Game Day: Previewing The Minnesota Gophers Match-up With the UNLV Rebels

By Will Wilson

Ok, so not everyone will be excited about a game that features two teams who won a total of five combine games last season. But C’MON MAN! Its Game Day and everyone should be excited that the season is finally here.

Today, we here at Rant Sports give you a quick look at Thursday night’s season opener in the desert, where Minnesota Gophers travels to play at UNLV in Las Vegas. The Gophers look to compete in the Big Ten this season and have an outstanding dual-threat quarterback in MarQueis Gray. We’ll also see a few speedy wide receivers for Minnesota that are ready to bolster their passing game.

THURSDAY: Minnesota, 3-9 11′ at UNLV, 2-10 11′ (11 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

What this game means for Minnesota: The Gophers need to have this game if they intend on having a successful season in year two of the Jerry Kill era. Winning only three games last season including one Big Ten win is not going to cut it. The Gophers have a quarterback who can make plays all over the field. But in order to be successful, Minnesota is going to need other players to step up and help Gray get the job done.

What to watch for: QB MarQueis Gray. It will be interesting to see how far the Gophers developing receivers have come and how well Gray can get the football to him. Gray was banged up at times last season and needs to stay on his feet for the team to be successful. UNLV’s defense is known for their struggles to defend the pass.

Turning it around: The Gophers look for a strong effort from their defense who allowed 31.7 points per game in 2011. They gave up 40 points four times and struggled terribly against inferior opponents. Their best game of the season came against USC in the opener where Minnesota lost 19-17.

Matchup to watch for: The Gophers defensive line against UNLV’s offensive line. Minnesota needs to control the line of scrimmage and shut down UNLV running backs Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle. Both are remote weapons for the Rebels and Minnesota struggled to stop the run in 2011. Minnesota’s defense may be too big for UNLV and could struggle to get a push to help quarterback Nick Sherry.

Will Wilson is a writer for Rant Sports covering College Football and the Big Ten Conference.

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