Guaranteed Bowl Matchups To Watch

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Devin Neal carries ball upfield against Kansas State. Photo Courtesy of The University Daily Kansan // Dylan Shah.

UNLV Football is set to play its first Big-12 opponent of the 2023 season at Chase Field for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 26th at 6 p.m. PST. The bowl will be the Rebels first since 2014 and they are looking for its first bowl victory since 2000. 

Here is a preview of individual player matchups to watch between the Rebels and the Jayhawks.

Ricky White vs. Cobee Bryant

Ricky White is the eighth UNLV receiver to rack up over 1,000 yards in a season and has the single-season receiving record for the Rebels with his 1,386 yards in 2023. 

White has totaled over 100 yards in five of his last six games and the player to prevent him from reaching the century mark at the bowl game is defensive back for the Jayhawks, Cobee Bryant.

Bryant is the shutdown corner for Kansas and has recorded three interceptions along with a forced fumble this season.

“Cobee has been Kansas’ number one corner the last two years,” The University Daily Kansan Sports Editor, Sam Winton said. “I think this year he’s really taken a step to be a more complete corner. He doesn’t have the stats that he did last year but what he’s been able to do is just completely lock down the side of the field and really just take away a team’s number one receiver in a really impressive way.”

Jayden Maiava vs. Jason Bean 

Jayden Maiava is the freshman phenom for the Rebels and has an opportunity to finish his season by beating a second Power 5 school.

Maiava made the most of his opportunity in Week 3 against Vanderbilt after starting quarterback Doug Brumfield got injured. Maiava threw for 261 yards and found the end zone twice in the game to defeat the SEC school, and he has been the starting quarterback since.  

In his freshman year, Maiava has thrown for nearly 2,800 yards and carried the ball for over 250 yards on the ground. 

Under center for Kansas is Jason Bean, and like Maiava, is a dual-threat quarterback who can make plays with his legs.

“He’s also probably the fastest player on the team,” Winton said.

Bean averages the second most yards per carry for the Jayhawks, averaging 6.3 yards, and has a nose for the end zone, finding it three times this season on the ground.

On the air, Bean has the ability to make big-time plays; however, he is frequently inconsistent. 

“When he’s been good, he’s been really good. If he’s landing his deep ball it makes him really hard to stop,” Winton said. “I think sometimes he can be a little inconsistent with his reads and just doesn’t always make the smartest decision.” 

In his 11 games played this season, Bean has completed 105-of-171 of his passes for 1,681 yards, 12 touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Rebel Runnin’ Backs vs. Devin Bean

The Rebels will bring out its three-man committee against the Jayhawks of Donavan Lester, Vincent Davis, and Jai’den “Jet” Thomas. 

UNLV, in the “Go-Go” Offense, will spread the ball to multiple running backs. 

All three backs average over 4.5 yards per carry and have combined for 27 touchdowns for the Rebels this season. 

Kansas has two running backs who have carried the load for them this season with Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw. 

“They’re really complimentary of each other. Neal can run through the tackles, but he can also break it outside. He’s got a really good cut ability. I think he makes people miss,” Winton said. “Hishaw is just a complete bruiser. He seeks out contact, he wants to go run a guy over so I think they do a good job of just balancing each other out and whatever Kansas needs offensively.”

The primary back out of the two is Neal, who has accounted for over 180 carries this season.

Neal has racked up 15 touchdowns over 1200 yards this season and looks to contribute to a Jayhawks bowl victory.

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