Nevada heading to Boise |

Nevada heading to Boise

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – The worst-kept secret in Northern Nevada became official Wednesday afternoon when Nevada accepted a bid to play the University of Miami in the MPC Computers Bowl.

The game is scheduled for Dec. 31 at Bronco Stadium. Kick-off is slated for 4:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.

It will be Nevada’s (8-4) second consecutive bowl appearance. Nevada beat Central Florida 49-48 in overtime at the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl. It’s the first time that Nevada has made back-to-back bowl appearances since 1995-96 when the team participated in the Las Vegas Bowl.

“This is exciting news,” said Nevada coach Chris Ault, who was on a recruiting trip. “This is a great opportunity to meet a school with a lot of football tradition. We are looking forward to the game.”

“We’re very excited to go to a bowl game for the second straight year,” said Tim DeRuyter, the Pack’s co-defensive coordinator. “We get a chance to play another game. It’s great for our seniors to get to play again after last Saturday.”

Miami, which has been racked by the death of defensive end Bryan Pata and other off-the-field problems this season, is 6-6, and will be playing its final game under head coach Larry Coker, who was fired recently. The Hurricanes are five-time national champions.

“We are very pleased to be bowl-eligible and to have an opportunity to play in a bowl game,” Coker told Miami-area reporters. “We have a lot of young players, and I think the bowl experience will be good for them. I’ve heard good things about the MPC Computers Bowl, and I know that Boise is an outstanding and vibrant city. We look forward to representing the University of Miami well.”

QB Kyle Wright threw for 1,655 yards and eight scores this year, and he’s backed up by Kirby Freeman. Running back Javarris James rushed for 767 yards and four scores, and Greg Olsen caught 38 passes for 444 yards and a TD. Defensively, the ‘Canes are led by John Beason, who had a team-leading 66 tackles this year.

Miami would qualify as being the most-recognizable school that the Nevada program has faced outside of WAC rivals Boise State and Fresno State.

“Growing up I was always a big fan (of Miami),” Nevada running back Luke Lippincott said. “I never thought we’d be playing them. It’s exciting that we’re playing a team of that caliber. Their record doesn’t indicate how good they are.”

It’s ironic that Nevada is playing the game on Boise State’s home field, the same team that pounded Nevada 38-7 in the regular-season finale at Mackay Stadium.

“It’s going to be a great challenge,” quarterback Jeff Rowe said. “They have a good team. Hopefully the Boise fans will be behind us.

“I’ve seen them just a little bit on ESPN. It will be a tough game. They’ve had to go through some tough stuff.”

The big question surrounding Nevada is how the Pack will rebound from the Boise State loss, and one would expect Ault to drive his troops pretty hard to prepare for the Hurricanes.

Notes: Tickets for the game in Boise are now on sale, and can be purchased for $50 through the Legacy Hall ticket office, which opens at 10 a.m. … Nevada is expected to resume practice sometime next week. It will be a busy time with coaches out recruiting and players preparing for finals in between practices … Nevada athletic director Cary Groth said that the MPC game wasn’t her first choice, only because the game falls the day after the men’s basketball game in Seattle against Gonzaga, which stretches the athletic department staff. For that reason alone, she would have preferred to go to the New Mexico Bowl. Groth said the vote by WAC athletic directors was 7-0 for Nevada to go to Boise.