Sep 9, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; UNLV Rebels Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Mike Scherer slaps hand with defensive back Johnathan Baldwin (3) after a fourth down stand against the Michigan Wolverines during the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV upends Vanderbilt in wild finish

Despite an early game-ending injury to starting quarterback Doug Brumfield that led to a 17-0 deficit, UNLV scored 30 straight points to beat Vanderbilt, 40-37, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday night.

Redshirt freshman Jayden Maiava stepped in and threw for 260 yards, rushing for 29 more, setting up Jose Pizano to win the game with a 36-yard field goal with five seconds left.

Maiava’s 47-yard touchdown throw to Jacob DeJesus with 2:23 left put UNLV up 37-30.

Vandy’s AJ Swann answered 1:11 later with a touchdown throw to Quincy Skinner.

Maiava then threw an interception to Vandy’s Nick Rinaldi. But Vanderbilt’s Jacob Borcila missed a chip-shot field goal.

Maiava then hit Ricky White with a 48-yard toss with nine seconds left to set up the winning field goal.

UNLV spotted Vanderbilt the first 17 points, had Brumfield knocked out on the game’s second drive, lost linebacker Jackson Woodard (ejected for targeting), and somehow managed to lead 20-17 at half.

Vandy freshman Martel Hight had a pick-6 on the first possession, racing 37 yards with the ball after teammate Jaylen Mahoney hit Brumfield.

The Commodores tacked on a 30-yard Borcila field goal and then Swann found London Humphries with a 56-yard bomb to make it 17-0.

The Rebels, though, pushed back quickly with Jai’Den Thomas’s 21-yard scoring run.

UNLV quickly added three more after a Vanderbilt punt hit an up-back, leading to a Rebel recovery at the Vandy 14 and then Pizano’s 27-yard field goal.

The Rebels then hit Swann from the backside, jarring the ball loose (and giving Swann an elbow contusion) for Jerrae Williams to scoop and scamper 41 yards to tie it.

Swann threw a pick just before half, which Johnathan Baldwin returned to the Vandy 28, setting up Pizano’s 31-yarder with three seconds left.

UNLV’s Pizano started the second half with a short field goal.

Then, after Vanderbilt backup quarterback Ken Seals fumbled away the Commodores’ first possession at the UNLV, Maiva gave the Rebels a 30-17 lead, scoring on a 24-yard option keeper to the right.

–Field Level Media

Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard (14) receives a pass over Alabama A&M cornerback Terphil Bien-Amie (25) during the first quarter at FirstBank Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.

UNLV hosts Vandy in rare visit by SEC opponent

Vanderbilt will aim to bounce back from a disappointing loss when it visits UNLV on Saturday.

The Commodores (2-1) fell 36-20 to host Wake Forest last week, due in part to three turnovers. Especially damaging was Will Sheppard’s fumbled punt return, which the Demon Deacons recovered and returned 31 yards for a touchdown.

“I think the disappointment was obviously with the (game) result, but more, as I said after the game, with the way we played,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “No one in this building believes we’re anything but an improved team, but that doesn’t do you much good when you play as sloppy as we played.”

The Commodores also allowed Wake Forest to rush for 288 yards on 48 carries. However, Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann threw for 314 yards and three scores. Two went to Sheppard, who leads the nation with six touchdown catches.

Slot receiver Jayden McGowan has 18 grabs for 214 yards this season and also has returned a kickoff for a touchdown. True freshman London Humphreys had four receptions for a team-leading 109 yards Saturday and the other touchdown catch.

That could be a formula for success against UNLV (1-1), which has allowed an average of 9.2 yards per pass attempt this season.

The Rebels will host a Southeastern Conference team in the regular season for the first time.

They won their only previous meeting with the Commodores, 34-10 on Oct. 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The next week, coach Barry Odom — now UNLV’s coach — brought No. 22 Missouri to Nashville and lost 21-14. That set off a five-game losing streak that cost Odom his job.

The Rebels fell 35-7 at No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield was 10 of 19 for 100 yards passing, while backup Jayden Maiava went 5 of 7 for 68 yards.

UNLV, which was playing without injured starting left guard Alani Makihele, had no turnovers vs. the Wolverines but suffered five sacks.

“We didn’t play the way we wanted to,” right guard Amani Trigg-Wright said. “It forced (Brumfield) to try to be a hero and put on a cape when he shouldn’t have to.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) hands off to running back Blake Corum (2) in the first half against the East Carolina Pirates at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Michigan continues coaching carousel against UNLV

Second-ranked Michigan went with one acting head coach during its season-opening victory over East Carolina.

