Game Preview: UNLV Opens Up The Season At Home Against Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS MN - DECEMBER 15: Heavy machinery moves snow on the field as TCF Bank Stadium prepares for a potential monday night football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears on December 15 2010 in Minneapolis Minnesota. Preparations are due to the collapsed roof at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)



Football is back.

College football begins Thursday night, and that includes UNLV's home opener against Minnesota. The Rebels are entering Bobby Hauck's third season and Minnesota is beginning the second year of Jerry Kill's tenure as both schools are in the rebuilding stage. Both teams have seen progress, just not progress that has translated onto the field in the form of wins so far in these new coaches' tenures.
UNLV's whole demeanor has been changed from a finesse based spread team to a strength based power team, fitting Bobby Hauck's style of football. Jerry Kill is also going through a similar change, though not nearly as difficult as the change as been for Hauck to complete.

For UNLV, the running game is going to be key as to how the offense performs. With 5 returning starters on the offensive line and the team's leading rusher over each of the past two seasons Tim Cornett also coming back, the rushing attack looks to be set. The question is how the passing game will do. With new quarterback Nick Sherry leading a group of very young receivers, the passing game has good potential, but is going to most likely be very unreliable this season.

UNLV's defense might have trouble stopping the Minnesota offense on Thursday night, particularly the secondary. UNLV only has one returning starter in the secondary of a possible four. Sidney Hodge will be a pretty good cornerback, but the rest of the secondary should struggle as none of them really have much game experience.

As for a prediction, I'm not going to set anything in stone. The bottom line is UNLV definitely has the potential to beat a team like Minnesota, the question is how much the team actually progressed in Spring and Fall camps. If they really matured over the summer, then you can expect a close game. If not, then expect another season-opening loss for Bobby Hauck.

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