Gophers at UNLV: The Call

  • Updated: August 29, 2012 - 9:44 PM

THE OPPONENT

It's a basketball school. The Rebels play football, too, but not well; their last winning season was 2000. They have six two-win seasons in the past eight years.

GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. REBELS DEFENSE

The Rebels allowed an average of 40.4 points per game last year, but they were particularly bad against the pass, giving up 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. The Gophers' season might hinge upon MarQueis Gray, who completed only half his throws in 2011, turning himself into a deft passer. Biggest question: Who will be Gray's go-to receiver? Advantage: Gophers

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. REBELS OFFENSE

Two UNLV tailbacks, Tim Cornett and Dionza Bradford, had three 100-yard games apiece last season, by far the Rebels' biggest strength. The Gophers, 11th in the Big Ten against the run, will try to stuff the run, primarily with defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman. The big unknown is redshirt freshman QB Nick Sherry. But toothless UNLV scored only 17 points per game. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Gophers coach Jerry Kill still hadn't settled on a punter by game week, and he said he'll choose a kicker in Las Vegas. Safe to say, the Gophers are a mystery, though Troy Stoudermire and Marcus Jones give them a strong return game. UNLV placekicker Nolan Kohorst can hit from 50 yards. Advantage: Even

INTANGIBLES

The heat is a big one, given the expected 90-degree-plus temperatures. But UNLV hasn't had much experience in the heat this fall, either, having decamped into the mountains for three weeks. The Rebels have home-field advantage, for what it's worth; they are 4-7 at home under coach Bobby Hauck. Advantage: Rebels

PREDICTION

A team full of question marks finally gets some answers, albeit with a helping of heat- and youth-caused mistakes. Gray shows off his improved passing ability, a tailback steps up to seize the job, and the defense does enough to hold on.

Gophers 38

Rebels 24

  • GOPHERS AT NEVADA-LAS VEGAS

    10 p.m., Sam Boyd Stadium • TV: CBS Sport Net. • Radio: 100.3-FM

    Line: Gophers by 8 1/2 • Series: first meeting

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