Quick, when you hear the name Las Vegas, what is your first thought?
The Strip? Gambling? Show girls?
Maybe UNLV Runnin' Rebel Basketball (well maybe not, but I do)?
No matter your answer, I feel pretty sure in predicting that it wasn't UNLV Rebel Football.
When your last winning season happened in the year 2000, your ability to overshadow the bright lights of Sin City are laughable at best.
Will 2011 be any different?
Here are five predictions for the UNLV Rebels' upcoming season and a game-by-game prediction of their win/loss record.
Washington State Cougars
The 2010 non-conference schedule wasn't kind to the Rebels.
The Rebels opened the 2010 season by playing host to Big Ten champion Wisconsin, a game in which they held their own, but eventually lost 41-21.
After getting romped 30-7 in Moscow, ID by 2009 bowl invitee Idaho and crushed 44-26 by their bitter archival Nevada, the Rebels made the long trip to Morgantown, WV.
Not only were the Rebels playing clear across the country against a Big East power, but it was also an early morning game, not exactly ideal conditions for Bobby Hauck's squad. The result, a 49-10 thrashing.
And, after being battered and bruised in Mountain West Conference play, the Rebels ended the season against the offensively magnificent Hawaii Warriors, where the trip to Honolulu ended in a 59-21 beating.
Fortunately for the Rebels, they avoid West Virginia and Idaho in 2011.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, they play at Wisconsin, at Washington State and at Nevada in 2011.
Saying that, according to the old adage, there is "no rest for the weary" doesn't even begin to encapsulate the brutality of the Rebels 2011 non-conference slate.
Historically, the Rebels have always played the Big 10 power in Madison tough.
In 2007, UNLV held a late fourth quarter lead against the Badgers before giving up the game winning score with less than two minutes in the game. And, as mentioned earlier, the Rebels kept it close in 2010 before the Badgers pulled away in the second half.
Although the game is in Madison, there is a precedent for an underdog Rebels squad rolling into Camp Randall and upsetting the heavily favored Badgers.
In 2003, the unranked UNLV Rebels shocked the Wisconsin faithful as they dominated the 14th ranked Badgers 23-5. Yes, it is unlikely UNLV will be able to do that again, but there is always that chance.
Yes, recent history is clearly against the Rebels.
They haven't beat their rivals from Reno since 2004, and the last time they played the Wolfpack in Northern Nevada in 2009, they gave up 28 points in the fourth quarter to lose to Nevada 63-28.
But, the Wolfpack are in rebuilding mode after losing all-everything quarterback Colin Kaepernick and top running back Vai Taua, two Nevada stalwarts who tortured the Rebels the past four years.
True, the Rebels lost some offensive stars of their own (mostly departed QB Omar Clayton), but the playing field has been leveled.
Without it's two biggest offensive threats, the Rebels now have their best shot of knocking off their bitter archival.
And just remember, you heard it here first. Not only is this the Rebels best chance, they will in fact beat the Wolfpack in Reno for the first time since 2003.
Only bold predictions found here.
With 19 career touchdown receptions, senior Phillip Payne enters 2011 just five behind Henry Bailey's school record of 24.
As long as Payne plays up to his talent level (and doesn't get suspended for two games for bad-mouthing the coaching staff like he did in 2010), Payne shouldn't have a problem ending his Rebel career as the all-time record holder.
As UNLV's premier play-maker and end-zone threat, Payne will see plenty of double teams this season, but he also possesses the athletic ability and speed to fight through the extra coverage and get open.
Given that the Rebels will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2011, look for Payne to be targeted early and often to allow the Rebels' new QB to build up confidence.
This should give Payne ample opportunities to leave his mark on the UNLV record books.
Though only a freshman, last served as a notice given by Tim Cornett to coach Bobby Hauck as to who will be the centerpiece of the UNLV offense for years to come.
In 2010, Cornett lead the Rebels with 546 rushing yards on 144 carries and six rushing touchdowns. Although they weren't Heisman-caliber numbers, they serve as a solid indicator for potential future success.
The Houston native will battle with incoming freshman Dionza Bradford to maintain his starting position in 2011, but expect Cornett to be named the starter by the season opener.
As his statistics indicate, Cornett has a great burst through the line and possesses excellent speed. He used his speed quite effectively in a 42-16 victory over Wyoming where he rushed for three touchdowns and added a receiving touchdown for good measure.
Expect more of the same from Cornett this coming fall.
In 2011, here are my predictions for UNLV, game by game:
1. 09/01/11 at Wisconsin: L 31-21
2. 09/10/11 at Washington State: L 27-24
3. 09/17/11 vs. Hawaii: L 48-21
4. 09/24/11 vs. Southern Utah: W 41-17
5. 10/08/11 vs. Nevada: W 28-27
6. 10/15/11 at Wyoming: W 27-24
7. 10/29/11 vs. Colorado State: L 28-21
8. 11/05/11 vs. Boise State:L 48-10
9. 11/12/11 at New Mexico: W 31-13
10. 11/19/11 at Air Force:L 31-10
11. 11/26/11 vs. San Diego State: L 34-21
12. 12/03/11 at TCU: L 38-7
Overall: 4-8 (2-5 MWC)