UNLV Football: First Look At The 2023 Schedule
The Rebels have a critical season ahead of them under new head coach Barry Odom. What can we learn from the overall schedule?
Can the Rebels claim a bowl berth for the first time since 2013?
With the release of the 2023 Mountain West football schedule earlier this month, one part of the off-season puzzle was set in place. In particular, the UNLV Rebels revealed a schedule as intriguing as it is straightforward.
🚨2023 SCHEDULE RELEASE🚨
📰: https://t.co/WEFV8y2twz pic.twitter.com/mBrKWKsU6Z
— UNLV Football (@unlvfootball) March 2, 2023
Here is what the week-by-week schedule looks like with Bill Connelly’s preseason SP+ rankings, where UNLV is 108th overall, in parentheses:
Saturday, September 2 – vs. Bryant (72nd among FCS teams)
Saturday, September 9 – at Michigan (3)
Saturday, September 16 – vs. Vanderbilt (71)
Saturday, September 23 – at UTEP (117)
Saturday, September 30 – vs. Hawaii (131)
Saturday, October 14 – at Nevada (107)
Saturday, October 21 – vs. Colorado State (119)
Saturday, October 28 – at Fresno State (67)
Saturday, November 4 – at New Mexico (132)
Saturday, November 11 – vs. Wyoming (101)
Saturday, November 18 – at Air Force (77)
Saturday, November 25 – vs. San Jose State (103)
We will learn more about the Rebels’ depth as teams complete spring practices, but for now here are a few takeaways regarding the schedule:
1. A majority of travel will be for the non-conference schedule.
The Rebels will find themselves at Michigan in Week 2 and Week 4 at UTEP in El Paso, Texas. These two trips will be the longest road games of the season for UNLV, by far. And for a Rebels squad that finished the 2022 campaign with only one road win, it would be best to temper expectations for the early weeks into the season. Other non-conference games to open the season are against Bryant to open the season and Vanderbilt coming into Allegiant Stadium in Week 3.
2. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
A new scheduling format for the Mountain West Conference will have teams facing two opponents annually and six other teams on a rotating basis over three-year cycles. 2023 will see the Rebels adding Colorado State and Wyoming to the schedule and removing Utah State and San Diego State. UNLV will again face off against Hawaii, Nevada, Fresno State, New Mexico, Air Force and San Jose State.
3. What could UNLV’s record be before the Week 6 bye?
By the time the Rebels reach their bye in Week 6 of this upcoming season, UNLV will have completed its non-conference schedule and had one conference game, versus Hawaii, at home. While many would see the Rebels as substantial underdogs to Michigan and Vanderbilt, UNLV should be able to open its season with a win against Bryant. Assuming a 1-2 record at the quarter turn of the season, how does UNLV handle its next two games? If the Rebels can pick up wins against UTEP and Hawaii, going 3-2 headed into their bye could bring a lot of momentum for the remaining conference schedule. If UNLV manages to split these games, at 2-3, the Rebels can still find some positives and remain competitive.
But should the Rebels lose both games and stand at 1-4 with a bye to think about adjusting their expectations, it could be a long year in store for this Rebels squad and its fans. As with every season, there will be ups and downs and remaining healthy will be critical to the team’s success. The Rebels will play some top-ranked programs and find victories where perhaps few thought they could. But in the meantime, circle your calendars, Rebels fans: UNLV’s schedule is slated to kick off Saturday, September 2, versus Bryant, at home, in Allegiant Stadium.
Hardest stretch: at Michigan, vs. Vanderbilt, at UTEP
Easiest stretch: at Nevada, vs. Colorado State
Guaranteed wins: vs. Bryant
Guaranteed losses: at Michigan, vs. Vanderbilt
Worse than 50/50 games: at UTEP, at Fresno State, at Air Force, vs. San Jose State
50/50 games: vs. Colorado State, vs. Wyoming
Better than 50/50 games: vs. Bryant, vs. Hawaii, at Nevada, at New Mexico
Preliminary projected record: 4-8