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Can UNLV Make A Bowl Game This Season?

UNLV coach Tony Sanchez talks to his players during a time out in the second half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.
(AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

UNLV coach Tony Sanchez talks to his players during a time out in the second half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

Somehow, someway ... football season is upon us again. 

The annual NFL Hall of Fame Game is next week, kicking off the preseason. 

Are you an obsessive -- or just plain nuts -- if you decide to bet on relatively meaningless games? 

And college football is also coming up. 

Can UNLV or UNR shake off years of disappointment and do well this season? 

World Cup

The sports books around Las Vegas were happy with the handle for this year's World Cup, but Mitch Moss with VSIN told State of Nevada while the handle was better than 2014, bookmakers told him the rate of change wasn't as great as it was between 2010 and 2014.

"They were happy with it but it wasn't the same kind of increase as they say in the previous World Cup," he said.

The trouble was the cup didn't have the U.S., Italy, the Netherlands and Chile, which are all big draws for bettors.

The 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar, so the tournament was moved to November because it is too hot. Moss believes the different date will hurt the handle, since it will compete with the later weeks in the NFL season.

Preseason football

Speaking of football, the NFL preseason is not far away. While the games are meaningless for fans, Moss said bettors love them.

"Some professional bettors will tell you that their favorite time of year to bet is, in fact, NFL preseason," he said.

Why? During the regular season, every team is pushing hard to win, but in the preseason, they may not work as hard. Plus, coaches are more open about their strategy for each game.

Moss said if bettors can pick out the coaches that are going to push each game and cover the spread, they can make money.

NFL regular season

It is the busiest time of year for sportsbooks, Moss said. From a work perspective, the time of year is tough on the books because there are no days off.

But from the point of view of making money, he said "you can't stop this. This sport gets bigger and bigger every year and the betting handle increases every single year."

Good value bets

Moss said the NFC is a very deep conference this season, with eight or nine teams that will very good.

He said the Los Angeles Chargers might be a good bet -- maybe. Moss said he's seen them posted at 20 to 1 to win the Super Bowl, but they have one of the best rosters in football.

"I would like to tell you that is some good value on a team that is as loaded as they are," he said. "But with the Chargers … they kind of have to prove it to me before I bet on them because they have blown so many games, almost every single year for as long as I can remember."

UNLV football

Another team he won't bet on until he sees the proof of good performance is UNLV. Las Vegas Sun sportswriter Ray Brewer predicted that Rebels could win eight games this year, which would put them into bowl territory.

"That is wildly optimistic on Ray's part, in my opinion," Moss said.

He said the Rebels' schedule is tough, and while they have the potential to win -- he is yet to see it.

"There is no way I could bet on this team," he said. "I hope I'm wrong. I would love to see it here locally, but I can't bet on this team winning eight games"

UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez

With a new contract extension, it looks like UNLV is staying with Sanchez. 

Moss said if they get to a bowl game, Sanchez will definitely stick around. However, if they only win five games, which is the same as last year, it could be a different story.

"I don't think that it's automatic that he should be safe," Moss said.

Moss believes the seat should be hot for the former Bishop Gorman coach if the team doesn't do well this year.

Rebels quarterback Armani Rogers

Moss said Rogers is very athletic and dynamic to watch -- when he runs the ball. But, he's got a problem when he's passing. He only completed half of his passes last year.

Moss chalked part of that up to being a freshman last season. 

"So, hopefully, that can improve and will improve," he said.

He's not entirely sure, though, he can make the leap to completing 60 percent of his passes.

UNR Wolfpack

As for UNLV's northern rivals, Moss does expect them to improve on last year's 3-9 performance. Plus, they have an easier schedule than UNLV.

"They should have a pretty good offense on paper,"  he said. "They averaged more than 28 points per game last year."

He said high-scoring offenses can help bring fans a winning team in the Mountain West Conference.



Mitch Moss, VSIN

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)