This time, running backs coach Mike Hart and special-teams coach Jay Harbaugh will share the duties when the Wolverines (1-0) face UNLV on Saturday afternoon at Ann Arbor, Mich.

Coach Jim Harbaugh is serving the second contest of a three-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations. The first contest went just fine with defensive coordinator Jesse Minter running the team during a 30-3 victory over the visiting Pirates last week.

Jay Harbaugh, the 34-year-old son of the coach, will handle the first-half coaching duties. Hart, 37, a former Michigan star running back, will run the team in the second half.

“For coach Harbaugh to trust me to be head coach for a half is a great honor,” Hart said Monday.

Jay Harbaugh also has embraced the shared role.

“Mike and I have great conversations,” Jay Harbaugh said. “We’ve already had some thus far, just about a vision for how things look at this point, aggressiveness, situations, that kind of thing.”

The Wolverines will have offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore back in the fold. He also was serving a suspension in the East Carolina game for NCAA recruiting violations.

The absences of Jim Harbaugh and Moore didn’t affect Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who completed 26 of 30 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns. McCarthy’s 86.7 completion percentage is the second highest in Wolverines history behind the 90.9 turned in by Elvis Grbac (20 of 22) against Notre Dame on Sept. 14, 1991.

Star running back Blake Corum had 73 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown in his first game since undergoing major knee surgery nine months ago. Corum rushed for 1,463 yards and 18 TDs last season.

“We’re a complete team,” Corum said after the win. “If we need to run the ball, we’ll run it. If we need to pass, we’ll pass. There’s no, ‘They can’t pass the ball.’ We’re a complete team — and that’s what we do in practice.”

UNLV (1-0) won its first game under new coach Barry Odom as it routed visiting Bryant 44-14.

Odom, who coached Missouri from 2016-19, is attempting to pump life into a program that has notched just one winning record over the past 22 seasons.

He’s well aware the Wolverines are a major challenge for this team.

“Our motivation is to play our best and to be the best versions of what we can be,” Odom said. “And then we want to go play at a high level and take the opportunity we have in front of us and go make the most of it.

“Obviously, we have got a lot of respect for our opponent. It’ll be a great atmosphere to play in. I’m happy for our student-athletes to be in that environment.”

Junior-college transfer Jacob De Jesus had a 96-yard kickoff return but didn’t score as he was stopped at the Bryant 2-yard line. The return was the fourth longest in school history.

Rebels starter Doug Brumfield completed 11 of 18 passes but had just 86 yards and threw an interception.

“I take full ownership on that,” Brumfield said. “The offense goes as I go, and as a captain and quarterback, it’s my job to push the offense to the level we want to be at. We definitely did some good things out there, but there’s for sure some room to improve.”

Michigan won the lone previous meeting against UNLV, 28-7 in 2015 during Jim Harbaugh’s first season as coach.

–Field Level Media

Sep 28, 2019; Laramie, WY, USA; A general view of UNLV Rebels football before game against the Wyoming Cowboys at Jonah Field War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV defensive lineman Ryan Keeler dies at 20

UNLV defensive lineman Ryan Keeler died on Monday at age 20 in Las Vegas, the school announced.

No cause of death was released for the Chicago native, who was a redshirt freshman in the 2022 season.

“We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family,” incoming UNLV football coach Barry Odom said in a statement. “While I had the honor of knowing Ryan for only a couple of months, he already stood out to our coaching staff as an incredible person, student and teammate. Our condolences and prayers go out to Ryan’s family as we grieve along with them over this tremendous loss.”

Rebels athletic director Erick Harper added in a statement, “The UNLV family is in mourning today over the sudden loss of one of our own. Our hearts go out to all of Ryan’s family and friends along with his Rebel teammates.”

UNLV president Keith E. Whitfield tweeted, “Words are hard to come by this evening as we grieve the sudden and tragic loss of UNLV student-athlete Ryan Keeler. My sincere condolences are with Ryan’s family, friends, loved ones, and teammates during this very difficult time.”

Keeler transferred to UNLV from Rutgers before last season.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said in a statement, “From getting to know him as a recruit, to actually getting to coach him, what stood out most was his passion. His passion for his teammates and his passion for the game of football. We send our love and prayers to Ryan’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Keeler was selected to the Academic All-Mountain West team after compiling a 3.80 grade-point average as a pre-business student. On the football field, he appeared in seven games for the Rebels, making eight tackles, including a sack against Air Force on Oct. 15.

