Top 40: QBs who faced Nevada Wolf Pack and went on to the NFL |

Top 40: QBs who faced Nevada Wolf Pack and went on to the NFL

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
Luke Falk, then playing for Washington State, beat Nevada in 2017.
Associated Press

The Nevada Wolf Pack football program has spent the bulk of its history toiling in the obscurity of mid-major Division I-A conferences, Division I-AA and Division II, but that doesn’t mean it has avoided playing future National Football League quarterbacks.

The Wolf Pack has a long and sometimes painful history of facing future NFL quarterbacks, including one whose bust is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was once an NFL MVP and champion.

The Pack has gone up against five quarterbacks who have passed for over 20,000 NFL yards and seven that have passed for 100 or more touchdowns.

This past season will likely add to this impressive list of NFL quarterback talent. Two Pack quarterback opponents from 2019, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love, are projected to be first-round selections in the NFL draft April 23-25. Another, Hawaii’s Cole McDonald, left school a year early to jump into this year’s draft. You might also have to include Ohio’s Nathan Rourke, who beat Nevada in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, on this list.

That means that more than half (four) of the Wolf Pack’s six losses this past season might have come against future NFL quarterbacks. The same was true in 2013 when the Pack faced future NFL quarterbacks Brett Hundley (UCLA), Jameis Winston (Florida State), Derek Carr (Fresno State), David Fales (San Jose State), Garrett Grayson (Colorado State) and Taysom Hill (BYU) and lost to all six on the way to an eight-loss season.

A look back at the top 40 future NFL quarterbacks the Pack has faced. Today, numbers 31-40:

40. David Fales, San Jose State

FALES VS. PACK: The Wolf Pack beat Fales and the Spartans, 38-16, at Mackay Stadium on Nov. 16, 2013. Fales, who spent the 2009 season as a redshirt freshman with the Wolf Pack, completed 28-of-43 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown. Fales was replaced on the Pack quarterback depth chart in 2010 by redshirt freshman Cody Fajardo and Fajardo beat Fales in 2013 by completing 21-of-28 passes for 206 yards and rushing for 104 and a TD.

FALES IN NFL: A sixth-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2014, Fales appeared in five games from 2014-19 with three NFL teams (Bears, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets) and passed for 287 yards and one touchdown.

39. Luke Falk, Washington State

FALK VS. PACK: Falk completed 36-of-47 passes for 478 yards and five touchdowns as Washington State whipped the Pack 45-7 at home on Sept. 23, 2017. The game was the last quarterback start by the Pack’s Kaymen Cureton and the last game overall of David Cornwell’s career.

FALK IN NFL: Falk, a sixth-round pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2018, spent the 2019 season with the New York Jets, appearing in three games with two starts (0-2 record), passing for 416 yards and no TDs.

38. Doug Nussmeier, Idaho

NUSSMEIER VS. PACK: Nussmeier faced the Pack twice. He completed 21-of-36 passes for 249 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in a 31-28 Pack overtime win on Sept. 29, 1990 in Reno and was 14-of-31 for 135 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 31-23 Pack win at Idaho on Oct. 5, 1991.

NUSSMEIER IN NFL: Nussmeier was taken in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints in 1994. He played five games with the Saints over two seasons in 1996-97 (0-2 as starter) and passed for 455 yards and a TD.

37. Moses Moreno, Colorado State

MORENO VS. PACK: Moreno was 17-of-24 for 245 yards and a touchdown in a 45-13 win over the Pack on Aug. 30, 1997 in Fort Collins, Colo. Pack QB John Dutton, a sixth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1998, was 13-of-30 for 179 yards.

MORENO IN NFL: Moreno was drafted in the seventh round (1998) by the Bears. He appeared in nine games (0-3 as a starter) in the NFL with the Bears and San Diego Chargers from 1998-2000, passing for 485 yards and a score.

