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UNLV vs. Kansas: Picks, best bets for Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Tuesday

The Rebels and Jayhawks do battle in a baseball stadium.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Kansas at Cincinnati Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The UNLV Rebels take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Tuesday, December 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

UNLV (9-4, 6-2 MWC) lost their final game of the regular season before falling to Boise State, 44-20, in the Mountain West conference title game. The Rebels grabbed wins over Air Force, Colorado State, and Vanderbilt this season. Quarterback Jayden Maiava was one of the breakout stars of the 2023 season in college football and finished 2023 with over 2,700 passing yards. The Rebels haven’t lost many players to the transfer portal this offseason — something of a rarity for a program this size, and a testament to first-year head coach Barry Odom.

Kansas (8-4, 5-4 Big XII) finished their season on a strong note with a dominant 49-16 win over Cincinnati. Their best win of the season came over No. 12 Oklahoma, but that was followed up with close losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. The Jayhawks were led by quarterback Jason Bean for most of the season after Jalon Daniels sustained a back injury. Bean passed for over 1,600 yards, 12 touchdowns, and four interceptions this season. Running back Devin Neal added over 1,200 rushing yards and 15 TDs on the ground.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

UNLV: 60 overall, 35 offense, 98 defense
Kansas: 31 overall, 23 offense, 58 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

UNLV

RB Courtney Reese - Out (transfer portal, 233 yards, 4 TDs)
DE Zavier Carter - Out (transfer portal)
S Cameren Jenkins - Out (transfer portal)
WR Jordan Jakes - Out (transfer portal)
QB Jayden Maiava - Expected to start despite portal rumors

Kansas

WR Tanaka Scott - Out (transfer portal, 3 receptions, 31 yards)
OT Bryce Cabeldue - Out (transfer portal)
OG Michael Ford Jr. - Out (transfer portal)
TE Will Huggins - Out (transfer portal)
WR Reece Thomas - Out (transfer portal)
TE Trevor Kardell - Questionable (undisclosed)
TE Will Huggins - Out (transfer portal)
QB Jalon Daniels - Likely Out (back)
QB Jason Bean – Likely starter

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

UNLV: 10-3 ATS
Kansas: 7-5 ATS

Total in 2023

UNLV: Over 8-5
Kansas: Over 6-6

Team Pace

UNLV: 24.9 seconds per play
Kansas: 28.7 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Kansas -13
Total: 67.5
Moneyline: Kansas -520, UNLV +390

Weather

Dome

Our Best Bet for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl

UNLV +13

The Rebels were 10-3 against the spread this season, and with a spread this size, I like them to cover. Maiava is young, but has already made his mark this season, and will be playing in this game despite transfer portal rumors making the rounds in early December. The Rebels rank 35th offensively in the SP+ rankings, and while they may not be able to pull off another Power 5 win, I like them to keep this one close.