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UNLV football could have strong 2024 season, Las Vegas oddsmakers say | Betting

UNLV football could have strong 2024 season, Las Vegas oddsmakers say | Betting

UNLV’s football team hasn’t had back-to-back winning seasons since 1983-84. Oddsmakers expect that to change this year.

The Rebels, who went 9-5 in Mountain West coach of the year Barry Odom’s first season, have a regular-season win total of 7 (over-145) at Caesars Sportsbook and 7½ (under-132) at Boyd Gaming.

“They have a phenomenal coach. I think he’ll get them where they need to be,” Caesars head of football Joey Feazel said. “The expectations are high. They certainly can compete for a Mountain West title this year.

“You’ve got the big boys in Boise State and Fresno State that they have to compete with, but they certainly have a shot.”

Westgate SuperBook veteran oddsmaker Ed Salmons is also impressed with Odom. The 47-year-old guided UNLV to more wins in his first season than his predecessor Marcus Arroyo produced in the previous three years combined. Arroyo finished his tenure 7-23.

“(Odom) has dramatically improved UNLV,” Salmons said. “I look for them to be solid again. They seem like a program that’s going to be in the upper half of the Mountain West for years to come now.”

The Rebels started 9-2 last season, with those two losses coming at Fresno State and at eventual national champion Michigan. UNLV then lost its final three games, including the Mountain West title game to Boise State and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl to Kansas.

The Rebels must replace quarterback Jayden Maiava, who decided to transfer Southern California in January less than 24 hours after announcing he would transfer to Georgia. Quarterback Matthew Sluka could slide into the starting role after transferring to UNLV from Holy Cross. Sluka threw for 5,916 yards and 59 touchdowns in four seasons with the Crusaders. He also rushed for 3,579 yards and 38 touchdowns.

The Rebels do return star wide receiver Ricky White, who finished third in the nation in receiving yards last season with 1,483. UNLV also brings back last year’s leading tackler in linebacker Jackson Woodard.

The Rebels open their season Aug. 31 at Houston, where they’re 3½-point underdogs at Caesars and +3 at the SuperBook.

“That’s a game that they can certainly win,” Salmons said.

Feazel projects UNLV to be a 32-point favorite in its Sept. 7 home opener against Utah Tech.

The Rebels, who were one of the best teams in the country against the spread last season at 10-4, then face two tough tests. They play a road game at Kansas on Sept. 13 and a home game against Fresno State on Sept. 28.

UNLV also hosts Syracuse, Boise State, San Diego State and UNR. The Rebels’ other road games are against Utah State, Oregon State, Hawaii and San Jose State.

“They’ve got to go to Oregon State this year, but that’s not the Oregon State we’ve seen in the past,” Feazel said. “(The Rebels) have a very simple way to close out the year. They kind of have the bottom half of the Mountain West. They’ll be almost double-digit favorites (against) Hawaii, San Diego State and (UNR).

“It’s really kind of the middle part of their schedule where they have to come out with a winning record to get over that total.”

Bottom of the Pack

UNR has one of the lowest win totals in college football at 2½ (u-125) despite playing 13 games this season.

The Wolf Pack, coming off consecutive 2-10 campaigns, have a new coach in former Texas co-defensive coordinator Jeff Choate. They also added quarterback Chubba Purdy, the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. Chubba Purdy transferred to UNR from Nebraska.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at [email protected]. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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