UNLV vs. Michigan Preview | What to anticipate in Ann Arbor

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Doug Brumfield (left) setting a block for Courtney Reese (right) running down the field. Photo by DJ Cabanlong

College Football is gearing up for Week 2, and the UNLV Rebels are traveling to Ann Arbor to face off against the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines at “The Big House.” 

This is the first road game for UNLV this season and the first game away from Allegiant Stadium with new head coach Barry Odom. The University of Michigan will be the second time the Rebels have faced off against a No. 2 ranked opponent. 

UNLV’s first encounter with a No. 2 ranked team was against the University of Tennessee with Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning under center. 

The Wolverines are the Rebels first top-10 ranked opponent since 2017 and will be UNLV’s first time being broadcasted on CBS in five decades. 

Harbaugh to replace Harbaugh 

Head coach for the University of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh, will be carrying out his second game of his three-game suspension that the university imposed for alleged recruiting allegations that occurred a couple of years ago. 

The Rebels will not be seeing the head coach at the game this weekend. Instead, they will play against Jim Harbaugh’s son, Jay Harbaugh. 

Jay Harbaugh, who currently serves as the Special Teams Coordinator, will be serving in place of his dad as head coach for the first half of this weekend’s game. 

Mike Hart, the running back coach for the team, will be coaching the second half of the game.  

Wolverines to watch 

J.J. McCarthy, quarterback for the Wolverines, has been one of the biggest names in college football over the past year. McCarthy had 2719 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns in the 2022 season. His ability to pick up extra yards and make plays under pressure makes him a player the Rebels need to watch out for. 

Blake Corum, starting running back for Michigan, has produced elite results on the field and has made a big name for himself on campus. Corum rushed over 1,400 yards with 18 touchdowns last season. Corum had the option after the 2022 season to enter the NFL Draft, but he decided to play another season with the Maize and Blue. 

Doug Brumfield gets his shot

UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield was injured when the Rebels faced off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last season. 

Brumfield, who has the second highest completion percentage in school history (61%), was named over the offseason on preseason lists, including Preseason Second Team All-Mountain West by PFF, now gets a chance to showcase his talents against the No. 2 ranked team in the country. 

‘It’s a nameless, faceless opponent’

Odom greatly respects Michigan Football as a team and has recently shown some praise at the recent UNLV Football Press Conference last weekend on Sept. 4.

“If they got a weakness, I haven’t found it yet,” Odom said. “… I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Harbaugh and the program that he’s built.”

Odom emphasized in the conference the importance of eliminating chunk plays.

“There’s going to be times that we make a call and they counter and have a good call as well,” Odom said. “Again the goal doesn’t change on trying to eliminate explosive plays. We’ve got to be good against the run. We can’t allow there to be chunk yards on the run and through the air.”

Even though the Wolverines are amongst the top-ranked teams in the country, Odom is taking the same approach at practice as if it were preparations for any other game.

“We are going to take the same approach every single week,” Odom said. “… It’s a nameless, faceless opponent, just like last week was.”

UNLV vs. Michigan is a win-win for both schools

The biggest catch to this Wolverines vs. Rebels game is that Michigan is paying UNLV $1.8 million to fly out and play them this week.

Another benefit of UNLV taking on the challenge to play against Michigan on the road is an opportunity for the student-athletes to play in front of over 100,000 people in the largest stadium in the nation.

“It’ll be a great atmosphere to play in,” Odom said. “I’m happy for our student athletes to have a chance to be in that environment.” 

The game against UNLV offers the Wolverines an opportunity to independently try and win games without its head coach on the sideline. It also will benefit the Wolverines in the sense that they can build confidence before they start playing its Big 10 Conference opponents.

How to watch

The Rebels and Wolverines duke it out at the Big House on Sept. 9 at 12:30 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast on CBS and Paramount+. ESPN will be broadcasting over the radio on channel 100.9 FM. Play-by-play and up-to-the-minute live updates will be on the Scarlet & Gray Free Press on X (@UNLVFreePress), and live stats at www.unlvrebels.com.

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