The Runnin’ Rebels open up against a Big Ten opponent for the third consecutive year, as they welcome in the Golden Gophers to Sam Boyd Stadium on Thursday night. Let’s find out which side you should add as one of your College Football picks.

These two programs will meet for the first time 

UNLV is set to meet Minnesota for the first time in school history, as it looks to improve upon its 2-10 all-time mark against Big Ten Conference foes. The Runnin’ Rebels suffered a 51-17 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers as 34-point road underdogs in their season opener a year ago. This will be the first time that the Golden Gophers will play in the state of Nevada, winning eight of their last 10 road openers by an average of 17 points. 

Coaching staffs are familiar with one another 

Marqueis GrayDespite this being the first-ever meeting between the two programs, it’s important to note that both head coaches faced off against each other in the 2006 NCAA FCS playoffs, with Bobby Hauck’s Montana team coming away with a 20-6 victory over Jerry Kill’s Southern Illinois squad. 

Gray may save the day 

Golden Gophers senior quarterback MarQueis Gray is one of the more explosive dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, coming off a 2011 campaign that saw him throw for 1,495 yards and gain a team-high 966 yards on the ground. His final rushing tally set a school record for single-season rushing by a player under center. Gray split time with Max Shortell under center in last year’s season-opening 19-17 loss to the USC Trojans as 24-point road underdogs.

Thursday night lights in Sin City

College football betting trends show that the Runnin’ Rebels have split their last four Thursday night games since Aug. 30, 2007, but they’ve managed to put together a 4-0-1 against-the-spread record (ATS) in their last five tries in that situation. Minnesota hasn’t played a non-Saturday game since coming away with a 24-17 victory over Middle Tennessee State as one-point road underdogs on Sept. 2, 2010. 

Go for the Kill when opening on the road 

Kill is set to begin his fifth season as a major college football coach, and he loves to start off by hitting the road. The 51-year-old has registered a 3-1 ATS record in those games during his time at Northern Illinois and now Minnesota, with each of the contests coming against BCS conference teams as an underdog. 

Prediction

Sports bettors will find that early action has landed on the Golden Gophers when looking at the college football odds page, but it’s important to note that the Runnin’ Rebels were only out-gained by 25 yards per game at this venue. Hauck has covered eight of his first 11 home games with the program—let’s continue riding that betting trend.

When it comes time to place your College Football picks for this matchup, back the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, expecting them to cover the +8.5 spread.