UNLV vs UTEP | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics

New FSM Preview: Week 5 – UNLV vs UTEP – 2023

Franchise Sports Media


UNLV is on the road this weekend as they travel to El Paso, Texas, to take on the UTEP Miners on Saturday evening.

UNLV vs UTEP is taking place this Saturday. 

UNLV vs UTEP | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Elvin Anderson/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV closes out its non-conference schedule by making the program’s first trip in 30 years to play at UTEP on Saturday night.

The last time these two tangled in Texas, the Rebels were members of the Big West Conference, and the Miners were in the WAC. UNLV leads the all-time series, which kicked off in 1978, 6-2, but the Miners have taken two of the three meetings at the Sun Bowl. Ironically, UNLV and UTEP did not face each other when they were members of the same conference when both schools helped make up the 16-team WAC from 1996-98.

The Rebels are looking to improve to 3-1 on the year, while the Miners are looking for their second win in the 2023 campaign. UNLV has not won more than two non-conference games in a season since going 3-1 in 2008. Last week, UNLV improved to 2-0 at home this fall with a 40-37 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday, while the Miners fell at Arizona, 31-10.

UNLV pulled off an incredible three-point win over Vanderbilt last Saturday. Even with the win, UNLV has some questions to answer revolving around the status of quarterback Doug Brumfield.

In the first half of the Vanderbilt game, Brumfield left the game with an injury. Backup quarterback Jayden Maiava took over for Brumfield and was a major contributor to the offense. In relief, Maiava passed for one touchdown, one interception, and 261 yards while rushing for another TD. Wide receiver Ricky White III dominated Vanderbilt’s secondary with 12 catches for 165 receiving yards in the victory.

The Wildcats ran up a season-high 544 yards of total offense on their way to a 31-10 win over UTEP last weekend in Arizona. The Miners totaled 332 yards, including 75 yards on seven plays on their final drive to get into the end zone.

UNLV wants to improve to 3-1 on the season. 

The big question for UNLV heading into this week’s game is the health of quarterback Doug Brumfield.

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

UNLV vs UTEP | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics

Brumfield was hurt in the first series of last week’s game against Vanderbilt. He tried to gut it out in the second series of the game for the Rebels, but he couldn’t continue and had to be helped to the locker room. Jayden Maiava took over and helped lead UNLV to a 40-37 win and pick up the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Week honors.

As I stated on this week’s Hey Reb Pod, I do not anticipate Brumfield playing this week against UTEP. The long-term health of Brumfield is first and foremost in the coach’s eyes, and it helps the staff feel confident in Maiava. Should Brumfield miss multiple weeks, the Rebels seem to be in capable hands in Maiava.

Last week, Maiava proved he could lead the offense against stiff competition. He showed unflappable poise, especially in the 4th quarter and after he threw an interception late in the game. Maiava came back to hit White III for a 48-yard gain to set up the game-winning field goal.

If Maiava can build off last week’s strong performance and continue to be a threat, not only with his arm but also his legs, UNLV could put up some big-time points against this UTEP defense. Last week, Maiava went 19-33 and threw for 261 yards and a TD while rushing for another.

The Rebels defense also needs to step up once again. Last week, UNLV caused four turnovers and came up with a big stop on 3rd down with just over a minute left in the game. Fred Thompkins, Jerrae Williams, Jonathan Baldwin, and Ricky Johnson all played vital roles in the win and will need to do so again this week for UNLV.

The key to UTEP’s offense is Miners running back Torrance Burgess Jr. The Miners benefited from Burgess’s versatility in the backfield and the passing game in Week 3 against Arizona. Burgess rushed for 22 yards on eight carries, and he hauled in three catches for 78 receiving yards.

The Rebels will need to control him and tighten up their pass defense. Last week, UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison finished 15-of-31 for 228 yards, while Kevin Hurley, in relief, went 3-of-4 for 55 yards and a score. Wide receiver Tyrin Smith had 64 yards on five receptions in the Miners loss.

UNLV is looking to beat UTEP and improve to 3-1 before conference play starts. 

5 Key Rebels to Watch

Five key players to watch for UNLV.

UNLV vs UTEP | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Elvin Anderson/Franchise Sports Media

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

  1. Quarterback Jayden Maiava: The Rebels need the redshirt freshman to have another big game in place of Doug Brumfield (should he not be available to play).
  2. The UNLV Secondary: UNLV needs their secondary to have another big game, particularly the cornerbacks. Ricky Johnson’s re-emergence was something the Rebels’ secondary needed, and using Cam Oliver on blitzes created winnable situations for the defense.
  3. The Offensive Line: The Rebels must establish the line-of-scrimmage early to run the Go-Go Offense. They also have to give Maiava time to throw. They did look better after the first quarter last week, so signs of improvement are there.
  4. Wide Receiver Ricky White III: White III needed to break out last week, and he did. The Rebels’ talented receiver showed why he is arguably the best wide receiver in the MWC and is the team’s #1 offensive weapon.
  5. Special Teams need to stay special: The UNLV special teams are rated amongst the highest in the country. Last week, Jose Pizano was the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week, and Jacob De Jesus leads the nation in kickoff return yards with 259 and ranks fourth in KOR average at 37.0, which is first among any player with more than five attempts.

It’s time for some Rebels football! #RebelUp

Can UNLV improve to 3-1 when they take on UTEP this week?   

UNLV Head Coach Barry Odom and his Rebels take on the UTEP Miners at 6 p.m. today at Sun Bowl Stadium. The game can be seen on ESPN+. The Rebels are back home next week to take on Hawai’i. Click here for tickets.


-Joe Arrigo   Franchise Sports Media

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

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