Rebounding programs UNLV and Kansas meet in Arizona in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Mon, Dec 25, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

Rebounding programs UNLV and Kansas meet in Arizona in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas (8-4, Big 12) vs. UNLV (9-4, Mountain West), Dec. 26, 9 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

Line: Kansas by 12 1/2 according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Series tied 1-1.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?

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UNLV is looking to cap off its best season best season in decades against a Kansas program that's appearing in consecutive postseasons for the first time since 2007-08. The Rebels had nine straight losing seasons before former Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom took over the program. UNLV has won at least nine games since Randall Cunningham led the 1984 team to an 11-2 season and is playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2014. The Jayhawks have put a long, dismal stretch behind them with two straight bowl appearances in three seasons under Lance Leipold. Kansas had 13 straight losing seasons before Leipold took over and quickly returned the program to respectability.

KEY MATCHUP

UNLV's defense vs. Kansas' offense. The Rebels had the Mountain West Conference's top offense, averaging 34.3 points per game. Their defense has been porous at times, allowing 402 yards per game. UNLV will certainly be tested, even after Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki left for Penn State. The Jayhawks averaged 434 yards and 33.6 points per game, and running back Devin Neal was eighth nationally with 211.3 rushing yards per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kansas: QB Jason Bean. The sixth-year quarterback has been solid since Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year Jalon Daniels went out with a back injury after three games. Bean threw for 1,681 yards and 12 TDs with four interceptions in nine starts. He's also a threat to run, adding 259 yards and three TDs rushing.

UNLV: KR Jacob De Jesus. A threat anytime he touches the ball, De Jesus led the FBS in combined kick return yards with 1,019 - 157 more than the next closest player. He was third in punt returns at 16.1 yards per attempt and 12th in kick returns at 26.3 yards.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game will be played at Chase Field, home of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, for the 12th time. ... UNLV was second nationally in rushing TDs with 37, behind only Liberty's 39. ... Neal is the fifth Kansas player to eclipse 3,000 career yards rushing with 3,006. ... UNLV WR Ricky White III was fourth nationally in receiving yards with 1,286 and scored seven TDs. ... The Jayhawks committed 55 penalties this season, 14th-fewest in the nation. ... The Rebels are seeking their first bowl win since the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl. ... Kansas hasn't won a bowl game since the 2008 Insight Bowl, also in Phoenix.

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