Ten things to consider in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Ten things to look for during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Sunday night (6 p.m., ESPN) in San Francisco between the Nevada Wolf Pack (12-1) and Boston College Eagles (7-5) . . .
1. Will the Nevada Pistol offense became stale and out of sync in the 36 days off since its last game?
Well, if it does, it won’t be the first time. Head coach Chris Ault’s Pistol offense doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record in bowl games. The Pack scored just 20 points in the MPC Computers Bowl against Miami (21-20 loss) in 2006, was shut out in a 23-0 loss to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl in 2007 and put up just 10 points last December (when running back Vai Taua was academically ineligible) in a 45-10 loss to SMU. The longest layoff the Pack had in any of those games was 36 days in 2006. But, don’t forget, it’s not like the Pack offense always vanishes in bowl games. The offense did fare well against Maryland (a 42-35 loss) in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl and in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl (a 49-48 win over Central Florida). So we’ll see. One thing the Pack has going for itself this year is that the two most important players on offense (quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Taua) are seniors and (keep your fingers crossed) will play.
2. One final monkey to get off Wolf Pack’s back
The Wolf Pack has taken care of quite a few bothersome trends this year. They started a season off 3-0 for the first time since 1991. They beat a Pac-10 team (California) for the first time since 2003. They beat a Top 25 team (Cal, Boise State) for the first time since 2005. They beat Boise State for the first time since 1998. They won a Western Athletic Conference title for the first time since 2005. They jumped into the Top 25 national rankings for the first time since 1948. They finished undefeated at home for the first time since 1996. Well, there’s one more. The Pack will bring a four-game bowl game losing streak into Sunday night. No player on the current roster has ever won a bowl game. There is also one other brass ring for the Pack to grab on Sunday. The Pack is the only WAC team to play a team from a BCS conference this bowl season.
3. Will the Wolf Pack treat this like a comfortable home game or spend the evening looking for World Series souvenirs at AT&T Park?
There’s no question there will be more Nevada fans in the stands Sunday than Boston College fans. The Wolf Pack sold its 15,000-plus tickets and that doesn’t even count all of the Pack fans who bought tickets through the bowl game’s Web site or had a Bay area friend pick them up for them. Pack fans only have to travel four hours by land (many of which will be on Pack party busses) to get to the game. Boston College fans, well, their mind right now is on Tom Brady, their beloved Celtics and Bruins and whether the Red Sox can add another $100 million piece before spring training. This should be a home game for the Pack. And they haven’t lost at home since Sept. 25, 2009.
4. Colin Kaepernick could put on quite a show
The Wolf Pack quarterback could make himself a lot of money Sunday night. Pack fans know how good Kaepernick is. And most college football fans west of Denver know about Kaepernick. This game, though, is going to educate everybody else. It will be the only game on TV after two NFL playoff games on Sunday. An east coast audience will be watching. Kaepernick wouldn’t be the first quarterback to jump up three or four rounds in the NFL draft after an impressive bowl game performance. We’re not saying that Andrew Luck has anything to worry about with the No. 1 pick. What we are saying is that a half dozen or so more NFL teams won’t be able to wait until they steal Kaepernick in the draft next spring after Sunday night.
5. Something has to give
Boston College has the No. 1-ranked rushing defense (80.2 yards per game) in the nation. Nevada has the third best rushing offense (305.92 yards per game) in the nation. The Wolf Pack, which led the nation in rushing in 2009, can make quite a statement Sunday night if they shred the Eagles on the ground. And the same goes for the Boston College defense. Something to keep in mind: The