This was to be the year that Mike Sanford was to lead the Rebels to a bowl game. The players were in place with QB Omar Clayton, WR Ryan Wolfe, WR Phillip Payne, and others to lead an offense that should have been able to compete with anyone. They did lose Frank Summers to the NFL, but that was their only significant loss along the offensive side of the ball.
The teams success was on if the defense could step it up and improve off of their 104th ranked defense from 2008. Well none of that happened as the offense was ok, the defense was actually worse at 115th in the nation, and all of that lead to the firing of Mike Sanford.
Rebels Football Schedule
|Sacramento St.||Sat 09/05||W 38 - 3|
|Oregon St.||Sat 09/12||L 21 - 23|
|Hawaii||Sat 09/19||W 34 - 33|
|@ Wyoming||Sat 09/26||L 27 - 30|
|@ Nevada||Sat 10/03||L 28 - 63|
|BYU||Sat 10/10||L 21 - 59|
|Utah||Sat 10/17||L 15 - 35|
|@ New Mexico||Sat 10/24||W 34 - 17|
|@ TCU||Sat 10/31||L 0 - 41|
|Colorado St.||Sat 11/07||W 35 - 16|
|@ Air Force||Sat 11/14||L 17 - 45|
|San Diego St.||Sat 11/28||W 28 - 24|
The first game of the year against FCS Sac State provided little information on how good or bad UNLV, but the following week they played Oregon State down to the wire and lost on a last second field goal. Losing to Oregon State was not a bad thing since they were on the fringe of the top 25 all season. The same thing happened next week with Hawaii, but the Rebels pulled out a close win.
Then the wheels fell off as they lost to Wyoming which is not terrible, but the following week against Nevada it seemed that the Rebels just plain were a bad team. The Wolfpack not only beat UNLV by 35 points, but they allowed 42 points to Nevada in the second half. Also they allowed a gaudy 773 yards of total offense and 559 on offense; the kicker is that UNLV won the turnover battle by being plus three and Nevada 15 penalties for 169 yards and was still beat that bad.
That Nevada loss was amidst a four game losing streak with another beat down to BYU, and the Utah game the Utes were dominant for the first half before a sloppy second half let them back in the game. Other embarrassing games included a 41-0 shutout loss to TCU and a 45-17 loss to Air Force.
Two games really made this season and could have drastically changed the outcome of the season and would have kept Mike Sanford employed. The Oregon State game could have been a win had the Rebel defense been able to stop Oregon State from driving down the field late in the fourth quarter, or the loss to Wyoming which also was fourth quarter collapse. Had they won those two games and everything else been the same the Rebels would have had seven wins and would have replaced Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.
However, those last two games did not go UNLV's way and they added on their streak of losing seasons. 2003 was the last non losing season and 2000 was the last time the Rebels had a winning season. The replacement for Mike Sanford is Montana's