For the first time in program history, UNLV football made the trip to South Bend, Indiana to play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Oct. 22 in historic Notre Dame Stadium.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience not just for members of the Rebels’ program, but for longtime UNLV football fans and family of the players.
While the game did not go the Rebels’ way — a 44-21 loss to the Fighting Irish — the UNLV faithful made the most of their time at one of college football’s most storied venues.
For some Rebel fans, this game has been on their radar for over three years.
At the pregame tailgate, where most fans showed up the stadium over four hours before kickoff, the majority of tents had an Irish three-leaf clover flag attached to them.
Amidst the sea of Notre Dame logos and Irish green and gold, stood an RV with a UNLV flag flying high.
That RV belonged to the founders of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon at UNLV. They were celebrating their fraternity’s 40th year anniversary.
One fraternity brother’s parents left their lake house for a weekend so the brothers could all stay in Michigan for their Notre Dame trip.
They named their trip as “Sinners vs Saints” because of UNLV’s association with Las Vegas being nicknamed Sin City and Notre Dame being a catholic school.
Among the crowd of 15 fans hanging out at the tailgate was Tom B. He said athletics, especially the football team, has always been something the fraternity bonded over.
“[The Rebels] are a part of our life,” he said. “We stand by them and travel with them to these games.”
Another member in attendance was Terry Clark. He said that alumni and brothers from the fraternity made it a point to come to the Notre Dame game.
“Everybody came from all over the country,” Clark said. “It’s an annual trip now.”
Once it was time to get into the stadium, the fans packed up their tailgate and headed into the stadium. Watching the game wasn’t just a treat for the fans.
By the UNLV sideline, stood a section of scarlet and gray, as the families of the players got to witness their sons play football at the historic Notre Dame Stadium.
Hunter Shanks, the father of sophomore offensive lineman Tiger Shanks, traveled from Oregon to South Bend to watch his son play at Notre Dame.
“It is a dream come true for both of us,” Shanks said.
Mark Holly, the father of junior defensive back Devynn Holly, shared similar feelings with other family members that the Notre Dame fans and staff welcomed them with the utmost class.
“When I have been wearing my UNLV gear, they come up to me and say welcome to Notre Dame, good luck today,” Holly said. “[Notre Dame] is not like any schools we have been to. They have been super friendly and welcoming.”
Holly wasn’t going to miss the chance to see his son play at Notre Dame.
“This is an iconic school,” Holly said. “Devon is living out his dream to be able to play football at this level, to play at this stadium is amazing.”
It was announced earlier this week that UNLV’s 2023 game against the University of Michigan Wolverines will take place on Sept. 9, 2023.
Fans at the tailgate were already buzzing about the trip to Ann Arbor next season to play at another historic venue at Michigan Stadium.