Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

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December 14, 2012
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FODDER: New Mexico Bowl will be offensive explosion


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . Saturday morning's Nevada Wolf Pack-Arizona Wildcats New Mexico Bowl just might be the most exciting bowl game of the season. Two amazing offenses. The top two running backs in the nation with Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and the Pack's Stefphon Jefferson. And two horrible defenses. There is nothing like horrible defenses to spice up a bowl game and, well, the New Mexico Bowl might have the two worst bowl defenses of all 70 teams playing in the postseason. The highest scoring bowl game in history is the 64-61 Marshall win over East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl in double overtime. The highest scoring bowl game that ended in regulation was last year's 67-56 Baylor win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Both records could be in jeopardy on Saturday in Albuquerque.

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Chris Ault's pistol offense, though, doesn't always show up in bowl games. The Pack has averaged just 17 points in its last six bowls. If the Pack scores fewer than 21 points on Saturday -- they should score 51 against this Arizona defense -- you have to wonder if the pistol is simply a great regular season offense that merely takes advantage ill-prepared defenses.

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Can a victory in a bowl game propel a team to a great season the following year? That's just a myth. The Wolf Pack was humiliated by SMU 45-10 in the 2009 Hawaii Bowl and then went 13-1 in 2010. The Pack beat Boston College 20-13 in the 2010 Kraft Bowl to cap that amazing 13-1 season and then has gone a mediocre 14-11 since without even so much as one league title. The Pack beat Ball State in the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl and then went 5-6 in 1997. Bowl games mean absolutely nothing.

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Coach David Carter deserves a ton of credit for pumping life into this Wolf Pack men's basketball team. Carter changed his starting lineup three games ago and the Pack is suddenly playing with energy, with intensity and with a sense of urgency. Carter is coaching his tail off this year trying to keep this team's head above water before the unforgiving Mountain West schedule begins next month.

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Why does it always take Wolf Pack fans about two months to discover that basketball season has started? Crowds at Lawlor Events Center this season have been ridiculously low for a team coming off a 28-7 season. The official numbers have the Pack averaging 6,218 fans a game so far at home but don't believe it. That is tickets distributed. There probably hasn't been more than 3,500 bodies in the seats at any one of the six home games so far.

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Don't be surprised when Colin Kaepernick leads the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl victory this February. Kaepernick is 25 years old and in his second season. Tom Brady was 24 and in his second season when he won his first Super Bowl. Dan Marino was 23 and in his second year when he played in his only Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger was 23 and in his second year when he won his first Super Bowl. Joe Montana was 25 and in his third year when he won his first. There's no reason why Kaepernick can't do it this year.

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Kaepernick is the gift that keeps on giving to the Wolf Pack football program. Now that Kaepernick is a rising star in the NFL -- wait until he wins a Super Bowl in February -- the Wolf Pack will get more national publicity than ever before and it will last a dozen years. Chris Ault will become a genius for being the only head coach to offer him a scholarship. The legend will grow concerning the Pack's amazing 2010 season. The national media will finally figure out that Kaepernick was one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history and should have finished second (he was eighth) to Cam Newton in the 2010 Heisman Trophy voting. It is time the Wolf Pack retires Kaepernick's No. 10 jersey before it shows up in sports goods stores all across the nation.



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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 14, 2012 01:37AM Published Dec 14, 2012 01:35AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.