36. Caleb Hanie, Colorado State

HANIE VS. PACK: Hanie passed for 113 yards and completed 14-of-25 passes with two interceptions in a 28-10 loss to the Wolf Pack in Reno on Sept. 16, 2006. The victory, engineered by Pack QB Jeff Rowe (19-of-22, 210 yards, two scores) was the Pack’s first against Colorado State after eight losses dating back to 1974.

HANIE IN NFL: Hanie was not drafted but did play in 10 games with four starts (0-4) for the Bears and Denver Broncos from 2009-12, passing for 679 yards and three touchdowns.

35. Brent Pease, Montana

PEASE VS. PACK: Pease completed 28-of-45 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-17 loss to the Wolf Pack in Reno on Sept. 20, 1986. Pack QB Eric Beavers was 19-of-28 for 409 yards and three TDs.

PEASE IN NFL: Pease was drafted in the 11th round in 1987 by the Minnesota Vikings. He appeared in 20 games over two seasons (1987-88) with the Houston Oilers, passing for 792 yards and three touchdowns. His only three starts (2-1) came as a replacement player in 1987 for the Oilers. Pease, now a Montana assistant coach, has been the offensive coordinator at Florida, Boise State, UTEP and Kentucky.

34. Glenn Carano, UNLV

CARANO VS. PACK: Carano, a Wooster High graduate, faced the Pack three times and helped UNLV win three Fremont Cannons. He was 11-of-16 for 74 yards and a TD in a 28-7 Rebel win on Nov. 16, 1974. The following year (Nov. 22, 1975) he completed 12-of-25 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for two touchdowns in a 45-7 UNLV win at Mackay Stadium. As a senior on Nov. 20, 1976 in Las Vegas, Carano was 15-of-30 for 325 yards with two TD passes and two TD runs in a 49-33 win over Nevada and rookie coach Chris Ault.

CARANO IN NFL: Carano played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1978-83 as a backup to Roger Staubach and Danny White. He appeared in 36 games with one start (1-0) and passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

33. June Jones, Portland State

JONES VS. PACK: Jones and Portland State came to Mackay Stadium with their revolutionary run-and-shoot offense on Nov. 13, 1976. The Wolf Pack beat Jones and Portland State 45-20. Jones was 20-of-45 for 266 yards and three interceptions (Tom Foster had two of them). Future Douglas High coach Mike Rippee ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns for the Pack.

JONES IN NFL: Jones went undrafted but did play in 17 games as a backup for the Atlanta Falcons from 1977-81. He made five starts (1-4) and threw for 923 yards and three scores. Jones would later become the Falcons head coach from 1994-96. He’s was also head coach at Hawaii and SMU where he had considerably more success (6-3 record) against the Pack than he did as a QB.

32. Tony Graziani, Oregon

GRAZIANI VS. PACK: Graziani completed 16-of-29 passes for 227 yards in a 44-30 win over the Pack on Sept. 7, 1996 at Oregon. Pack QBs John Dutton and Eric Bennett combined to complete 31-of-50 passes for 434 yards as Geoff Noisy caught 12 passes for 162 yards.

GRAZIANI IN NFL: Graziani was a seventh-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 1997. He appeared in 18 games through 1999 with five starts (2-3) and passed for 999 yards and two touchdowns.

31. Kellen Moore, Boise State

MOORE VS. PACK: Moore faced the Wolf Pack in four memorable games from 2008-11, winning three. In his three victories, in 2008, 2009 and 2011, he was a combined 65-of-114 for 818 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his only loss, 34-31 in overtime on Nov. 26, 2010 at Mackay Stadium, he was 20-of-31 for 348 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

MOORE IN NFL: Moore, the current offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, was not drafted. He did, however, play in three games with the Cowboys and Detroit Lions over the 2012-15 seasons with two starts (0-2). Moore passed for 779 yards and four touchdowns and has been a Cowboys coach since 2018 when he was just 30 years old.