It’s absolutely different. This was a chance for our team to see the fruits of their labor.”
Idaho State, which went 1-10 last year, has now been outscored 101-31 in two games in the state of Nevada over the last two seasons. The Bengals lost 49-10 in Reno to the Nevada Wolf Pack last year.
The Mountain West went 3-2 in its five season-opening games last weekend. No. 6 Nevada held off New Mexico State 23-12 on the road and No. 1-ranked Utah State beat Connecticut at home 31-20 in the other two Mountain West victories. The two Mountain West losses were to Power Five schools as Vanderbilt of the SEC destroyed No. 12 Hawaii 63-10 in Honolulu and Illinois of the Big Ten whipped No. 9 Wyoming 38-6 at Champaign, Ill.
“I know the guys were excited to play,” said former Nevada assistant coach Timmy Chang, who was making his debut as Hawaii’s head coach. “Their intentions were in the right place.”
The loss is the second largest at home in Hawaii’s history, behind just a 62-7 loss to USC on Sept. 4, 1999. Vanderbilt finished 2-10 last season but one of its victories was also against a Mountain West team (Colorado State) on the road.
“The result is what it is,” said Chang, who went to Colorado State with former Nevada head coach Jay Norvell after last season before accepting Hawaii’s top job. “For me, it’s back to the drawing board.”
Utah State, which won the Mountain West championship last year, fell behind 14-0 against Connecticut before outscoring the Huskies 31-6 the rest of the way. Utah State Quarterback Logan Bonner completed 20-of-29 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns and Calvin Tyler rushed for 161 yards in 33 carries.
“I was a little winded coming into the fourth quarter,” Tyler said. “I’m ready to get back to practice and get back in shape.”
Utah State did pile up 31 first downs and 542 total yards on offense and had 11 tackles for a loss on defense. Aggies head coach Blake Anderson, though, wasn’t thrilled with the 11-point victory at home over an independent program that went 1-11 last year.
“It’s a win,” said Anderson, whose Aggies will travel to Alabama this week. “That’s the best I can say. Definitely not a polished win by any means.”
Nevada beat New Mexico State (2-10 as an independent last year) despite getting outgained 303-257. The 257 total yards on offense is the lowest by a Wolf Pack team in the regular season since it gained 226 against San Diego State in a 17-13 win on Nov. 9, 2019. The Pack had just 242 yards in its 52-24 bowl game loss to Western Michigan last season after much of its starting offense offensive coaching staff left the program.
The Wolf Pack offense generated just two touchdowns against New Mexico State despite taking the ball away five times on four interceptions and a fumble. The Pack, though, had more points in the second quarter (28) alone last year in a 55-28 win over New Mexico State than it did in four quarters on Saturday.
“The (five turnovers) was the difference in the game,” New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Wyoming’s offense also struggled at Illinois. The Cowboys had just 10 first downs (none on passes) and 212 total yards. Former Utah State quarterback Andrew Peasley was just 5-of-20 for 30 yards in his Wyoming debut.
“Our guys will band together,” said Wyoming coach Craig Bohl, who is now 45-51 as Wyoming’s coach since the start of the 2014 season.
No. 2 San Diego State, No. 3 Fresno State, No. 4 Air Force and No. 5 Boise State will open their seasons this weekend as will No. 7 Colorado State, No. 8 San Jose State and No. 11 New Mexico.
Fresno State, San Jose State, New Mexico and Air Force will each open their seasons this week at home against FCS teams. Cal Poly will be at Fresno State and Portland State will be at San Jose State on Thursday while Northern Iowa will travel to Air Force and Maine will be at New Mexico on Saturday.
Three Mountain West teams will open their seasons against Power Five schools on Saturday. Colorado State will debut at Michigan while San Diego State will host Arizona and Boise State will host Oregon State.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Aug. 29:
1. UTAH STATE (1-0, 0-0): Last week: Utah State 31, Connecticut 20. This week: Utah State at Alabama, Saturday.
2. SAN DIEGO STATE (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Arizona at San Diego State, Saturday.
3. FRESNO STATE (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Cal Poly at Fresno State, Thursday.
4. AIR FORCE (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Northern Iowa at Air Force, Saturday.
5. BOISE STATE (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Boise State at Oregon State, Saturday.
6. NEVADA (1-0, 0-0): Last week: Nevada 23, New Mexico State 12. This week: Texas State at Nevada, Saturday.
7. COLORADO STATE (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Colorado State at Michigan, Saturday.
8. SAN JOSE STATE (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Portland State at San Jose State, Thursday.
9. WYOMING (0-1, 0-0): Last week: Illinois 38, Wyoming 6. This week: Tulsa at Wyoming, Saturday.
10. UNLV (1-0, 0-0): Last week: UNLV 52, Idaho State 21. This week: Idle.
11. NEW MEXICO (0-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Maine at New Mexico, Saturday.
12. HAWAII (0-1, 0-0): Last week: Vanderbilt 63, Hawaii 10. This week: Western Kentucky at Hawaii, Saturday.