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New FSM Preview: UNLV vs Michigan

Franchise Sports Media

 

UNLV hits the road for the first time this season when the Rebels head to The Big House to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.

UNLV vs Michigan is taking place this Saturday. 

UNLV vs Michigan | Franchise Sports Media
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UNLV heads to Michigan to take on the Wolverines inside The Big House on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels are massive underdogs (+37.5) against a Michigan team that will be without their head coach, Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines will be without Harbaugh on game day as he serves the second game of a school-imposed, three-game suspension for breaking NCAA recruiting rules.

Jay Harbaugh, Michigan’s special teams coordinator and safeties coach, will fill his father’s role in the first half. Running backs coach and former Michigan star Mike Hart will lead the team after halftime. Perhaps more importantly for Michigan, Sherrone Moore will be back as offensive coordinator. He was out last week, too, serving a one-game university-imposed suspension.

In recent seasons, Michigan has received plenty of criticism for its nonconference schedule, but you can’t argue with the results; they win. The Wolverines have won 12 straight nonconference games during the regular season. Their last loss was in 2018, when they lost 24-17 on the road against Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, UNLV is 2-16 all-time against Big Ten opponents. It’s not exactly a surprise to anyone to see that UNLV has struggled to beat Big Ten teams, but it may be a surprise to some to learn both its wins came against Wisconsin. The Rebels beat the Badgers 17-7 in Las Vegas in 1986 and did so again at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison in 2007 by a score of 23-5.

No one is giving UNLV a chance when they play Michigan on Saturday. 

UNLV head coach Barry Odom is coming off his first win as the Rebels head ball coach and is looking to see improvement in all three phases of his team.

UNLV is looking to improve on some things as they take on Michigan this week. 

UNLV vs Michigan | Franchise Sports Media
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The Rebels’Go-Go offense” was pretty basic in last week’s game against Bryant University. While UNLV did rush for over 280 yards, the Rebels didn’t show much on tape for Michigan to scout. Quarterback Doug Brumfield has to be more accurate against the Wolverines than he was against the Bulldogs. Brumfield was 11-18 (61.1%) for just 86 yards and rushed for a TD. He also threw an interception (albeit it was off his receiver’s hands) and had a QB rating of 90.1. After the game, Brumfield told me that he feels stronger than he has ever felt and that he is trying to get used to it.

I’ve never felt this strong before, so I am still getting used to it,” Brumfield said. “I have to throttle it back, but I also feel that I was a little too gassed up for this game and to get the season started. I’ll be right next week (vs Michigan). I’ll make sure of it. I won’t miss the easy throws, and I’ll make it up to my receivers. We’ll be alright.”

If UNLV has any chance to upset Michigan, Brumfield has to improve his accuracy and make a few big plays, via the air or his legs, that lead to Rebels‘ touchdowns.

 

UNLV vs Michigan | Franchise Sports Media
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The Wolverines, known for their strong running game, will pose a significant challenge to the UNLV defense. Michigan’s running back corps, led by the talented Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, will look to exploit the Rebels defensive line. UNLV gave up well over 250 yards to Bryant University on the ground last week, and you can bet Michigan will try to do the same thing on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy threw 30 passes last week against ECU, many of which were when the game was already out of hand. This was the fourth-most of the junior’s short career and more than the combined quarterbacks attempted in non-conference games last season. I’d expect more rushing than passing this week out of Michigan, something Wolverine fans have seen time and time again.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Wolverines will aim to put pressure on Doug Brumfield and force him into making mistakes. The Michigan pass rush is looking to be disruptive again this week, and doesn’t feel the Rebels’ offensive line matches up well against them. What worked well for ECU last week was the quick game, but the Wolverines‘ defensive line was still getting after them and winning the battle up-front.

What could work to UNLV’s advantage is offensive coordinator Brennan Marion’s preferred fast style of play, which has sometimes given Michigan issues recently. Last week against ECU, a bunch of Wolverine defensive linemen saw action. That will again be the case this week if they want to stay fresh and not get worn down.

UNLV is looking to upset Michigan. 

5 Key Rebels to Watch

Five key players to watch for UNLV.

Here are five key Rebels to watch this week vs Michigan:

  1. Quarterback Doug Brumfield: The Rebels starting quarterback finally has a chance to show what he can do on the big stage. He missed last year’s game vs Notre Dame due to injury, so the game against Michigan is a chance for Brumfield to have a coming-out party potentially.
  2. Running Back Jai’Den “Jett” Thomas: He had two touchdowns in his college debut and looked explosive and decisive. Thomas is a multi-dimensional back who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
  3. Linebacker Jackson Woodard: The Arkansas transfer led the Rebels in tackles last week and seemed to be everywhere. He will have a chance to make an even more significant impact against this Wolverine’s offense.
  4. Wide Receiver Ricky White III: White III had quite a game on his last visit to the Big House. He caught eight passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, helping Michigan State beat Michigan in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He is looking to do the same this week.
  5. Defensive Back Jerrae Williams: The Honcho of Havoc is thriving in his new role and was a match-up nightmare for Bryant. Williams is looking to make an even more significant impact against a Michigan team that likes to punish smaller defenders.

It’s time for some Rebels football! #RebelUp

Can UNLV pull one of the biggest upsets in college football history vs Michigan this week?   

Coach Odom and his Rebels take on Michigan at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. The game can be seen on CBS. UNLV next plays Vanderbilt at home on Saturday, September 16th, at 4 p.m. at Allegiant Stadium. Click here for tickets.

 

-Joe Arrigo   Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on X, Threads, and Instagram: @JoeArrigoFSM

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