Rebels to open Mountain West play in Reno

The Mountain West Conference released its 2015 football schedule on Monday and there was one big surprise for first-year UNLV coach Tony Sanchez.

That annual Battle for the Fremont Cannon rivalry game with in-state rival Nevada expected to be played either on Nevada Day or on the final weekend of the season? Scratch that.

Nope, UNLV will OPEN conference play with the Wolf Pack on Oct. 3.

Blame it on that darn computer that spits out the schedule. The Mountain West did.

“In accordance with the parameters established by the MW membership for the construction of the annual football schedule, there are no protections afforded for ‘rivalry’ games nor are institutions permitted to request placement of games in certain slots,” Mountain West Deputy Commissioner Bret Gilliland said in a statement. “Numerous computer models are run to generate the best possible competitive schedule for all 12 member institutions and those are evaluated in the context of a number of different variables. In 2013, the UNLV-Nevada matchup just happened to fall out of this process on Nevada Day. In 2014, the game just happened to fall out in the last week of the season. Obviously, in the 2015 schedule, neither of those occurred.”

Obviously the Pac-12, which seems to find a way to have rivalry games likes USC-UCLA, Oregon-Oregon State, Cal-Stanford, Arizona-Arizona State and Washington-Washington State at the end of the season each season uses a different computer.

The UNR game comes after a brutal non-conference schedule that opens on Sept. 5 at Northern Illinois followed by a Sept. 12 home game with UCLA and then a Sept. 19 road trip to Michigan where some guy named Jim Harbaugh is now running the show.

The Rebels conclude non-conference play on Sept. 26 at home against an Idaho State team that went 8-4 and finished in a three-way tie for second in the Big Sky Conference behind Eastern Washington. The Bengals lost 56-53 on the road to the Eagles.

UNLV’s home Mountain West games are Oct. 10 against San Jose State, Oct. 31 against defending champion Boise State, Nov. 7 against Hawaii and Nov. 21 against San Diego State.

Besides UNR, the Rebels travel to Fresno State (Oct. 17), Colorado State (Nov. 14) and Wyoming (Nov. 28).

Some dates could be changed later to accommodate TV.

Season tickets for the Rebels which start at $99 are available at unlvtickets.com or by calling 702-739-FANS.

UNLV opens spring practice on March 16.

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