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Nevada knows it’s going bowling, just not where

Darrell Moody
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor

Bowl speculation is now in full swing with just a handful of games left in the regular season.

Dave Chaffin, WAC assistant commissioner, said that not much will be known for at least a few days.

The Western Athletic Conference has six bowl-eligible teams – Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State. All but San Jose State have won at least seven games and are assured of going to a bowl game. Boise State is going up against Ohio State for the final at-large slot in the BCS pool.

The Spartans at 6-6 will go into a pool of teams because for consideration because there are going to be several bowl openings.

“Calls will be going on today (Monday) and tomorrow,” he said. “We can’t really slot teams (except for Hawaii) because we don’t know what’s going to happen with Boise State. They are trying to work out a deal with Ball State or TCU.”

Nevada coach Chris Ault said he expects to know something by today (Tuesday), and that bowl preparation would start next Monday.

The Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise wants the Broncos to stay home for obvious reasons. The WAC, however, has always been about getting the best possible match-up for its teams. If Boise State were to go to the Poinsettia Bowl, it would face TCU. That might be the best match-up of the bowl schedule.

If Boise State goes out again, it would probably mean that Nevada would end up in Boise for the second time in three years. Miami beat the Wolf Pack 21-20 in 2006.

When Ault was asked if Nevada’s bowl fortunes would be tied to Boise State’s decision, he had a terse no comment. Ault did say that as champions Boise State deserved to play where it wanted.

The only WAC certainty is that Hawaii will play in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24. The Warriors are currently 7-5 with a game on Saturday against Cincinnati. The Warriors were supposed to play a Pac-10 team, but the Pac-10 didn’t qualify enough teams.

It’s rumored that the New Mexico Bowl wants Fresno State because of its ability to draw on the road.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, Conference USA, Big East, Big Ten, the Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt have filled their teams.

Assuming that the Big 12 places two in the Bowl Championship Series pool, there will be openings in the Independence Bowl and the Texas Bowl. The Southeastern Conference, which is expected to place Florida and Alabama in the BCS, is expected to have openings in the Independence and Pappa John bowls.

KAEPERNICK HONORED AGAIN

Colin Kaepernick said he was going to work on his mechanics after sub-par passing games against San Jose State and Boise State.

The hard work apparently paid off, as Kaepernick rallied Nevada from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to beat Louisiana Tech 35-31 and boost the Wolf Pack into a bowl game for the fourth straight year.

Kaepernick completed 24 of 42 passes for a season-best 397 yards and four scores, a performance that won him WAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Kaepernick threw for 291 yards and three scores in the second half.

This is the fourth time Kaepernick has been honored in his career and the third honor this season. Since 2000, Nevada players have been honored 41 times.

Utah State’s Ben Calderwood and Boise State’s Kyle Wilson were honored for their work on defense and special teams, respectively.

Calderwood, a senior, had three sacks for minus-30 yards in the Aggies 47-2 win over New Mexico State. He also recovered a fumble that led to a 56-yard field goal. Calderwood helped the Aggies hold a potent New Mexico State attack to minus-7 yards rushing and 156 yards of total offense.

Wilson, a junior, returned three points for 136 yards in the Broncos’ 61-10 win over Fresno State. Wilson returned a punt 90 yards for a score to extend the Broncos’ lead to 27-10.

NEVADA, UTAH STATE STARS HONORED

Nevada senior point guard Dellena Criner and Utah State forward Gary Wilkinson have been named the women’s and men’s basketball players of the week.

Criner scored 44 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 13 assists to lead Nevada to wins over Northern Iowa and Louisville en route to a Nugget Classic championship. Criner scored 25 against No. 7 Louisville to spark Nevada to an 85-82 win in the championship.

Wilkinson led Utah State to wins over Weber State (75-49) and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (97-57). He averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the week and shot 75 percent from the field.

UH, NMSU REACH NCAAs

New Mexico State and Hawaii will represent the conference at the upcoming NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

The Rainbow Wahine collected a No. 7 seed and will play Belmont at 5 p.m. at USC. It will be Hawaii’s 16th straight NCAA appearance and 27th overall. USC and San Diego play in the other first-round match-up at USC.

NMSU, 25-8, plays Saint Mary’s, 20-7, in a first-round match-up at Haas Pavilion at the University of California.

UTAH STATE HOME STREAK CONTINUES

Beating non-conference teams at home is a piece of cake for the Utah State men’s basketball team.

When Utah State ripped Cal Poly 97-57 it was the Aggies’ 56th straight non-conference win at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The streak is the second-longest in the country behind Duke, which has won 59 straight non-conference games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.