Nevada, Boise State game to be televised | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada, Boise State game to be televised

As expected, Saturday’s game between Nevada and undefeated Boise State will be televised nationally at 4:45 p.m. by ESPN.

The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., but has been changed for television. It will be the second time Nevada has been on ESPN this year. Nevada lost to Louisiana Tech on Labor Day in its season-opening game in Ruston, La.

With Boise State one win away from a possible BCS bowl bid, the game is extremely important for the conference, and the fact that it will be shown in prime time on the East Coast, is a plus for the WAC, according to commissioner Karl Benson.

“If you look at last week, ESPN showed the Florida-Florida State game in that same spot,” he said on the weekly WAC conference call. “We’re awfully glad it’s on TV. They (ESPN) are sending one of their top announcing teams (Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried) to do the game. ESPN recognizes it’s a huge game in terms of end-of-the-season standpoint.”

Benson will be busy promoting Boise State, which needs either No. 5 Texas to lose on Friday or No. 4 Cal to lose to Southern Mississippi, to move into that coveted sixth, and final, BCS slot. Utah is currently sixth and shouldn’t drop.

The fifth and sixth teams are at-large spots. One spot would be in the Fiesta Bowl against the Big 12 and the other would be in the Sugar Bowl against an SEC team.

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Even if Boise State doesn’t move up enough for a BCS bowl, it will be presumably playing in a non-WAC bowl game this year. Benson said last week he’d had preliminary discussions with the Liberty Bowl about Boise State playing there, and he admitted that he’s talked to a couple of other bowls about the Broncos, but he wouldn’t reveal which ones.

Fresno State and UTEP would fill two of the three WAC bowl spots, and Hawai’i, if it can beat Northwestern and Michigan State in the next two weeks, will become bowl eligible and host the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl.

Benson believes Boise State very well could be No. 6 instead of Utah.

“Boise State achieved everything Utah has,” Benson said. “If Boise State had started the season ranked ahead of Utah, Boise State would be sitting in that No. 6 spot. It shows you how close they are.”

n Benson said he believes there will be enough teams to fill all the bowl games.

“You’ve got the MAC with five bowl eligible teams, Troy State from the Sun Belt is sitting out there and Conference USA has two or three teams out there

(trying to qualify). There’s Hawai’i, and Arkansas is playing LSU and needs to win to be bowl eligible. Without Arkansas and Hawai’i, I think there will be

enough.”

There has been some moving around since last week in terms of bowl games.

The Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose will have a Mid-American conference team in the game instead of a Pac-10 team, and the opponent figures to be either

UTEP or Fresno State. The Pac-10 only had three bowl-eligible teams, two of which, Cal and USC, figure to be playing in BCS games. The Emerald Bowl in

San Francisco will have Navy instead of a Pac-10 team in its game on Dec. 30. The Midshipmen would face a Mountain West team, presumably Wyoming or New Mexico.

The Insight.com Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona is expected to take Notre Dame, and the Irish will most likely play Arizona State. If Northwestern doesn’t beat the Rainbow Warriors this weekend, a team from the Big East would likely fill in for the Big 10 in the Motor City Bowl.

One thing for sure, there figures to be some wheeling and dealing throughout this week and over the weekend.

n The final regular-season WAC game won’t be this weekend. It will be next Monday night in Houston when Rice hosts Louisiana Tech at Reliant Stadium.

“It will be interesting,” said Jack Bicknell, Louisiana Tech head coach. “I’ve never played (coached) a team on a Monday night. It will be great. It’s an excellent place for us to go to. They (Rice) are a very good football team. They did a great job against UTEP (overtime loss) the last time out. You add the option into that and anything can happen.”

It will be interesting for Rice, too. The Owls haven’t played since losing to UTEP back on Nov. 13. The layoff has its good and bad points, according to Rice coach Ken Hatfield.

“It’s awkward,” Hatfield said. “After eight straight weeks (actually nine) we were worn out. We had a couple of kids play over 90 snaps in a couple of our games. We needed time to get healthy legs again.”

Hatfield said that he plans to give the players only Thursday off this week, and that the Owls would practice Friday and Saturday with a walk-through set for Sunday.

n Tulsa was last year’s Cinderella team, posting an 8-5 record. The Golden Hurricane have fallen on tough times; posting a 2-5 record in conference, although they easily could be 5-2. Tulsa lost a 54-48 triple-overtime thriller to Nevada, took Boise State down to the wire before losing 45-42 and lost 41-35 in overtime to SMU.

“I’m proud of the team,” coach Steve Kragthorpe said. “There were points and times where we could have closed it down and moved on to next year. I’m pleased with the way we’ve responded to ups and downs. We’ve stayed the course. I’m impressed with the way we’ve worked Monday through Friday to get ready to play on Saturday. We’ve battled every week.”

n Hawaiíi wide receiver Jason Rivers caught nine passes for 167 yards and four scores en route to winning WAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The four touchdowns was a school record, while the nine catches and 167 yards were career bests for the Hawaiíi standout. The Rainbow Warriors beat Idaho 52-21.

Tulsa linebacker Nick Bunting was named as the WAC’s top defensive player after recording 12 tackles, including a sack, in the 34-24 win over San Jose State. He also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

Boise State kicker Tyler Jones won the honor for special teams. He converted all seven of his extra points and kicked field goals of 39 and 33 yards in the 55-14 win over Louisiana Tech.

Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or by calling (775) 881-1281.