In Big Play

Marcus Arroyo, UNLV head football coach, talks with reporters during the Mountain West Media Day at Mandalay Bay Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Photo/Las Vegas Sun

You can count on a few things in August in the desert: Stifling humidity, quixotic monsoonal showers that send weather forecasters and social media into a tizzy, and the start of college football season.

One of them you can legally bet on.

Among the games already on the board for Aug. 27 is Idaho State playing UNLV at Allegiant Stadium. Officially there is no line yet. A writer at Vegas Insider sees UNLV being favored in their opener and winning the game. Odds Shark already has a projected score: UNLV 22, Idaho State 10.6. It says the Rebels will win and cover the spread — even though it’s unclear what the spread is.

As for UNLV’s prospects, coach Marcus Arroyo was characteristically upbeat on July 20 at Mountain West Media Day.

“One of the starting points for the whole thing was trying to acquire talent and build a roster,” Arroyo told reporters. “And roster management is probably the most important thing we’ve got to do. There are only a handful of guys left from even just the end of the 2019 season.”

The website College Football News is less sanguine and asks the pointed question: “Can UNLV ever turn this thing around?”

The website notes the year the football Rebels went 8-5 and beat Arkansas in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was 2000, the year George W. Bush narrowly won the presidency by a single electoral vote, and gasoline cost $1.50 a gallon. In the 21 seasons since, there’s been just one winning season (2013), and no other bowl bids.

Their win total for the 2022 season is 4.5. Can anyone say under?

There are other games on the board for the last Saturday in August with odds as noted by Covers:

— UNR is -12.5 at New Mexico State. The total is 55.5.

— Nebraska is -12.5 vs. Northwestern. That game, the Aer Lingus Classic in promotional materials, is unusual because it’s being held at a neutral site, 48,000-person capacity Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. The total is 50.5.

— Utah State is -27.5 at home vs. Connecticut. The total is 60.5.

— Illinois is -10.5 at home vs. Wyoming. The total is 45.5.

— Florida Atlantic is -7.5 at home vs. Charlotte. The total is 57.5.

— UTEP is +1.5 at home vs. North Texas. The total is 55.5.

— Hawaii is +6.5 at home vs. Vanderbilt. The total is 54.5.

The schedule intensifies with 16 games on Thursday, Sept. 1, and more going into the weekend. If you’re serious about college football, it’s time to start conducting research before the sound of players grunting from the smack of pads.

Or find someone willing to bet on whether or not it will rain.


— Aces back in the pay mode: The Las Vegas Aces rewarded bettors twice in recent play. Last Friday, they drilled the Los Angeles Sparks, 84-66. Laying -10, they covered the number by eight points.

Six days later, the Aces crushed the Indiana Fever, 93-72. In doing so, they handily covered -14.5. The schedule called for a return date with the Fever (then 5-26) vs. the Aces (who improved to 21-8) at noon Sunday.

Play the Aces to win again and cover? That would almost seem too obvious, and the line was boosted to -17.5.

Yet the Aces bolted to a 21-13 lead over the tepid Fever en route to a 94-69 thrashing. Even with the inflated line, the Aces covered by 7.5 points, their third straight cover. They are now 15-15 ATS.

“I’ve learned as the season’s gone on to let it come to me and in the third, we needed a little boost,” said guard Kelsey Plum, whose 19 third-quarter points were a franchise record. “I just tried to be more aggressive.”

The Aces (22-8) next face the Washington Mystics (19-12) on Tuesday.

They are generally around +115 to win the WNBA title.

— Nunes wins rematch: It was far from a shocking result, but Amanda Nunes defeated Julianna Peña and regained the bantamweight title in their rematch on Saturday in UFC 277 in Dallas. Her win came by unanimous decision in five rounds.

“Double champ again, baby!” Nunes yelled to the crowd of 19,422 after the fight.

But it didn’t particularly reward bettors since Nunes was generally around a -275 to -300 favorite. Over 2.5 rounds at -120 also paid.

Favorites went 11-2 for the event, noted Vegas Insider.

Next up is UFC on ESPN on Saturday back in Las Vegas. In the light heavyweight main event, Thiago Santos (22-10-0) meets Jamahal Hill (10-1-0). Hill is around -260, and Santos is +215.

— Laugher of the week: Situational plays abound in the WNBA for those watching trends and doing their homework. The New York Liberty were +1.5 points at home on Sunday vs. the Phoenix Mercury. The Liberty controlled the game from the opening period and rolled to a relatively easy 89-69 win. If you’re scoring at home, that’s a cover by 21.5.

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