The original plan was for tradition-rich Grambling State to play UNLV on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
But Grambling and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority couldn’t reach terms on the contract, and the Rebels (1-1) scrambled to schedule Prairie View A&M (1-2) for the 7 p.m. football game.
Though Prairie View also is a historically black college or university, this isn’t part of what was supposed to be a three-year deal with HBCU teams. Jackson State in 2016 and Howard last season were part of that arrangement.
“Anytime you get a chance to go against some of those nontraditional guys you don’t normally see on your schedule, it’s kind of neat,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “It’s been a good experience, and we’re excited about this game, and I’m sure it’s good for them, too.”
Jackson State received $300,000 from UNLV and $300,000 from the LVCVA so that it could bring its band early to perform leading up to the game.
Prairie View will travel solo and receive $350,000 for the trip.
Adding depth up front
UNLV has put several quality offensive lines on the field, but the Rebels have run into trouble when injuries forced second-teamers into the lineup before they were ready.
The Rebels can play quality backups throughout the front, which was evident in Saturday’s 52-24 victory over Texas-El Paso. Redshirt freshman Justice Oluwaseun and sophomore Matt Brayton received significant time. For Oluwaseun, it was another step in his complete recovery from a torn ACL suffered in spring practices.
“There are eight guys that are readily available, and they’re good football players,” Sanchez said. “Some of our twos aren’t necessarily in that rotation-type deal, but they’re not bad players. When you saw the twos went in this last game, we were able to run the ball well and did some really good things.”
Oluwaseun could receive his first career start Saturday. Junior Sid Acosta (hamstring) and senior Zack Singer (ankle) are listed as questionable. Acosta is the starting center and Singer the starter at left guard. Singer also is the backup center.
UNLV seeks rare positive start
If the Rebels beat Prairie View, it will be their first 2-1 start since 2009. They sandwiched a 23-21 loss to Oregon State with victories of 38-3 over Sacramento State and 34-33 over Hawaii.
The start didn’t bode well, however. UNLV then lost four consecutive games and finished 5-7 in what became coach Mike Sanford’s final season, prompting the infamous news conference in which he derided the Lied Athletic Complex locker room as the nation’s worst.