LAS VEGAS - The UNLV football team kicks off its season Saturday night against the Wisconsin Badgers at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Badgers usually travel well, but these are unusual economic times.
For the first time, the game between the Rebels and the Badgers is not sold out. Blame the Badger fans. "I think there are a little less fans, but they'll show their support when they're there," one Badger fan said.
Badger fans usually outnumber Rebel fans, but not this year. Only the die-hard supporters made the trip. After all, it's still Las Vegas. "(It's) better than going to Indiana," said a Badger fan.
Wisconsin fans are abandoning the pep rally they staged last year in Las Vegas, which drew about 13,000 people. But, those who are here this year say they will be every bit as loud. "You'll definitely hear us for sure," one Badger fan said. "It's still the energy. It's the fun. It's the excitement. It's Las Vegas."
You won't hear the University of Wisconsin marching band, which stayed home this year. Badger fans say they plan to fill the silence left by the band. "You'll hear us," one fan said. "Me and 10,000 of my closest friends will be there."
Badger fans from all over say they are invading Las Vegas for this weekend's game. "I'm a Badger (alumnus), not too far away, California," one fan said. "We've got a good group of buddies coming out from all over the country," another fan said. "We get a crowd of crazy Badger fans in one crazy city, it's a good time."
Not even tough economic times will keep these Badger fans from supporting their team in Las Vegas.