Kansas vs. UNLV prediction: Guaranteed Rate Bowl odds, pick, best bets
Two teams that were never a threat to make a bowl for years meet up in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix tonight.
The Kansas Jayhawks are playing in their second straight bowl game following 13 consecutive seasons without reaching one. Kansas faces the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, who are in their first bowl game since 2013.
The Jayhawks finished 8-4 this season, but only two of those wins came against teams that are headed to bowls.
Kansas beat Oklahoma as seven-point home underdogs, 38-33, while knocking off Iowa State, 28-21, as 2.5-point road underdogs.
Kansas vs. UNLV prediction
(9 p.m. ET. ESPN)
In the three seasons leading up to the current one, UNLV had won just seven games, but the Rebels have turned things around under head coach Barry Odom, who went 9-4 in his first season in Vegas.
The Rebels reached the Mountain West Conference Championship but lost to BYU, 44-20.
One of Odoms best moves was hiring Brennan Marion as his offensive coordinator.
The 36-year-old former Texas assistant has moved up the ranks quickly and fell into Odoms lap after Bobby Petrino initially accepted the Rebels OC job before taking the same offer from Texas A&M.
It was a blessing in disguise, as Marion brought an exciting brand of offense to UNLV called Go-Go that confuses opposing defenses with tons of pre-snap motion and just about every formation imaginable.
Head coach Barry Odom of the UNLV Rebels. Getty ImagesThe results: UNLV became a top-10 rush explosive offense and ranked 25th in Passing Success Rate and 27th in on-target rate.
It bailed the Rebels out many times, covering for a leaky defense that will be missing one of its top pass rushers, outside linebacker Zavier Carter, who entered the transfer portal and opted out of tonights game.
The Rebels posted one of the nations top records against the spread this season at 10-3, as their biggest win came against Air Force as short road underdogs.
But the Rebels also won as underdogs early on against Vanderbilt and UTEP, who combined for a 5-19 record.
Kansas’ Jason Bean stepped in for the injured Jalon Daniels at quarterback this season and threw for 1,681 yards and 12 touchdowns.
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Bean only threw for 300 yards once (410 yards and five touchdowns in a loss to Oklahoma State), as the Jayhawks leaned on a strong ground game, led by Devin Neal, who rushed for 1,209 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Jayhawks lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Arkansas in last season’s Liberty Bowl, as KU should be motivated here even as a heavy favorite.
Let’s lay the points with Kansas.
Pick: Jayhawks -10.5 (BetMGM)
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