Skip to main content

UNLV hosts Vandy in rare visit by SEC opponent

Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard (14) receives a pass over Alabama A&M cornerback Terphil Bien-Amie (25) during the first quarter at FirstBank Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.
Credit: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Vanderbilt will aim to bounce back from a disappointing loss when it visits UNLV on Saturday.

The Commodores (2-1) fell 36-20 to host Wake Forest last week, due in part to three turnovers. Especially damaging was Will Sheppard’s fumbled punt return, which the Demon Deacons recovered and returned 31 yards for a touchdown.

“I think the disappointment was obviously with the (game) result, but more, as I said after the game, with the way we played,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “No one in this building believes we’re anything but an improved team, but that doesn’t do you much good when you play as sloppy as we played.”

The Commodores also allowed Wake Forest to rush for 288 yards on 48 carries. However, Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann threw for 314 yards and three scores. Two went to Sheppard, who leads the nation with six touchdown catches.

Slot receiver Jayden McGowan has 18 grabs for 214 yards this season and also has returned a kickoff for a touchdown. True freshman London Humphreys had four receptions for a team-leading 109 yards Saturday and the other touchdown catch.

That could be a formula for success against UNLV (1-1), which has allowed an average of 9.2 yards per pass attempt this season.

The Rebels will host a Southeastern Conference team in the regular season for the first time.

They won their only previous meeting with the Commodores, 34-10 on Oct. 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The next week, coach Barry Odom — now UNLV’s coach — brought No. 22 Missouri to Nashville and lost 21-14. That set off a five-game losing streak that cost Odom his job.

The Rebels fell 35-7 at No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield was 10 of 19 for 100 yards passing, while backup Jayden Maiava went 5 of 7 for 68 yards.

UNLV, which was playing without injured starting left guard Alani Makihele, had no turnovers vs. the Wolverines but suffered five sacks.

“We didn’t play the way we wanted to,” right guard Amani Trigg-Wright said. “It forced (Brumfield) to try to be a hero and put on a cape when he shouldn’t have to.”

–Field Level Media