With a 4-1 start to the season, the only loss being a six-point defeat to Cal, UNLV’s 2022 season looked promising.
But the Rebels only won one more contest for the rest of the year – their season finale against Nevada – and were 3-5 in Mountain West play.
Will UNLV be able to conclude the 2023 season on a higher note?
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UNLV Football’s Mountain West Title Odds
UNLV’s odds to win the Mountain West are +1600, via BetMGM.
UNLV Football’s Over/Under Win Total
UNLV’s win total Over/Under is 5.5, with Under 5.5 at +125 and Over 5.5 at -150.
UNLV Football’s Schedule
9/2 vs Bryant
9/9 at Michigan
9/16 vs Vanderbilt
9/23 at UTEP
9/30 vs Hawaii
10/14 at Nevada
10/21 vs Colorado State
10/28 at Fresno State
11/4 at New Mexico
11/11 vs Wyoming
11/18 at Air Force
11/25 vs San Jose State
Bold indicates Mountain West contests.
Ricky White An Emerging Playmaker For UNLV’s Offense
Ricky White is certainly one of the best Mountain West wide receivers and will be a key contributor for UNLV.
The former Michigan State transfer was top 10 in the league with 619 yards and 51 receptions while recording four touchdown catches in 2022. Wide receiver Senika McKie, who caught 17 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown last year, and tight end Shelton Zeon III, who added 168 yards on 15 catches, are also among UNLV’s leading receivers last year who return.
Doug Brumfield is back at quarterback and will lean on those receivers again. Brumfield threw for 1,898 yards, 10 touchdowns, and five interceptions on a 65% completion rate. He also ran for 261 yards and six touchdowns on 90 attempts.
Aidan Robbins was UNLV’s leading rusher last year with 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns, but he’s gone. Courtney Reese, who was second on the team with 372 yards last year, is returning, however.
UNLV’s offensive line helped the team rank in the top half of the Mountain West in terms of rushing yards per game (137.4) but allowed the fifth-most sacks (37) in the league. Right guard Amani Trigg-Wright is UNLV’s only returning offensive lineman who started multiple games last season. But the Rebels added former Buffalo O-lineman Jack Hasz and former Arkansas O-lineman Jalen St. John this offseason.
Fred Thompkins Among Returning Leaders For UNLV’s Defense
UNLV was ninth in the Mountain West in both scoring defense (28.5 points allowed per game) and total defense (383.7 yards per game allowed). But the Rebels have a chance to build on that experience as seven of their top 11 tacklers from last year return.
Fred Thompkins is the team’s leading returning tackler. He was third on the team last year with 59 total tackles while adding 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Johnathan Baldwin was right behind with 56 total tackles. He also led the team with seven pass breakups while chipping in an interception, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Jordyn Morgan tied with Baldwin with 56 total tackles and also broke up six passes. He added two interceptions as well.
Jalen Dixon is one of UNLV’s best returning pass rushers. He tallied three sacks and 6.5 TFLs while recording 30 total tackles.
Cameron Oliver tied the team lead with three interceptions last season. He also chipped in 31 total tackles and a pass breakup.
UNLV also made a few key additions in the transfer portal. Linebackers Zavier Carter (LSU) and Jackson Woodard (Arkansas) as well as defensive backs Jalen Frazier (N.C. State) and Jaxen Turner (Arizona) are new to the team after playing for other Division I programs.
UNLV Football Season Prediction
UNLV won’t win the Mountain West but will be .500 or better after the regular season.
I don’t believe the Rebels’ non-conference slate will necessarily go their way. While they could beat Bryant, I’m accounting for UNLV losing to Michigan, Vanderbilt, and UTEP.
But I think the Rebels will have a winning record against conference teams. That’s after losing to Air Force and Fresno State on the road.
However, I think UNLV should be favored in almost every other Mountain West matchup. The Rebels are better than Nevada and New Mexico, even if those are road trips for UNLV. I also believe the Rebels are capable of winning all four of their conference games at home against Hawaii, Colorado State, Wyoming, and San Jose State.
That would give UNLV a winning record for the season, which would be a strong response after its 2022 season ended the way it did.