unlv football:

Rebels not banking on past Pac-10 success for motivation

UNLV sees no similarities between test from OSU and last year’s trip to ASU

Swagger Like Us

It was one of the biggest wins in the history of UNLV, as the Rebels notched a 23-20 overtime win over Arizona State. Now, as the Rebels prepare to play another Pac-10 team in Oregon State, they reflect on last seasons' upset win.

Click to enlarge photo

UNLV receiver Phillip Payne (18) makes a one-handed catch for a touchdown against Arizona State defensive back Pierre Singfield late in the fourth quarter on Sept. 13, 2008. The Rebels won the contest, 23-20, in overtime.

Next game

  • Opponent: Oregon State
  • Date: Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: CBS College Sports
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
  • The Line: Oregon State by 7
  • Series History: UNLV leads 3-1
  • Last Meeting: Oct. 14, 2002 — Oregon State won, 47-17

Last September, the UNLV football team headed down to Tempe, Ariz., with a 1-1 record, fresh off of a 42-21 thumping at Utah. The squad had a saying in mind as it got set to face then-No. 15 Arizona State.

"Our motto was 'dream big,'" junior defensive tackle Malo Taumua said.

This week, when the Rebels face yet another Pac-10 foe — No. 24 Oregon State — the so-called 'David vs. Goliath' feeling won't be anywhere near the UNLV locker room out at Sam Boyd Stadium.

"When we play Oregon State, it's more expecting to win," Taumua added. "Because we know what it's like to play in Pac-10 country, and now they have to come into our house and play us. (It's) a completely different game, completely different players, completely different team."

While the Rebels this week say there's no comparison between last year's Pac-10 challenge — a 23-20 overtime win in Tempe — and the one they face this weekend, it's hard to deny that some of the confidence UNLV has early in the 2009 season still stems from Mike Sanford's landmark victory as a head coach.

That win was part of a 3-1 start which had plenty around Vegas thinking of postseason possibilities. That, of course, faded during a five-game slide and shut closed with a season-ending loss at San Diego State.

But still, it's hard for many to forget what UNLV did that night, which ended with Taumua blocking a Thomas Weber game-tying field goal attempt in the first OT session.

"That was a game on the road, we had a perfect storm in a lot of ways," Sanford said. "We had a situation where they were looking ahead (a week) to Georgia and a lot of things came together. We played really well. I don't take anything away from that, but this is a completely different deal.

"It's a new year. I think obviously there's some confidence to be gained from beating Arizona State last year."

There's no arguing with Sanford in that last year's Arizona State team and this year's Oregon State club are two different beasts.

The Sun Devils hardly looked the part of a focused team that night, with players and fans alike — there were even signs in the crowd saying so — already thinking about the following Saturday, when No. 3 Georgia came to the desert.

Oregon State, on the other hand, Sanford said, is a team that plays with a chip on its shoulder.

Ninth-year coach Mike Riley is 49-28 in his current run with the Beavers and is an unblemished 5-0 in bowl appearances. Last year, they went 9-4, won the Sun Bowl and even upset Southern Cal early in the regular season.

But they still have a hard time getting out of the enormous shadow that the Trojans cast on the West Coast college football landscape.

"They're probably the most physical team in the Pac-10," Sanford said. "They're not as talented as the 'upper echelon' teams, obviously the Rodgers brothers (running back Jacquizz and receiver James) are as talented as anyone in the league. But what I mean is across the board, they have a bunch of defensive guys who are just tough guys and play hard. They have a really good offensive line that plays hard. It's a completely different deal than anything in the past."

Last year's Pac-10 win may have lost some luster in the eyes of some as the year progressed, as Arizona State was thumped by Georgia a week later, 27-10, and stumbled from there to a 5-7 finish. The loss to UNLV was the start of a vicious six-game skid.

But for several returning UNLV players, the experience of that night at Sun Devil Stadium is still benefitting them to this day.

One in particular is sophomore receiver Phillip Payne, whose one-handed touchdown catch was the highlight of a fourth-quarter comeback from a 20-10 deficit.

At the time, he was just a true freshman, suiting up for his third collegiate game. Since then, he's heard countless times about his phenomenal grab which made SportsCenter's Top Plays just a couple of hours later.

"I might have been the most nervous person on the team," he said. "It all seemed just unreal. I'd never heard keys jingle just before kickoff, and that gave me the jitters. The first play just seemed so much faster than the games before.

