UNLV Football Is Back!

Written By Marc Meltzer on September 25, 2020

This week, the Mountain West Conference (MWC) Board of Directors met and approved plans to resume football this season. The move clears the way for football and fall sports to resume after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in August.

The announcement means that UNLV football will return sooner than expected. The MWC is amending its regular-season football schedule. The new, shortened season for the league will begin on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Schedules haven’t been released for UNLV or other teams in the conference just yet. The goal of the league is to play eight games this year. Some teams could play an extra rivalry game. Games will not be made up if missed due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

In this abbreviated season, teams will mostly play conference games. The MWC football championship game is tentatively scheduled to be played on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Safety first

While the league plans to return, decisions for individual teams are subject to state, county, and local approvals. The season was postponed because of the health and safety of the MWC student-athletes.

The safety of its players is still paramount for league officials.

“The health and well-being of our student-athletes continue to guide all decisions,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, San José State University president and chair of the MW Board of Directors.

So, how did we get here and where are we going?

In a statement, Papazian elaborated:

“The availability of rapid testing addresses one of the main concerns that was expressed by our Board, the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as by student-athletes and coaches. Our student-athletes have voiced their desire to compete, and it is the Board’s shared opinion that football can be conducted with appropriate mitigation. We continue to learn more about the virus each day and will continue to monitor the pandemic moving forward. We will be ready to change course if necessary should new information come forth, or we feel an appropriate environment cannot be sustained on our campuses.”

UNLV and the other teams in the MWC will need proper approvals from the government before they can take the field for official games.

What’s the plan for UNLV football?

UNLV still has a lot of work to do before the season begins. First things first, UNLV will hit the practice field. This amended season will be the first season under head coach Marcus Arroyo.

He was last seen calling plays for the Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12 conference. Coincidentally, that league also approved an abbreviated football season this week.

Prior to the season being postponed, the Runnin’ Rebels were planning on playing home games at the brand-new Allegiant Stadium.

It’s possible UNLV will play its home games at the shiny new stadium the team shares with the Las Vegas Raiders. Where the team plays will depend on Nevada governmental officials.

Sharing the stadium might not be possible as there are still strict social distancing measures in place. This could keep the Rebels playing home games at Sam Boyd Stadium for another season.

While UNLV was hoping the new stadium would boost attendance, the team won’t likely play in front of fans. The current government mandate only allows gatherings of up to 50 people.

There’s a rumor that this could increase to 250 people, but that’s still not large enough to allow fans.

League officials just announced that the MWC conference championship game will no longer take place at Allegiant Stadium. The game will be held at the home stadium of the team with the best record in the conference.

So you’re saying UNLV has a chance…

Since the MWC doesn’t have a schedule, there aren’t futures odds available for the conference. However, Caesars has odds for UNLV to win the college football national championship.

The Runnin’ Rebels are +500,000 to win the FBS championship.

UNLV is 5,000-1 to win it all at Caesars’ sportsbooks in Nevada. While they’re a very very very longshot, it puts the team on par with such national football powers like the University of Virginia and the University of Texas-El Paso.

Boise State currently has the best odds of all MWC teams to win the college football national championship at +5,000.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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