–Field Level Media

Nov 16, 2019; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Barry Odom reacts to play during the second half against the Florida Gators  at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV hires former Mizzou coach Barry Odom

UNLV announced Tuesday that it has hired Barry Odom as its next football coach.

Odom, who led Missouri from 2016-19, was most recently the associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Arkansas.

“I’m honored and excited to begin developing a relationship with our student-athletes and provide them a great foundation for success in every area of their lives,” Odom, 46, said in a news release. “I believe in the vision and plan that President (Keith E.) Whitfield and (athletic director Erick) Harper have for the UNLV Athletics Department. That alignment piece is critical and together we will achieve great success.

“This city is founded on opportunity and we look forward to this opportunity to lead this program and engage with this amazing community and Rebels everywhere.”

In Odom’s four seasons at the helm of his alma mater, Missouri went 25-25. The Tigers’ best season was an 8-5 mark in 2018, and they made two bowl games, losing both.

UNLV fired Marcus Arroyo in late November after the Rebels finished 5-7 (3-5 Mountain West) in his third season as coach. That was a marked improvement over the Rebels’ 0-6 and 2-10 records in his first two seasons.

Former national championship-winning LSU coach Ed Orgeron was rumored to be a candidate at UNLV, but Orgeron denied any interest or involvement with the Rebels’ search.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; UNLV Rebels head coach Marcus Arroyo looks on in the third quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV fires head coach Marcus Arroyo

UNLV fired head coach Marcus Arroyo after the Rebels went 5-7 in 2022 despite a 4-1 start.

Arroyo was 7-23 in three seasons with the Rebels, but just 5-17 in Mountain West games. The 42-year-old had two years left on the contract he signed in December 2019.

“We thank Marcus Arroyo for his unwavering efforts leading our student-athletes on and off the field for these three seasons,” UNLV athletic director Erick Harper said in a news release. “His program represented this institution in the community and classroom in a manner that is to be commended. However, with our increased expectations at UNLV we felt a change was in order at this time. We all wish Marcus and his family the best in their future endeavors.”

The Rebels finished 0-6 during the pandemic-shortened season of 2020, went 2-10 in 2021 and then started the ’22 season with four wins and a tight loss — 20-14 — to Cal.

The season turned for UNLV in a 40-7 loss to San Jose State on Oct. 7, followed by a 42-7 loss to Air Force and another lopsided defeat (44-21) at Notre Dame.

With a chance to become eligible for a bowl game, all three November losses for UNLV were one-possession games: San Diego State (14-10), Fresno State (37-30) and Hawaii (31-25).

The Rebels have played in just one bowl since their win in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2000.

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts (26), safety Brandon Joseph (16) and safety Houston Griffith (3) celebrate during the Notre Dame vs. Stanford NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Notre Dame Vs Stanford Football

First-ever meeting between Notre Dame, UNLV set for South Bend

Depending on the perspective, this is either the best time or the worst time for UNLV to travel to South Bend, Ind., to get its first chance to play Notre Dame.

On the plus side for the Rebels, the Fighting Irish (3-3) have lost two of their three home games this season, including last week’s 16-14 stunner to Stanford.

(To put those two home losses into context — and just how much of an outrage it has inspired — former head coach Brian Kelly won 30 of his last 31 games at Notre Dame Stadium dating back to September 2017.)

“It’s been a long 48 hours trying to figure out what the heck happened on Saturday, and why we didn’t execute the way we have been previously and what we have to do to fix it,” first-year Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman said Monday.

“You’re evaluating everything. Why haven’t we played as well at home? Why haven’t we played as well, really, versus maybe opponents that haven’t been ranked as high? And it starts from the top-down and looking at everything we do. The way we prepare. The way we motivate. What we do on game days. What we do at home versus what we do away. There is not just one answer because if there was, we would fix it.”

On the minus side for UNLV (4-3, 2-2 Mountain West), the Irish have lost two of their three home games this season, and that has inspired them to dig in and try to grow throughout this week’s practices.

“It’s a lot easier to do that, maybe, when you’re down,” Freeman said. “Because nobody wants to lose.”

UNLV should have the same mindset because it heads to Indiana after suffering a 42-7 loss to Air Force and a 40-7 loss to San Jose State.

The Rebels didn’t have starting quarterback Doug Brumfield (68.4 completion percentage, 1,231 yards, eight touchdowns) last week against Air Force due to a concussion, then top running back Aidan Robbins (591 yards, eight touchdowns) went out early in the second quarter with a knee injury.

UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo announced Monday that Brumfield is day-to-day with his concussion. He did not offer an update on Robbins.

“We need to get healthy as a team, that’s obvious,” Arroyo said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys in starting, contributing roles that we need to get developed as quickly as we can.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Diego State Aztecs wide receiver Jesse Matthews (45) makes a touchdown reception against UNLV Rebels defensive back Bryce Jackson (24) at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Lucas Johnson’s 3 TD passes lift No. 19 SDSU over UNLV

Lucas Johnson threw three touchdown passes to Jesse Matthews, helping No. 19 San Diego State escape Las Vegas with a 28-20 victory over UNLV in Mountain West play on Friday night.

Andrew Aleki returned an interception for touchdown for the second time this season for the Aztecs (10-1, 6-1 MW), who reached double digits in victories for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Seyddrick Lakalaka added an interception to end the Rebels’ last drive.

UNLV’s Justin Rogers replaced injured Cameron Friel in the second quarter and completed 15 of 21 passes for 305 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Junior Steve Jenkins caught five passes for a career-high 176 yards while Zyell Griffin and Giovanni Fauolo had scoring receptions for the Rebels (2-9, 2-5).

Jacoby Windman racked up three sacks for UNLV, but star runner Charles Williams was held to 35 yards on 16 carries.

Johnson completed 18 of 24 passes for 192 yards and one interception for the Aztecs, and Matthews caught nine passes for 75 yards. The West division leaders were outgained 394 yards to 290 while beating the Rebels for the 16th time in the past 20 meetings.

Friel was carted off with a toe injury early in the second quarter. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 67 yards and the interception Aleki brought back for a score.

The Rebels pulled within 21-17 in the third quarter after driving 94 yards on six plays. Rogers teamed up with Jenkins on an 80-yard pass play to the San Diego State 6-yard line and later tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Fauolo with 8:24 left in the period.

Daniel Gutierrez kicked a 22-yard field goal with 1:13 left in the third quarter to pull UNLV within one.

San Diego State stretched its lead to eight on Johnson’s 7-yard scoring pass to Matthews with 3:33 left in the contest. Lakalaka intercepted Rogers with 1:45 remaining, and the Aztecs ran out the clock.

Johnson and Matthews teamed up on their first two touchdowns late in the second quarter as San Diego State took a 21-10 halftime lead.

Matthews caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Johnson to give the Aztecs a 14-10 edge with 2:31 left. They connected again on a 24-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left.

The Aztecs’ first points came when Aleki picked up the interception off a deflection and returned it 16 yards to give his team a 7-3 lead with 5:15 remaining in the first quarter.

UNLV moved ahead 10-7 when Rogers connected with a wide-open Griffin on a 43-yard scoring pass with 6:13 left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Erik Brooks (3) celebrate after making a catch for a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the fourth quarter Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Fresno State an overwhelming favorite vs. UNLV

Fresno State has turned out its fair share of NFL quarterbacks in recent years, but Jake Haener’s performance Saturday night at then-No. 13 UCLA might just be unmatched in terms of its scope and importance.

All he did was throw for 455 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 14 seconds left in a 40-37 upset win, propelling the Bulldogs into the rankings at No. 22 and earning praise nationally for a gritty effort that saw him overcome a painful hip injury.

Haener’s encore performance seems easy enough on paper. Fresno State (3-1) opens its Mountain West Conference schedule Friday night against visiting UNLV (0-3) as a 30 1/2-point favorite.

The Bulldogs are getting mentioned by some as a contender for the Group of Five’s spot in the New Year’s Day bowl lineup. Their one loss wasn’t exactly a disgrace, as they led then-No. 11 Oregon in the fourth quarter before falling 31-24 in Eugene.

Had Fresno State been able to finish out that game, it might be a Top 10 team with two road wins over Pac-12 foes. However, coach Kalen DeBoer’s squad didn’t let the Oregon defeat enter its mind in Pasadena.

“The biggest thing was the belief that we would win,” he said. “There was never a question coming into this game. We know what we are capable of. The best thing about this game is there aren’t any regrets.”

The only regrets in the Rose Bowl might have been from opposing coaches who wished they had Haener leading their huddle. He marched the Bulldogs 75 yards on six plays in just 40 seconds, connecting with Jalen Cropper on a 13-yard scoring strike for the decisive points.

It was the capper of a huge game for Cropper, who caught 14 passes for 141 yards. But Fresno State isn’t a one-dimensional offense, as proven by Ronnie Rivers’ season-high 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns at UCLA. Rivers, a fifth-year senior, has 2,927 yards and 38 scores in his career.

