UNLV football:

By the numbers: Rebels road favorites again despite long losing streak

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Barry Wong / Special to the Sun

UNLV teammates Robert Waterman (79) and Jake Phillips (46) celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter against Western Illinois at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

Here we go again. Every week leading up to a UNLV road game feels like a slight variation of the one before, and that won’t change until the result does.

The Rebels (2-2) open league play Saturday at New Mexico (1-2) with momentum on their side and a 23-game road losing streak on their resume. One of those factors will win out when the teams kick off at 5 p.m. Las Vegas time. The game is on Root Sports and will stream online at UNLVrebels.com.

UNLV is already on its first winning streak since 2008 with back-to-back home victories. If the Rebels are able to snap their streak, it will be another huge benchmark (see the second figure below), but it may not be surprising, at least according to Las Vegas sports books:

2.5 — Points the Rebels are laying against the Lobos at several places in town. As of Monday evening, the number was minus-2 or minus-2.5, depending on where you looked.

That may seem surprising considering UNLV’s long losing streak away from home, but this is actually the third straight conference road game the Rebels are favored to win. Last year, they were favored by 1 at Colorado State and by 3 at Hawaii and lost both straight up.

10 — Years since UNLV’s last three-game winning streak. That stretch included two road victories and put John Robinson’s 2003 Rebels at 4-1 on the season.

That team followed it up with a three-game losing streak and finished 6-6, but even that scenario sounds pretty good to UNLV fans right about now. And in case the Rebels handle their business this week, the last four-game winning streak was in 2000.

But we’ll look at that more if the Rebels get there.

10-10 — UNLV’s all-time record against New Mexico. The Lobos are the only current Mountain West members against which the Rebels don’t have a losing record.

The only other one that’s close — Wyoming — will stay where it is for the next two seasons. The Cowboys and Rebels don’t play again until 2015.

Here’s UNLV’s all-time record against its conference foes:

Air Force 5-13, Boise State 3-5, Colorado State 6-14-1, Fresno State 4-11, Hawaii 8-14, UNR 15-23, San Diego State 8-14, San Jose State 5-11-1, Utah State 7-13, Wyoming 10-11.

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UNLV junior running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence runs past Western Illinois junior defensive back Martinez Davis in the fourth quarter at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

24.5 — Average yards per carry for Shaquille Murray-Lawrence in the fourth quarter this season. He has 196 yards and a touchdown on eight carries over the team’s four fourth quarters.

What does this mean? Probably not much. Murray-Lawrence’s big yards have come on late-game plays when the outcome is already decided. In the case of Minnesota and Arizona, he did so against backups.

Still, it’s earned him more carries, and thus far, he’s done well with those, too. Over the other three quarters, Shaq-Mu — nickname credit to UNLV Sports Information Director Mark Wallington — has 69 yards on 14 carries. That’s nowhere near his awesome fourth-quarter total, but 4.9 yards per carry will keep earning you playing time.

45.6 — Sophomore Logan Yunker’s average yards per punt. The Arbor View High grad was named the Mountain West Player of the Week after averaging 44.7 yards over six kicks and landing two inside the 20-yard line.

Yunker, who sat out last season after starting his career at UNR, has been a great addition for the Rebels. His average per punt is the sixth highest in the country among punters with at least 20 attempts.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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