top of page

Kansas Jayhawks Flock to Phoenix to Take On the Rebels of UNLV in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl

The Kansas Jayhawks (8-4) and UNLV Rebels (9-4) are set to face off in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. The Jayhawks, coming off their best season in 15 years, are looking to top off their great season with a bowl win, while the UNLV Rebels look to avenge a crushing Mountain West Championship loss with a bowl win over a Power 5 school. Let's take a look at the matchup.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl Broadcast Info

When: Tuesday, December 26th, 2023

Time: 9:00 PM EST

Where: Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ


Calling: Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Stormy Buonantony

Radio: ESPN Radio (Check Local Listings)

Betting Line

Kansas -13.0

Over/Under: 66.5

Tale of the Tape: Kansas Jayhawks

The Kansas Jayhawks went 1-2 in their last 3 games of the season, but the two losses came on 1-score nailbiters that saw third-string QB Cole Ballard have a majority of the playtime. With Jason Bean back, Kansas capped off the season with a convincing 49-16 drubbing of lowly Cincinnati highlighted by an offensive masterclass. This time, the Kansas offense will go up against a UNLV defense that is ranked 93rd in the land, which should offer easy pickings for this offense that is ranked 28th. With UNLV allowing 163.3 rushing yards per game, it bodes well for the dynamic rushing trio of Devin Neal, Daniel Hishaw, and Jason Bean. This being said, Kansas is without now former offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, who took the same position at Penn State, however, the Jayhawks are still in good hands with offensive co-coordinator Jim Zebrowski. You can read more on that departure as well as more on Coach Zebrowski here.

Defensively, the Jayhawks have made strides throughout the year, going from a bottom-of-the-barrel defense to a much more respectable unit that specializes in the passing game. While Jayden Maiava certainly poses a threat, the Jayhawks need to focus their efforts on the UNLV run game, which averages 179.5 yards a game. If the Jayhawks can contain the run, force errors from Maiava, and get this UNLV offense that is an FBS leader in explosive plays of 30+ yards, off the field, then they will win convincingly. UNLV doesn't have the horses on defense to compete against the nation's 8th-best run game, and Jason Bean can certainly let it fly.

Top that with the Jayhawks only being lightly affected by the portal with the loss of key defensive lineman Gage Keys, and you've got a good recipe for success and a Hawk victory. They do still have missing pieces at the offensive line due to injury and Dominick Puni opting out for NFL preparation, however, they have a lot of depth at the position and it shouldn't be a big issue.

Tale of the Tape: UNLV Rebels

The Rebels are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Boise State Broncos in the Mountain West Championship game. To make matters worse, many key defensive players such as EDGE Zavier Carter have entered the transfer portal and opted out of the bowl game. UNLV will be going up against a mighty challenge, hence the 13-point underdog status, however, they still have a few key pieces that could help achieve an upset victory. They'll be motivated by their first postseason appearance since 2014, as well as the tragic events that occurred on UNLV's campus on December 6th. A win here would do this program and this university a lot of good, but it will be challenging.

Offensively, school record-setter and All-American receiver Ricky White will be a handful for Kansas's own All-Big 12 corners Cobee Bryant and Mello Dotson. While Kansas's pass defense is one of the stronger units in the nation, UNLV may still consider using White as an asset to keep this Kansas defense on its toes. The Rebels' biggest offensive strength has been their run game though, at least regarding overall numbers, and against a Kansas run defense that is 94th in the country, this could open up opportunities. The three-headed monster of Vincent Davis, Jr., Jai'Den Thomas, and Donavyn Lester could have a field day if Kansas does not shut them down early.

Defensively, the Rebels will, in all likelihood, struggle unless they can stuff the run and put pressure on Jason Bean. 163.3 yards of rushing allowed will simply not cut it if they want to win, so making sure Neal, Hishaw, and Bean don't have any room to breathe is the name of the game. Much easier said than done, but the Rebel defense has had their bright spots, like allowing a normally high-powered offense in Wyoming to rush for just 121 yards and have 176 yards passing. Wyoming is not Kansas though, so the defense will have to come up huge this game and shut down the run game as well as Jason Bean's confidence.

Conclusion and Final Score Prediction

This one will come down to which rushing offense will gash the opposing defense more. Both teams have very strong, very deep rushing attacks. It'll be a war in the trenches with some medium to long-range passes sprinkled in, and while Kansas is missing Bryce Cabledue, Dominick Puni, and Michael Ford, Jr., they still have some major beef up front like Mike Novitsky to bully a deteriorated UNLV defensive line. The Kansas defense handled business against a decently strong rushing attack in Cincinnati, they'll have to do it again to make sure they win just as convincingly. UNLV could certainly make this close, if things go perfectly/Kansas isn't careful, the Rebels could even take home a W. However, it seems unlikely with their defense missing major pieces. Motivation may not be able to overcome that, unfortunately. Hawks by two possessions, but not without a major fight from the Rebels.

Final Score: Kansas 45-UNLV 31


Michigan Football
Blue Screen
bottom of page