An aerial photo shows Sam Boyd Stadium in 1971.

Memories Sculpted in Silver

As UNLV football plays its final season at Sam Boyd Stadium, we take a look at highlights for players who opened and who will close it.

A Timeline of Sam Boyd Stadium

Oct. 23, 1971 — UNLV plays its first game at the $3.5 million, 15,000-seat facility then-Las Vegas Stadium, a 30-17 loss to the Weber State (Utah) Wildcats.

Oct. 30, 1971 — The Rebels gain their first victory in the new home, a 55-31 shootout over New Mexico Highlands

Oct. 19, 1974 — Future Pro Bowler Mike Thomas rushes for 266 yards against Boise State. Thomas had nine games rushing for more than 100, and three rushing for 200-plus.

Nov. 16, 1974 — UNLV gets its first win over Reno at Sam Boyd, a 28-7 affair, to even the series at 3-3. The Fremont Canon did make it to the stadium in its inaugural year, but the Rebels beat the Wolfpack in Reno that season. UNLV would go on to win the rivalry game seven more times at Sam Boyd.

1978 — Las Vegas Stadium is renamed the Silver Bowl.

Nov. 27, 1982 — Randall Cunningham completed 26 of 46 for 413 yards against Cal State Fullerton, the second time in the

season he threw for that many yards. Cunningham, who would go on to play in four Pro Bowls, had 24 200-yard games for the Rebels in his College Football Hall of Fame career.

1984 — Another name change makes it the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, named for the local casino magnate.

Nov. 21, 1987 — Ickey Woods carried the ball 37 times for 265 yards against Pacific, third-highest total in school history behind Thomas’ game against Boise and his 314-yard performance in 1973 at Santa Clara. Before he became one of the most important Cincinnati Bengals in that franchise’s history, Woods ground out 1,925 career yards for the Rebels.

Dec. 18, 1992 — The inaugural Las Vegas Bowl sees Bowling Green edge Reno, 35-34. Reno holds the Las Vegas Bowl honor of the most points scored in regulation in a loss.

1994 — The stadium’s final name change sees “Silver Bowl” dropped for good as it becomes Sam Boyd Stadium.

Dec. 5, 1994 – UNLV wallops Central Michigan University, 52-24, in its first appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl behind a four-touchdown, 180 total-yard outburst from future Steeler Henry Bailey.

May 21, 1995 — The Grateful Dead wrap up the third straight night of shows, setting the stadium’s record with 125,533 fans attending, grossing $3.7 million.

Nov. 16, 1996 — Quarterback Jon Denton gains 513 total yards against San Diego State, the most ever at Sam Boyd.

Dec. 21, 2000 — The Rebels returned to the Las Vegas Bowl, this time powered by a second-half attack that saw UNLV upend Arkansas, 31-14 as quarterback Jason Thomas went 12-for-17 for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

Feb. 3, 2001 — Sam Boyd plays home to the first-ever game of Vince McMahon’s XFL, when the Las Vegas Outlaws hosted the New York/New Jersey Hitmen, a 19-0 win featuring possibly the most notable player in XFL history, Vegas’ Rod “He Hate Me” Smart.

April 7, 2001 — The Outlaws would play their final game of the season, a 16-3 loss to the Memphis Maniax. In 10 games, the 4-6 Outlaws only cracked 20 points three times.

Aug. 31, 2002 — The fans, all 38,026 of them, packed into Sam Boyd to see the Rebels take on Wisconsin. It stands as the attendance mark to this day.

Oct. 29, 2005 — The music festival Vegoose kicks off its inaugural year, featuring acts like Dave Matthews, Beck, Arcade Fire, The Flaming Lips, Primus and Ween. The festival would return in 2006 and 2007.

Nov. 24, 2018 — UNLV completes the biggest comeback in school history, erasing a 23-0 deficit to beat Reno, 34-29 behind three touchdowns from quarterback Armani Rogers, and reclaim control of the Fremont Cannon.

Nov. 23, 2019 — The Rebels will play their final regular-season home game against San Jose State.

Dec. 21, 2019 – Sam Boyd hosts its final Las Vegas Bowl.

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