Pack entertains bowl prospects
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – It’s been widely speculated for the past two weeks that Nevada’s football team was headed to the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24.
That still could happen, but school and conference officials have been talking to other bowls, too.
The Western Athletic Conference has two bowl tie-ins – the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise and the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl. If Fresno State beats Nevada, the most likely scenario had Boise State staying home to play in the MPC Bowl and Nevada going to Hawai’i.
Karl Benson, the WAC commissioner, said Monday there is a possibility that a WAC team won’t be placed in Hawai’i.
“This is the first year that Hawai’i hasn’t played in the Hawai’i Bowl,” Benson said. “It’s important that a mainland team have that experience. It’s a good reward for a good season.”
Benson said the bowl selection committee, which meets today, will study all options. He said that sometimes trades are worked out if the Hawai’i Bowl gets a team to its liking and a WAC team could be placed elsewhere.
Neither Nevada or Louisiana Tech figure to bring good crowds with them, thus the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl folks might be better going after a conference with excess teams.
BYU would be a good fit because the school has a campus on Hilo. The ACC has two extra bowl-eligible teams and both might attract more fans. The Pac-10 might be a good trade if Cal or Oregon would be interested in coming to Hawai’i, and the bowl games that the Pac-10 are in are much closer to Nevada.
Benson, during the weekly WAC teleconference, mentioned the Emerald Bowl as a possibility.
“The Pac-10 (probably) won’t have a team in San Francisco and the obvious proximity between Reno and San Francisco makes sense,” Benson said.
The Las Vegas Bowl, if the Pac-10 doesn’t have enough teams, also is a possibility.
It took a while for junior inside linebacker Jason DeMars to work his way into Nevada’s starting lineup, and it might take just as long to move him out.
DeMars had seven tackles in his starting debut at New Mexico State back on Nov. 12, and followed it up with a career-best 13-tackle effort in Saturday’s 30-24 win over Utah State.
The 13 tackles was a season-best for a Nevada defender, helping DeMars earn Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
DeMars has 31 tackles, including 15 solo stops, ranking him sixth on the team in total tackles. Not bad for a guy who played limited snaps until the past two weeks.
“He was a guy we expected to start earlier,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “He’s done a nice job. He plays with good emotion.”
At 6-3 and nearly 250 pounds, DeMars is more stout against the run compared to other Nevada inside linebackers.
“He’s such a strong (physical) player,” said Ken Wilson, Nevada’s inside linebacker coach. “He’s tore it up the last two games. New Mexico didn’t run as much because it got behind so early, but this last week he really helped the run game.”
SPENCER, FLOWERS READY?
Nevada beat Utah State without Caleb Spencer (hamstring) and Nichiren Flowers seeing limited action.
Spencer injured a hamstring late last week, but Ault said he’ll play Saturday against Fresno State. Ault said Spencer could have played sparingly against the Aggies.
Flowers was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease last week. He’s lost more than 20 pounds in a month, and just never seemed to be at full strength. Medication is expected to combat the illness.
“He’ll practice all week,” Ault said. “It will be the first time in two weeks that he’s practiced the whole week.”
ESPN2 PICKS UP GAME
The Fresno State-Nevada game has been picked up by ESPN2, which will show the game at 4 p.m. instead of the previously scheduled 1 p.m. start.
Several bowl reps are expected to be in attendance, including the Liberty Bowl, Emerald Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl. The former and the latter each have an at-large spot for their games. The Emerald Bowl is a Mountain West Conference-Pac-10 game, but the Pac-10 may be unable to fill its slot which could open things up for other conferences.
n Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281