The Gophers are 14-point favorites for tonight’s game against UNLV, but it would be foolish to overlook these Rebels. UNLV finished 2-11 last year, but it was a young team that now has nine starters returning on offense and nine on defense.
It’s hot now, and isn’t expected to cool down much before kickoff at 6 p.m. Weather.com says it should be about 90 degrees. Here are three things I can’t wait to see tonight:
* The size of the crowd. The Gophers hope to have about 45,000 people in this 50,800 seat stadium. They’ve given away several thousand tickets to incoming students. But there’s no doubt this will be a tough draw with the Twins playing earlier today, the Vikings playing a preseason game at the Dome tonight, and the State Fair going on a few miles away.
* What kind of rhythm will the offense establish, especially in the passing game? Philip Nelson came out with a 10-for-10 first half in the spring game and followed that up with a solid performance in the Aug. 10 scrimmage, both here at TCF Bank Stadium. But now it counts. His receiving corps has been depleted, but I’d expect his tight ends (especially Drew Goodger and Maxx Williams) to become real factors tonight.
* Can junior college transfer De’Vondre Campbell establish himself at outside linebacker? James Manuel is listed ahead of him on the depth chart, but the coaches have been raving about the 6-5, 225-pound Campbell since he got the campus.
Update: The Gophers are wearing their maroon jerseys and maroon pants. ... WR Jamel Harbison is wearing his white jersey and shorts, so it doesn't look like he'll be playing. ... CB Derrick Wells (shoulder/hamstring injuries) also is in white and won't be playing.
Programming note: If there are any other pregame news items, I’ll post them here. And check back later for a halftime report.