Gameday: Gophers vs. UNLV

  • Updated: August 29, 2013 - 12:46 PM
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Donnell Kirkwood rushed for 82 yards against UNLV last year and could carry a big workload in tonight’s season opener.

THE CALL BY JOE CHRISTENSEN

THE OPPONENT

UNLV went 2-11 last season, including a 30-27, three-OT loss to the Gophers, and has a 22-game road losing streak, dating to Oct. 24, 2009.

6 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN • Radio: 107.9-FM

Line: Gophers by 14 • Series: Gophers lead 1-0

GOPHERS offense vs. REBELS defense

UNLV ranked 95th among FBS teams in scoring defense last year (32.6 points per game), and the Gophers ranked 94th in scoring offense (22.1). Donnell Kirkwood rushed 13 times for 82 yards in last year’s opener at UNLV. QB Philip Nelson will be quick to find tight ends Drew Goodger and Maxx Williams. Former Gophers TE John Rabe caught two touchdown passes against UNLV last year. Advantage: Gophers

REBELS offense vs. GOPHERS defense

UNLV senior tailback Tim Cornett tore the labrum in his left shoulder against the Gophers last year but still finished the season with 1,232 rushing yards. Quarterback Nick Sherry, a 6-5 sophomore, had more interceptions (17) than touchdown passes (16) last year but played a full season. He’ll be facing a secondary that could be missing Derrick Wells because of injuries. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Gophers list Chris Hawthorne as their starting kicker, but coach Jerry Kill hasn’t announced a punter. Marcus Jones, who has twice torn an ACL, will be back returning kicks. UNLV senior Nolan Kohorst was a first-team All-Mountain West selection last year, hitting 12 of 14 field-goal attempts. Advantage: UNLV

INTANGIBLES

It’s 100 degrees in Las Vegas this time of year, but UNLV holds training camp in slightly cooler Ely, Nev. Still, the Rebels should be better prepared for the heat than the Gophers. Minnesota is excited to open at home, but it could be a tough draw with competition from the State Fair, Twins, Vikings and prep football. Advantage: Even.

PREDICTION

With first-game jitters causing turnovers and penalties, the Gophers will find things too close for comfort into halftime. But Minnesota’s running game will wear down UNLV’s defense in the second half.

 

Gophers 37

UNLV 20

NUMBERS TO KNOW

0-20

UNLV’s road record under fourth-year coach Bobby Hauck.

 

3

Interceptions thrown by Sherry against Minnesota last year.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT …

Eric Murray

Sophomore CB makes his first career start. He could be tested.

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