When you haven’t been to a bowl game in 13 years, you can’t be picky. And there are worse places UNLV could have been sent than the Heart of Dallas Bowl. For one thing, playing in the legendary Cotton Bowl Stadium will be an experience that most players probably didn’t imagine when they signed on with UNLV. For another, UNLV has never lost in that stadium. (Okay, they’ve only played there once.) That being said, here are 4 bowls we’d like to see the Rebels play in.
1. BCS National Championship Game
This one goes without saying. Is it a longshot? The longest, especially because the game won’t exist after this season. But every college football player who straps on a helmet and sweats through training camp in the heat of August has his eye on the ultimate prize. This is it.
2. Rose Bowl
Before there was a BCS Championship Game, this was it. The Mecca. History alone dictates that the Rose Bowl must be included on any “Bowls You’d Like To see Your Team Play In” list. You want history? It’s the oldest of all the bowls. You want prestige? SI.com suggests napping during the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Wednesday in order to be fresh when the Rose Bowl kicks off later that day. Chances of UNLV ever playing in the Rose Bowl are slim, if only because the bowl is affiliated with the Big Ten and Pac 12 conferences. But we have to think that the one-third of the Rebels’ roster that hails from California have all dreamt about making their homecoming to “The Grandaddy of Them All” in Pasadena.
3. Hawaii Bowl
It’s Christmas in Hawaii, literally. The Hawaii Bowl is played on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The Mountain West slot in this bowl usually goes to the University of Hawaii, but it’s up for grabs when the Rainbow Warriors don’t qualify. For the majority of Rebels who aren’t going to see the NFL, a bowl game in a tropical paradise wouldn’t be a bad way to cap off a season or career. As for the fans, we’ve talked to some of the Rebel faithful who are making the trip to Dallas this week. They all would have gladly upgraded to the Aloha Package.
4. Las Vegas Bowl
The local bowl makes our list for a few reasons. First, the Mountain West champion usually lands in the Las Vegas Bowl, so a postseason appearance at Sam Boyd Stadium would be a sign of a tremendous season for the Rebels. Second, of course, is the fact that the Las Vegas Bowl would essentially be a home game for UNLV. There’s something to be said for traveling (See No. 3), but there’s nothing like playing a bowl game in your home stadium, packed with your hometown fans. The Rebels will see what it’s like to be on the other side of that equation when they take the field against North Texas at Cotton Bowl Stadium, a mere 43 miles from the Mean Green’s Denton, Tex. campus. And yes, we hear the gripes about how Sam Boyd Stadium is “all the way out there” in Henderson, but that little excursion seems a lot more reasonable for a bowl game when the other options are packing up the family truckster and heading to Dallas or Boise.