LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Marcus Arroyo isn’t going as far as offering to buy and distribute tickets, but the UNLV coach would like nothing more than a huge crowd Friday night when his Rebels face New Mexico.

“We’re in a place right now as a program that getting everybody out to the game this week is a huge deal,” Arroyo said of the Mountain West contest at Allegiant Stadium (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network). “Our guys are feeding off this energy right now. … Getting our fans, our students our community and everybody involved out to Allegiant Friday night would be such an awesome thing.”

Arroyo and his players are trying to convince football fans in Southern Nevada that this team isn’t the same old Rebels.

At 3-1 overall and coming off a 34-24 road victory over Utah State in the conference opener for both teams, Arroyo is pumped.

“Huge win in a lot of ways,” he said of the victory over the Aggies, the defending conference champs. “On the road, against the defending champs … a lot of high, feeling good about ourselves.

“To go up there and handle our business that way … it meant a lot.”

For the past several years, the Rebels have been pretty dismal on the field and in drawing fans. In 2017, the Rebels averaged 17,499 for their six home games, the lowest average since 1997. It dropped to 16,823 in 2018 before slight an jump to 19,864 in 2019, perhaps because some fans wanted to bid farewell to Sam Boyd Stadium

It’s unfair to include 2020; attendance was limited dramatically because of the pandemic.

Last year, when the Rebels played at Allegiant without attendance limitations, the average was 22,357. That’s at Allegiant Stadium, one of the most acclaimed new stadiums in the country, and where UNLV students get in free.

This edition of the Rebels has more victories than the last two seasons combined. UNLV is trying to win four of its first five to start a season for the first time since 2003 when it accomplished the feat under Hall of Fame coach John Robinson.

It’s the victories, of course, and also how his team has won that’s got Arroyo geeked. “A lot of times, I felt that game we would have lost in the past,” he said of the victory at Utah State.

The Rebels stood up when Utah State mounted a comeback, Arroyo said, and when bad things happened on the field his players didn’t crumble emotionally.

“For our guys to fight through that like the way they did … it just says a lot about how far our locker room has come,” he said.

Running back Aidan Robbins said the Rebels go into games with a new mindset. “The energy’s kinda shifted around the building,” he said. “We expect to win. The work’s been put in so we’re just receiving the output of what we put in.”

Added linebacker Austin Ajiake: “The buzz around the city, around the campus is definitely there.”

New Mexico (2-2, 0-1 Mountain West) is known for strong defense — tough to run against — and physical play, but the Rebels are favored in some circles by 14 1/2 points. Arroyo is telling his players to be ready; the program has miles to go, and opponents still look forward to taking their shots.

“We’ve got a lot of scar tissue around here,” he said of UNLV’s string of eight consecutive losing seasons. Since 2000, the Rebels have two winning seasons and one season at .500. “I don’t let guys forget that.

“We got a lot to earn here. We got a lot of respect to earn.”