The Bulldogs’ average of 541.5 yards per game ranks ninth nationally and their 402.5 passing yards per game ranks fourth. Logic dictates both averages could go up against a Rebels team that is off to a rocky start.

A 48-3 home loss to No. 14 Iowa State last weekend kept UNLV winless under second-year coach Marcus Arroyo. The Rebels, who finished 0-6 in 2020, have allowed at least 35 points in each game this year. They have scored just 13 points total in their two games against FBS opponents.

Arroyo, whose team opened the season with a double-overtime home loss to FCS power Eastern Washington, inherited a program with a recent history of failure. He also inherited a brutal early schedule with three straight Top 25 foes, including Fresno State.

“The growth in our program will come from challenges like this, back-to-back Top 25 teams and seeing how we stand up against them and continue to find some good football in there,” Arroyo said after the Iowa State loss. “Particularly with a young group and with depth that’s different than some of those teams.”

The Rebels have started different quarterbacks in each of their first three games, none named Tate Martell. The former Ohio State and Miami backup relieved last week’s starter, Cameron Friel, and went 2 of 6 for 27 yards. It’s believed that Doug Brumfield, who missed the Iowa State game with an injury, will get the call in Fresno.

–Field Level Media

Iowa State senior quarterback Brock Purdy scans the field for an open receiver late in the second quarter against Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

20210911 Cyhawk

Brock Purdy, No. 14 Iowa St. try to bounce back vs. UNLV

Brock Purdy may own the most wins by a quarterback in Iowa State history, but a rivalry loss has brought him under heavy scrutiny.

Purdy will look to bounce back from a subpar performance when the No. 14 Cyclones (1-1) visit UNLV (0-2) on Saturday night.

Purdy has a 24-12 record as a starter but picked a bad time to have a clunker — the highly anticipated showdown with Iowa that marked the first time the schools had played while both were ranked in the Top 10.

Purdy threw three interceptions and was just 13-of-27 passing for 138 yards before being yanked in the 27-17 setback. He has yet to throw a touchdown this season.

Freshman Hunter Dekkers finished the game, completing 11 of 16 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, but Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is sticking with Purdy, who with 9,319 career yards needs 181 to surpass Bret Meyer (9,499 from 2004-07) for most in school history.

“That’s gut-wrenching when it doesn’t go your way,” Campbell said at a press conference. “And some of the things that happen in the game really aren’t on you as the quarterback, but everybody’s perception is that it is.

“So the reality of it is, it’s tough to play that position. But man, he’s played it for four years. He knows how to handle tough times.”

Standout running back Breece Hall also made a huge gaffe, losing a fumble near his own end zone that Iowa’s Jack Campbell picked up and ran 6 yards for a score that gave the Hawkeyes a 21-10 lead in the third quarter.

“What a critical error in the game,” Campbell said of the fumble. “And when you’re an ‘A’ player, you need to be able to play ‘A’ football.”

Hall has 138 rushing yards in two games. He also has scored a rushing touchdown in each to raise his streak to 14 consecutive games with a rushing score, one shy of the Big 12 mark set by Missouri’s Corby Jones (1997-98).

Defensive end William McDonald IV is pacing the defense. He has 2.5 sacks this season and is ranked second in school history with 20.

UNLV is waiting to learn whether quarterback Doug Brumfield will be available. He departed after taking a hard hit in the third quarter of last Saturday’s 37-10 road loss against then-No. 23 Arizona State.

If not, Justin Rogers, who started the season-opening 35-33 double-overtime loss to Eastern Washington, will draw the start. He was pulled from that game in favor of Brumfield.

The Rebels have dropped eight straight games since winning their 2019 finale. Second-year coach Marcus Arroyo saw signs of progress against Arizona State before the game got away in the final quarter.

“We’ve (got) to continue to coach our tails off,” Arroyo told reporters. “Be very introspective in regards to how we can finish a game and put two halves together. We’ve got a sour taste in our mouth.”

Running back Charles Williams (212 yards in 2021) moved into third place on UNLV’s career rushing list with 3,152 yards, passing former NFL running back Mike Thomas (3,149).

Defensively, middle linebacker Austin Ajiake and outside linebacker Jacoby Windmon share the team lead of 19 tackles. Windmon has a team-best 1.5 sacks.

Iowa State leads the series 4-1, but UNLV prevailed in the most recent meeting, 34-31 in overtime in 2008 in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media