UNLV Rebels head coach Marcus Arroyo walks the sideline during the second half of a NCAA footba ...

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It’s a tidy sum for the coffers, one UNLV athletics can’t count on by merely crafting an annual football schedule. You need a Power Five opponent willing to write the check and welcome you to its residence.

Notre Dame is and has.

The Rebels will enter one of college football’s most iconic venues Saturday, home to Hornung and Montana and Brown and Ismail and so many other legendary names to have made Notre Dame Stadium a front-row witness to such greatness.

Knute Rockne?

Heck. He designed the place.

Hefty payout

What comes with being a 26½-point underdog: UNLV will receive $1.35 million for its trip to where the “Touchdown Jesus” mural exists beyond the north end zone.

“We’d like to have a (guarantee payout) game every year and have it over the first four weeks,” UNLV athletic director Erick Harper said. “This year, it happens to fall in the middle of our schedule, which isn’t ideal.

“But it’s an opportunity for us to be on a large stage and play a big opponent and see where we stack up right now.”

Which is this: The Rebels are 4-3 and have lost two straight. They were outscored by San Jose State and Air Force by a combined 82-14. Read that number again.

Injuries have hit UNLV hard in the most critical of spots, the most notable being talented quarterback Doug Brumfield (concussion). Running back Aidan Robbins has a banged up knee. Others are hurting along the defensive line and wide receiver and elsewhere.

But you don’t make excuses when the opponent is Notre Dame, when opportunity exists to compete in such a historic place against the game-day traditions of gold helmets and bagpipes and leprechauns and the “Victory March” fight song.

The $1.35 million is the most Notre Dame will have paid a visiting opponent from 2018 to 2022 and will allow Harper to spread much of the funds throughout his department for things such as initiatives in nutrition and the health and well-being of student athletes.

There are nonmonetary benefits, too.

“I think for recruiting and stuff like that, we want to be able to play these big games and go places and put the program in a situation where it can be on a national stage,” coach Marcus Arroyo said. “I’ve said that before — the big thing is to go in there and try to play well. Timing is everything. We’re going in there a little banged up, a little nicked up …

“You’d like to have a full army there ready to roll and at full capacity. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. We’ve got to go in there and put our best foot forward.

“I think the biggest thing is not just playing there, it’s playing well there. These games are great because you get to see where you’re at.”

Irish not dominating

Notre Dame (3-3) has hardly been a juggernaut this season. Far from it. Dead-flat average, really.

The Irish have lost twice at home, first to Marshall and then Stanford. They hung on to beat California by seven at Notre Dame Stadium, the same Golden Bears team that defeated UNLV 20-14.

“I know people say you’re nuts for saying it, but if you’re going to line up and put on the uniform and go out and play — if you’re not planning on winning, why put the uniform on?” Harper said. “The guys are confident in themselves and the coaching staff, and we’ll go out and compete and see what happens. Line up and give it your best shot. I think we have an opportunity.

“Hey, why not? Let’s shock the world.”

It would be the greatest of UNLV victories in one the game’s most magical of atmospheres.

Oh, yeah. And that check for $1.35 million isn’t so bad, either.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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