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Nevada to face Maryland in Humanitarian Bowl

BY DARRELL MOODY

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” Nevada football fans better get their warm weather gear back out.

The Wolf Pack, 7-5, accepted an invitation Sunday to the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, where they will face Maryland, 7-5, of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m.

This will mark Nevada’s fourth straight bowl appearance, a school record, and the second time in three years that the Pack has played in Boise. In 2006, Nevada lost 21-20 to University of Miami at the then-MPC Computers Bowl at Bronco Stadium.

It will be the first-ever meeting between Nevada and Maryland, coached by Ralph Friedgen, who has taken the Terrapins to six bowl games in eight years.

“I’m pleased they finally made the announcement,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said Sunday night in a press conference at Legacy Hall. “To be able to play an excellent Maryland team. It’s a terrific honor and we’re looking forward to it. Boise State does a great job of hosting the event. It’s a great city for football.”

It will be a special moment for Nevada’s seniors, especially those that Ault recruited five years ago when he returned to the sidelines.

That group includes wide receiver Mike McCoy, center Dominic Green, guard-tackle Brad Eskew, injured guard Greg Hall, injured running back Luke Lippincott, linebacker Joshua Mauga, safety Uche Anyanwu and special teams standout Andy McIntosh, who started his career as a preferred walk-on. Other seniors are wide receiver Marko Mitchell, linebacker Jerome Johnson, offensive lineman Clayton Johnson and defensive tackle Mundrae Clifton, all of whom are junior college transfers.

“It’s like the UNLV wins,” Ault said. “It’s a great opportunity for them. It’s nice to go to a bowl game, but the object is to win. I made that clear last week. This is a special senior class.”

“It feels really good,” said Clifton. “It feels good to get another chance. A couple of weeks ago, we didn’t know if there was going to be an opportunity for another game.”

Nevada is on a two-bowl losing streak. In addition to losing to Miami, the Pack was blanked by New Mexico, 23-0, last year in the New Mexico Bowl.

“It’s another shot for us, another game for us,” Green said. “It feels good to go to four straight bowl games. It’s a big accomplishment. Three years ago we beat the University of Central Florida in two overtimes. It’s one of the best feelings to win a bowl game.

“Coming up short against Miami and being embarrassed by New Mexico, I’m motivated to play my best and lead the offensive line.”

Green missed last year’s New Mexico Bowl game with an injury.

Ault said that they had been planning for Maryland for a while, and the staff is in the course of breaking down game film.

“We’re learning as much as we can,” Ault said. “They are very physical, a big football team. They have an excellent running back who gained almost 1,000 yards. They are very physical up front. They are committed to the run.”

Ault likened Maryland to Fresno State and Boise State in terms of running the football.

Da’Rel Scott gained 959 yards and scored six times. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry, Devin Meggett gained 422 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per rush.

Quarterback Chris Turner started 10 of the 12 games for the Terps. He completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 2,318 yards and 11 scores. His favorite target is Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has 38 catches for 561 yards and a team-high five TDs.

Clifton anticipates a great challenge and said Nevada’s defense, which made critical stops to preserve last week’s win against Louisiana Tech, to beat Fresno State and to keep the game against Boise State close in the second half, hadn’t yet peaked.

“We have a lot of room for improvement,” Clifton said. “When we get it all together, we’ll be something to watch out for.”

Maryland’s defense is led by linebacker Alex Buick (121 tackles), linebacker Dave Philistine (91 tackles), linebacker Moose Foci (72 tackles, five sacks), defensive back Jeff Allen (63 tackles) and down lineman Jeremy Nave (63 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks).

“They (the Terrapins) remind me of Texas Tech in terms of physicality,” Ault said.

Maryland beat four Top 25 teams ” California (35-27), Clemson (20-17), Wake Forest (26-0) and North Carolina (17-15). The Terps started slow with a 14-7 win over Delaware and a 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee State.

When a reporter said that Maryland was a hard team to get a gauge on, Ault pointed out that Nevada lost to New Mexico State.

“You have to put everything in perspective,” Ault said. “It’s a long season. The past means nothing. We’ll be the underdog and our preparation has to be exact. It’s a one-game season.”

NOTES: Tickets will be available at the Nevada ticket office (775) 348-PACK … Nevada starts preparation today and Ault wants to get the maximum number of practices allowed prior to the game … Nevada will arrive in Boise on Dec. 26. Among the activities planned are a Winter Sports Day at Bogus Basin and there is a hospital visit scheduled on Dec. 29 … The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or (775) 881-1281