New Mexico Bowl
The offense has taken some time to gel but eventually came together to help win four of their last six games to get bowl eligible. The two losses were by a combined five points at home vs. Hawaii and on the road against San Jose State. Their final game, on the road vs. Louisiana Tech, had each team searching for bowl eligibility. That win shows how far this team had come since the road losses to Nebraska and Northwestern. This team could be a real force next season and may show that against New Mexico who might have problems with the diversity Nevada can display on offense.
New Mexico is favored but if they’re going to even have a chance to win this game they’ll have to dominate it defensively. Star tailback Rodney Ferguson was ruled academically ineligible for the bowl game. Gone are his 14 total TD’s and over 1,400 total yards. Since the second leading rusher, Paul Baker, a diminutive junior, never had more than 14 carries in a game, it’s difficult to gage how he’ll respond to receiving the bulk of the carries. New Mexico will have to rely on erratic quarterback Donavan Porterie to carry the offense. Unfortunately the only real threats to catch passes are senior wide receivers Marcus Smith and Travis Brown. Both have come up big at times this year but they’ll need another option to emerge for Porterie or the Nevada safeties will help their corners with a double team on every passing down.
Overall it has been a great season for the Lobos. Three of the four losses came to bowl-bound opponents, they beat one in Air Force, won their in-state rivalry against New Mexico State and beat a BCS school on the road against Arizona. Losing Ferguson might be too much for this team though. The game will rest with their defense who rank fairly high in most statistical categories. No. 23 in total defense, No. 25 in scoring defense, No. 31 in run defense and No. 22 in pass defense. It should also be noted that this is a home game for the Lobos, that will keep them in the game even with their leading rusher sidelined.
It should be close but I’m expecting big things out of this Nevada team next year that starts right now.