"Last year, the theme was 'dream big,' dream that we can beat a big team. This year, it's more of go in and believe we can do it, know that we're gonna go in and win. Not saying that we are, but instead of it being a dream, it should be more of a reality."

Beauchamp's status still unknown

Senior linebacker/defensive end Jason Beauchamp, who sprained his right ankle during Saturday's 38-3 victory over Sacramento State, was held out of practice again on Wednesday afternoon.

Sanford said Beauchamp ran some on the side, and his status for Saturday's game might not be known until game time.

Five Rebels make NFL regular season rosters

With the NFL season set to kick off on Thursday night, five former UNLV players will be on active rosters for the 2009 campaign.

Former Rebels running back Frank Summers will be part of that Thursday opener, as the fifth-round choice of the Steelers back in April makes his pro debut for the defending Super Bowl champs against Tennessee.

Tight end Greg Estandia (2003-05) and linebacker Adam Seward (2001-04) will suit up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who open up at Indianapolis on Sunday.

Third-year cornerback Eric Wright (2006) will play for the Cleveland Browns, who face Minnesota at home on Sunday, but won't be joined by fellow former Rebel Beau Bell, as the linebacker was among the Browns' cuts last week.

Offensive lineman Johan Asiata (2006-08) will begin the year on the Chicago Bears' practice squad.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 8 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. Come on Sanford, you should no better. Not as talented as the 'upper echelon' teams!!! Oregon State has the 2nd best record in the Pac-10 the last 3 years. They are 'upper echelon'. Besides, they had 7 guys drafted last year, which was tied with Ohio St. for the second most in the nation. 5 off of the defense that is supposedly made up of not so talented kids who just play hard. I hope the Beavs make you pay.

  2. Oregon State is not "upper ecehlon". If you are then Utah is as well. They have an incredible record the past three years and they beat you head to head. I doubt you, or anone outside of Ute country would consider the Utes an upper ecehlon team. I would say that "upper echelon" of a league of 119 teams would be the teams who, year in and year out, are in the top 5-8. Oregon State, although very good, is not one of those teams. You finished 9-4 last year and beat a bad Pittsburgh team 3-0 in your bowl game. An upper echelon team does not finish 9-4 and they would blow Pittsburgh out of the water.

    Right now those upper echelon teams are USC, Florida, OK, and Texas. That's it. LSU has dropped off and Ohio State consistently shows they are one of the most nationally overrated programs in the NCAA. They are very good against the Big-10, but that does not say much. Oregon State is usually ranked in the top 25 at the end of the season, but that does not equate to a status change into an elite program in the country.

    I am not a USC fan at all, but I hope they beat you down and do not take their foot off the throttle.

  3. I meant to say 1-5 not 5-8

  4. Reagan21 - READ the article!! He said 'upper echelon' team in the Pac-10. Typical stuff from a Ute. Gobeavs comments are valid, however, I would only say upper echelon if that includes the top 4 or 5 in the conference over the last few years. I'm a die hard Beaver fan but they're not at the point to compete year in and year out with USC for the Conference title.

  5. Sorry, I read it wrong. Although it is vague as to whether Sanford was talking about NCAA or the PAC-10 concerning "upper echelon". I guess we would have to ask Sanford.

    If we are talking about the PAC-10, then I sau Oregon State is an upper echelon team because they have to be #2 behind USC. In a 10 team league the upper would be 1 and 2. 4-5 would be the average teams.

    I am not a Ute. I am a Rebel through and through. However, as someone who knows a lot about the University of Utah, they are superior to Oregon State in both academics and athletics.

    I.e., Top medical and law school. One of the best chemical and biological research universities in the nation. Home of the first mechanical heart. Top MBA program. Top 25 basketball, football, gymnastics, cross country, swimming, diving programs. A very good baseball team, although not nearly as good as Oregon State.

  6. Man, why so touchy??.... Sanford was complimenting OSU. He was saying that despite not getting the same "talent" in terms of highly-touted recruits as the other traditional powers of the league.. (ie the "upper echelon"--USC, UCLA, Oregon), OSU shows that they are the better team by consistently finishing 2nd. In terms of stars and rankings, OSU's classes haven't been as "talented" as other teams, but yet they ARE better than those teams because of their hard work and tough play. That is a compliment. You'll be happier if you learn to take it as such.

  7. OSU beats USC again this year but loses to UNLV on sat. Go BEVs after sat that is. Make us look good.

  8. OSU big, bank on it. Your heard it here.

    All you bettors can praise me after the ugly loss for the reb's.