UNLV needed a big performance on the road against Colorado State to keep its slim chances of making a bow game alive. The Rebels had to win all four of its remaining games to reach the 6-6 mark, but that would not happen. Colorado State took early control of the game and dominated the Rebels en route to a 37-17 victory.
The first play of the game was indicative of how the day would go for UNLV, as Colorado State returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The Rams scored again on its first offensive possession of the game and late in the first quarter, and the Rebels were down 21-0 after the first quarter.
There were still three quarters to play, but the Rebels were out of this game. Colorado State came out with more energy and better execution, which aided them to its first quarter offensive explosion.
UNLV’s offense had a rough time building any drives. They did not reach Colorado State territory until midway through the second quarter, that drive resulted in UNLV turning it over on downs.
In the final moments of the first half, UNLV put together its best offensive drive. Oblad threw for 79 yard and the Rebels looked like they would finally get on the board before halftime, but that did not happen.
UNLV called a timeout with seven seconds left, leaving themselves with no timeouts left. Oblad threw a pass to Fauolo no where close to the sideline, and he could not get out of bounds. Time ran out and UNLV went into the locker room with no points.
UNLV received the ball to start the second half down 24-0, and they answered with a 37-yard Daniel Gutierrez field goal.
Colorado State added a few field goals of their own to push their lead to 30-3.
The Rebels added two garbage time touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Oblad threw a touchdown pass to Randal Grimes and Darren Woods Jr. Oblad 280 passing yard and two touchdowns on 22/39 passing. Grimes lead the Rebel receivers with seven receptions, 92 yards, and a touchdown.
“Unfortunately we were here last year in a similar situation (not being bowl eligible),” Tony Sanchez said after the loss, “…when you’re in the situation we’re in, you got to ask yourself a question, how do you want to be remembered, how are you going to finish this thing?”
UNLV is now 2-7 and they are officially eliminated from bowl contention. In a statement by Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois following UNLV’s 2018 season, she said after evaluating the program, Sanchez (who had one year left on his contract at the time) would return for his fifth season. She also said she was “looking forward to a successful 2019 football season including bowl eligibility.”
So, now with bowl eligibility no longer a possibility, what does UNLV do with Sanchez? Reed-Francois was asked by Mike Grimala of the Las Vegas Sun if Sanchez would finish out the season. “It was a tough loss,” Reed-Francois told Grimala, “but we have games left to play and that’s what we’re going to focus on.” So, it looks like Sanchez, at the very least, will coach out the last three games.
Regardless on what happens in the offseason, or next season, there is still a job that has to be done. There are three games remaining for the Rebels, including the two final games at Sam Boyd Stadium, and the Cannon Game at the end of the season.
“At the end of the day, it is our job to go back to work,” Sanchez said. “It’s our job to coach, it’s our job to mentor. It’s their job to show up with good attitudes and keep working hard. Unfortunately, life hits you in the face sometimes, but you don’t turn around and run the other way, you run right back after it.”