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The UNLV Rebels football program is a college football team that represents the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (commonly known as "UNLV"). The team is currently a member of the Mountain West Conference, which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). The program which began in 1968, is coached by former Eddie Robinson Award finalist Bobby Hauck. The team's home games are played at Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney, Nevada.
In 1967, Nevada Southern University announced that they would field a collegiate football program beginning in 1968 and announced that the team would be a Division II Independent and that Bill Ireland would be the program's first head coach. The Rebels played their first game of their inaugural season on September 14, 1968 against the St. Mary's Gaels at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. The Rebels won the game, defeating the Gaels 27–20 in front of 8,000 fans. The Rebels remained undefeated until the last game of the season, losing to Cal Lutheran Kingsmen, 17–13, as the Rebels finished their inaugural campaign 8-1. The following year the Rebels played their first game against in-state rival Nevada, losing to the Wolf Pack 30–28. UNLV gained revenge, defeating Nevada the following year, 42–30, in the first year that the Fremont Cannon was awarded. On September 25, 1971, the Rebels played their first game against a Division I school, when they played Utah State of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA), ultimately losing 27–7. On October 23, 1971, the Rebels opened their new home, Las Vegas Stadium, against Weber State, losing 30–17. At the end of the 1972 season with a disappointing 1-10 record, Coach Ireland announced he was stepping down, leaving the Rebels with a 26-23-1 record.
Ireland was replaced by Ron Meyer before the start of the 1973 season and Meyer led the Rebels back to powerhouse status with an 8-3 record, including their first victory over a major college opponent, thrashing Marshall 31–9. The Rebels continued their strong campaign, breaking the national Division II top-10 and announcing their first All-American, running back Mike Thomas, who ran for the Division II national rushing title with 1,741 and setting nine school records in the process. The Rebels' success continued in 1974 with the only undefeated season in school history, finishing 11-0 and ranking second in the national Division II polls, the highest any Rebels football team has ever placed. The Rebels embarked on their first post-season journey in a national quarterfinal against Alcorn State, defeating the Braves 35–22 in Las Vegas. The Rebels memorable season ended in the national semifinals in the Grantland Rice Bowl, losing to Delaware 49–11. Coach Meyer left the program in 1976 to take the head coaching position at collegiate powerhouse, Southern Methodist University.