Published Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 | 7 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 | 11:11 p.m.
Arizona 58, UNLV 13
The Rebels were always going to be 0-2 at this point. That’s not a surprise.
What’s shocking is just how bad this performance was and what it means for a team entering the most important four-game stretch of its season.
Central Michigan was perceived to be a winnable game, yet Bobby Hauck had to sit out quarterback Nick Sherry in the second half of this one just to protect his psyche. There’s nothing positive to take from this. The only hope the Rebels have is that they can let this game end tonight and not carry it with them the rest of the season.
Arizona 51, UNLV 13
8:21 remaining in the fourth quarter
Shaquille Murray-Lawrence’s per-carry average got another big boost with his 79-yard scamper into the end zone. It also allowed over bettors to breath easy as a game that appeared set to sail over the number — 63.5 most places — slowed to a crawl in the second half.
Arizona 48, UNLV 6
9:54 remaining in the third quarter
Arizona adds to the beatdown with a 29-yard field goal. The only intrigue at this point is how Bobby Hauck manages his personnel with regards to keeping his starters healthy for next week, which is looking less and less like a winnable game.
Arizona 45, UNLV 6
Read what I wrote below, but change the two to a three. Nick Sherry is completely off his game and may be better served watching the second half from the bench.
There’s bad, then there’s UNLV’s first half.
Sherry now has three turnovers for the game and three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the season. There’s really nothing positive to say about the Rebels tonight.
Few expected them to win and only a few more — including me — thought they could keep it close. But only the biggest Rebels detractors thought the game would be this ugly.
Sherry is 6-for-22, Ka’Deem Carey is outrushing the Rebels by 42 yards, never mind the other Wildcats rushers. This is one UNLV will try to forget ever happened as soon as it’s over.
Arizona 38, UNLV 6
6:59 remaining in the second quarter
Nick Sherry now has two interceptions returned for touchdowns this season. Arizona is scoring seemingly every two minutes of game time and fans are already heading for the exits.
The Rebels, in my opinion, were always going to lose these first two games. This is something else, though. This will be hard to bounce back from.
Arizona 31, UNLV 6
8:37 remaining in the second quarter
What’s worse: UNLV sending out the punt team with 10 guys and no punter or allowing Ka’Deem Carey to run into the end zone, untouched, again? While you mull that over, start guessing how many points Arizona will put up tonight because at this point it seems like the Wildcats can pick a score.
Carey’s second score came on third down and only further buries the stake in the Rebels’ hearts right now. Scoring now is less about winning and more about saving face.
Arizona 24, UNLV 6
13:33 remaining in the second quarter
Here’s the order of events: UNLV scores. A penalty is assessed on the ensuing kickoff for spiking the football. UNLV bobbles the extra point attempt. Arizona returns the short kickoff to the 42-yard line. Ka’Deem Carey scores a 58-yard touchdown nearly untouched on his first rushing attempt.
Even when UNLV succeeds it screws something else up.
Arizona 17, UNLV 6
14:49 remaining in the second quarter
At the exact moment UNLV needed to create something -- anything -- in their favor, Devante Davis came through with a 69-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second quarter.
Of course, it couldn’t simply end there. No, instead the Rebels bobbled the extra point attempt and Davis spiked the ball so the kickoff will move back 15 yards. Even when UNLV does something right it can’t help but screw something up.
Still, it’s something. UNLV needed something. Now it’s on the defense to hold off Arizona’s onslaught.
Arizona 17, UNLV 0
3:25 remaining in the first quarter
Nick Sherry ran the ball once with no harm done. The second time it may have broken UNLV’s back before the first quarter is even out.
While trying to evade defenders, Sherry got hit and lost the ball. Arizona picked up the fumble and took it inside the 10, where B.J. Denker finished it off with a 4-yard touchdown run, his second of the game.
I thought UNLV would be able to score and keep this game close. I was wrong. The number moved all the way up to make the Rebels a two-touchdown underdog before kickoff and they’re going to be lucky to finish within 10 points of that.
Arizona 10, UNLV 0
8:10 remaining in the first quarter
UNLV is in trouble and Ka’Deem Carey hasn’t even seen the field yet.
Quarterback B.J. Denker polished off an 8-play, 85-yard drive with a 35-yard rushing score to put the Wildcats up by double digits. When Arizona keeps the ball on the ground they’re having a lot of success so far, no matter who’s carrying it.
The defense knew it was in for an uphill battle. The problem right now is UNLV’s offense hasn’t been able to do much of anything against Arizona. The Rebels have only one first down and Nick Sherry is 1-for-5 passing.
Arizona 3, UNLV 0
11:30 remaining in the first quarter
The Rebels are immediately back on their heels, although at least the deficit is only at three.
Jake Smith finished off Arizona’s first drive with a 41-yard field goal after the Wildcats’ drive stalled following a promising start. Senior Dan Jenkins carried the ball well for Arizona while Ka’Deem Carey is expected to come off the bench and get the bulk of the carries.
UNLV actually started the game with the ball but went three-and-out in about 40 seconds. Certainly not the start the Rebels were looking for but, like I said, the damage so far is minimal. They’ll get another chance here.
The number is moving further away from UNLV football as the hours get closer to today’s home opener against Arizona (1-0). Kickoff at Sam Boyd Stadium is at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Three days ago, locals could bet the Rebels (0-1) at plus-10, but as of this afternoon the number was plus-13 most places with only a couple of plus-12s still on some boards. All of the money is coming in on the Wildcats, although it’s more likely it’s the public moving the line. Here’s why:
As far as I know, there haven’t been any injuries in the past 48 hours, so the move is more typical of a game that gets action closer to the weekend. And if an outsider looks at this game — traditionally bad UNLV, fresh off a 28-point loss vs. a team getting the nation’s leading rusher back — they’re going to lay the points.
There’s some value in the favorites at 10, but at nearly two touchdowns the odds seem to favor the underdogs. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has a tremendous record against the spread, if not a great actual record, and last year the Rebels kept every home game close. They never lost by more than eight.
Yes, Arizona may be better than any team UNLV played at home last year, but not dramatically so. The Wildcats’ defense doesn’t appear to be anything special, and as long as the Rebels don’t commit a few turnovers, they should be able to score enough to stay in the game late.
If they do that, the Rebels obviously have a chance to cover the spread and maybe even pull off the upset. Before they can think about the win, though, they need to focus on not making the mistakes that have derailed them so many times.
Bern’s prediction: UNLV’s going to keep this one close. The Rebels won’t win, and if they make a couple of early mistakes it could unravel, but I think they’ll hang in and play to a narrow defeat that gives them confidence going into the most important four-game stretch of their season. Arizona 36, UNLV 27