COLUMBUS — Nothing succeeds like excess in Las Vegas.
“Bigger, glitzier, more attention grabbing” should be the city motto.
Admittedly, it’s not as catchy as “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” But it probably is more accurate since the only thing that truly always stays in Las Vegas is your money, right up to the moment you board your flight home if you choose to play the slot machines in McCarran International Airport.
Other than the run UNLV men’s basketball had during the Jerry Tarkanian years, glitz and glamour has rarely if ever been associated with college sports in Las Vegas, though.
UNLV’s football team, which comes to Ohio Stadium on Saturday as a massive underdog against No. 10 Ohio State, has had only three winning seasons since 2000.
The Rebels are latecomers to college football. UNLV’s first season was in 1968 when the school was known as Nevada Southern University and they didn’t move up to NCAA Division I until 1978.
Their most famous alums who went to the NFL are Randall Cunningham and Ickey Woods. Recording mogul Suge Knight and ESPN’s Kenny Mayne also suited up for UNLV.
It won’t do UNLV any good Saturday against OSU, but the Rebels’ program is going to get a major infusion of pizazz in 2020 when it will move from its modest 35,000 seat Sam Boyd Stadium to the $1.9 billion Las Vegas Stadium, which the city used to lure the Oakland Raiders to town.
UNLV will bring a 1-1 record into Saturday’s game against Ohio State (2-1). The loss was a shocker when the Rebels were beaten 43-40 in their opener by FCS school Howard, a 43-point underdog. They followed that with a 44-16 win over Idaho and were off last weekend.
History is among the things stacked against UNLV on Saturday. It is 0-11 in its previous games in the Eastern time zone and is 2-14 against teams currently in the Big Ten. The two victories were over Wisconsin in 1986 and 2003.
What this game seems to offer is another chance, like the Army game, for Ohio State to try to improve on the weaknesses which were exposed in its loss to Oklahoma, and to a lesser degree, in its win over Indiana in its opener.
Earlier this week, OSU coach Urban Meyer listed pass defense, continued growth on offense, kickoff coverage and finding a consistent kicker for kickoffs as his top concerns.
From a fan standpoint, the greatest curiosity might be the back-up quarterbacks. Saturday might be a chance to see Dwayne Haskins and/or Joe Burrow get significant playing time if the starters take care of business.
It would be surprising if Meyer and the fans don’t see what they’re looking for.
The prediction: Ohio State 52, UNLV 10.