Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 | 6:42 p.m.
Simply put, something has got to give Saturday night at University Stadium in Albuquerque.
Will it be UNLV's 13-game road losing streak dating back to 2009? Or will it be New Mexico's 12-game losing streak, currently the nations' longest in Football Bowl Subdivision competition?
Ironically, the game between the Rebels (2-6, 1-2 Mountain West) and Lobos (0-9, 0-4) will be played on "Think Pink Night" with 2,000 pink pom-pons being passed out to fans. However, that's to celebrate breast cancer awareness, not lousy football.
Lousy is perhaps a kind of way putting the way things have gone for second-year Rebels' head coach Bobby Hauck and his squad away from Sam Boyd Stadium.
Eleven of the 13 road defeats have come under Hauck's guidance. The average margin of defeat in those contests has been an abysmal 35.7 points. The narrowest loss was 23 points last year at Idaho (30-7), a game the Rebels trailed 24-0 at halftime and was much more lopsided than the final score indicated.
The Rebels have been more competitive at home under Hauck as evidenced by a 38-35 victory over Colorado State two weeks ago and an impressive first half against No. 5 Boise State last week in an eventual 48-21 loss. So what gives on the road anyway?
"To me part of it may be youth, part of it is guys that haven't traveled much as a team," Hauck said. "I think we'll go play well this weekend."
As bad as things have gone on the road for the Rebels, it could be worse.
New Mexico, which fired head coach Mike Locksley on Sept. 25, is just 2-31 over the past three seasons. The Lobos rank dead last in the FBS in scoring offense (12.56 points per game), scoring defense (45.56 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (175.36) and 119th in total defense, allowing 507.89 yards per game.
The Lobos finally snapped a Mountain West Conference-record streak of nine consecutive quarters without a point in a 35-7 loss at San Diego State last week. Still, New Mexico finished with only 162 yards in total offense. Starting quarterback B.R. Holbrook has averaged just 74 yards passing in his last four games.
So if the Rebels, who opened as 7-point favorites despite their road futility, are ever going to win another game away from Sam Boyd Stadium, this would appear to be the one.
"We need to go play well," Hauck said. "It's more about just going and playing well. Home, road, anywhere … I don't think we have any margin for error right now. It's not about being in another stadium. It's about us just going and having to execute closer to perfect than some teams to get wins."
UNLV has won three in a row against New Mexico, including a 45-10 blowout at Sam Boyd Stadium. And as fate would have it, the Rebels' last road win came in Albuquerque, 34-17, back on Oct. 24, 2009. That victory snapped a school-record 20-game conference road losing streak against a Lobos squad that also had current interim head coach George Barlow on the sidelines with Locksley serving a one-game suspension because of a physical altercation with one of his assistant coaches.
"That was a three-hour flight that felt like 10 minutes," senior wide receiver Phillip Payne, who caught an 8-yard touchdown pass for UNLV's first score in the win, recalled. "It was all good."
"It was definitely nice getting a win down there," added senior linebacker Nate Carter. "It's nice to win on the road and enjoy the trip back. Hopefully we can get that done this weekend."
No one would be happier if that happened than Hauck, who seemed tired about talking about the road losing streak this week.
"Well, we've got to do it (getting a road win) sometime," he said. "It's the one we play this week. We might as well try and do it this week. I don't think there's anyone involved who wants to wait any longer."
REBEL NOTES: Sophomore quarterback Caleb Herring, who was knocked woozy when he took a helmet under the chin from cornerback Ebenezer Makinde in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to Boise State, is okay and is expected to start. … Hauck said he expects five players who were suspended for the Boise State game, including running back Tim Cornett and linebackers Tani Maka and Princeton Jackson, to be cleared to play this week. … UNLV has never won back-to-back trips to New Mexico. … Senior wide receiver Phillip Payne needs four touchdown receptions in UNLV's final four games to tie the Mountain West career touchdown reception mark of 30 held by former BYU star Austin Collie.