UNLV Football: First Look At The 2022 Schedule
The Rebels won’t have it easy as they look to make a jump toward bowl eligibility in 2022.
Little will come easily in 2022.
The Mountain West Conference unveiled its full 2022 football schedule earlier this month and, for the UNLV Rebels, the path back to respectability doesn’t seem to have a lot of gimmes along the way. If Marcus Arroyo’s team is going to secure its first bowl bid since 2013, it’s likely you won’t be able to say they didn’t earn it.
🚨2⃣0⃣2⃣2⃣ 🏈Schedule is Out🚨
— UNLV Football (@unlvfootball) February 16, 2022
Here’s what the week-by-week schedule looks like with Bill Connelly’s preseason SP+ rankings, where UNLV is 109th overall, in parentheses:
September 3 – vs. Idaho State (88th at end of 2021)
September 10 – at California (74)
September 17 – vs. North Texas (84)
September 24 – at Utah State (91)
October 1 – vs. New Mexico (126)
October 8 – at San Jose State (96)
October 15 – vs. Air Force (65)
October 22 – at Notre Dame (8)
November 5 – at San Diego State (67)
November 12 – vs. Fresno State (39)
November 19 – at Hawaii (122)
November 26 – vs. Nevada (120)
While the top two teams in the West, at least on paper right now, seem clear-cut, the upheaval in the division provides a rosier outlook for the Rebels than they’ve had in some time. In Connelly’s division preview, SP+ projects UNLV to have a roughly one-in-three probability of getting to 6-6.
Beyond that, what are the biggest initial takeaways?
1. Can the Rebels build a sustainable home-field advantage early?
On its face, it would seem that UNLV will have a number of “coin flip” games on its hands, but much of the work in getting to six wins may happen in the friendly confines of Allegiant Stadium. Idaho State isn’t the same kind of threat that Eastern Washington was a year ago because of an anemic offense which will have plenty to prove, while North Texas surged late in 2021 but did so mostly against lousy Conference USA competition and New Mexico still has to find a pulse on offense to go with its improving defense. Going 2-1, at a minimum, in those three games will go a long way toward determining the season’s ultimate outcome.
2. An early October reprieve?
UNLV has finished above .500 in Mountain West play since helping to found the conference in 1999, but the home date against New Mexico on 10/1 and subsequent road trip to San Jose State on 10/8 could be crucial for helping to buck that long-time trend. Crazy as it sounds, it isn’t inconceivable that the Rebels host Air Force in the middle of the month with a 3-0 record in conference play, especially if you recall that they fell just four points shy up upending Utah State last season.
3. November starts rough and ends nicely.
The schedule makers did UNLV no favors in having the Rebels face Fresno State and San Diego State back-to-back to kick off November, something that West division mates Hawaii, Nevada and San Jose State won’t have to do, though the season ends with a much more forgiving duo of teams starting over in the Warriors and rival Wolf Pack. Should the Rebels manage to steal a road win somewhere earlier in the season, it’s not out of the question that they could battle for the Fremont Cannon and a bowl bid by the finale.
Hardest stretch: at Notre Dame, at San Diego State, vs. Fresno State
Easiest stretch: at Hawaii, vs. Nevada
Guaranteed wins: vs. Idaho State
Guaranteed losses: at Notre Dame
Worse than 50/50 games: at California, at Utah State, vs. Air Force, at San Diego State, vs. Fresno State
50/50 games: vs. North Texas, at San Jose State, at Hawaii, vs. Nevada
Better than 50/50 games: vs. New Mexico
Preliminary projected record: 5-7