Scenic AT&T Park will be the backdrop in the inaugural Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Sunday between the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Boston College Eagles.
The Wolf Pack’s bark resonated loudly this season, culminating in one of the biggest upsets ever against Boise State. Nevada’s 12-win season set a record for “The Pack”, which truly displays how amazing this year’s squad played.
Boston College also exceeded expectations in 2010, winning their final five games to become bowl eligible for the 12th straight season. The Eagles traveled to San Francisco last year to play in a bowl game in AT&T Park, but fell to a faster, more talented USC.
Speed could be a huge problem for Boston College again in this year's bowl. The Eagles look squarely down the barrel of Nevada’s eighth ranked offense, which is looking to make another stand for its Non-AQ brethren.
Let us breakdown the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and see which team really has the bigger edge.
The edge at quarterback in this bowl game is really a no-brainer.
On one side, Boston College experienced a carousel of quarterbacks through the year, finally landing on Chase Rettig to close out the season. In eight games, Rettig threw for 1,117 yards and a measly six touchdowns.
Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, is a dual threat who can pick apart a defense as easily with his arm as he can with his legs. Kaepernick closed out his senior season passing for 2.830 yards and an outstanding 20 touchdowns.
If you haven’t seen Kaepernick magically orchestrate the Wolf Pack’s pistol offense, you won’t want to miss out on his last game.
Three 1,000 yard rushers will partake in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Not only does Nevada boast two rushers that eclipsed 1,000 yards, but Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua also combined for 39 rushing touchdowns on the season.This unbelievable duo has been a nightmare to contain and the Eagles should experience more of the same.
While Boston College’s Montel Harris rushed for 1,243 yards, he only scored eight touchdowns. If the Eagles have any chance of beating Nevada, they will need their running game to carry a heavy load.
Boston College’s receiver corps relies mainly on freshmen. Bobby Swingert led all Eagles receivers this season with 36 catches, 494 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. Leaning on inexperience players, within a stagnant offense, with the nation watching, might be too much to ask.
Despite not having a natural go-to receiver, Nevada’s wide outs are little bit taller, a little bit older, and much more productive. The Wolf Pack posted four receivers with over 30 catches in 2010 and had nine different receivers catch touchdowns.
Junior Rishard Matthews led the group with 787 yards on 48 catches and four touchdowns.
Boston College’s offensive line struggled to keep their quarterback’s jersey clean this season, giving up a gaudy 27 sacks.
Nevada finished the regular season ranked ninth in sacks allowed (10), providing Kaepernick time to work his magic in the backfield. The Wolf Pack also ranked second in third down conversions (56.1-percent), which was mainly because of their solid offensive line.
Sacks were not the only reason for their successful season. Moch ranked third in the nation in tackles for loss (22.0) with Roy adding 12.5 TFLs of his own. With the troubles that Boston College’s offensive line has witnessed this season, Moch and Roy could be a reoccurring nightmare for the entirety of this game.
The Eagles’ have relied on a production by committee with their defensive line this season and will most likely do the same against Nevada. The most promising athlete on the line has to be sophomore Max Holloway, who led the eagles with four sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
However, the real linebacker star of this game has to be Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, who finished the season with the most total tackles in the FBS (171). The 6-3, 235 pound sophomore linebacker patrols the field with gusto and can be found in the vicinity of the ball on almost every play.
Edge: Boston College
Boston College’s secondary ranked 10th in interceptions this season, snatching an impressive 19 passes. Junior Donnie Fletcher was a ball hawk, collecting five interceptions and making his presence known on every down. Sophomore DB Jim Noel played alongside Fletcher, grabbing four interceptions on the season, which was equally impressive.
Nevada’s secondary was definitely one of their weakest areas this season. Luckily for the Wolf Pack, they have squared off and survived against stronger passing games than Boston College.
Edge: Boston College
Special teams were not exactly a strong suit for Nevada this season. The Wolf Pack’s kickoff return squad allowed 1930 yards, which ranked 117th in the FBS. Their woes continued onto their field goal team, where they only nailed 66.7-percent of their tries.
On the flipside, Boston College had several bright spots in special teams. Although they ranked dead last in kickoff return yards (17.59 y/ret), the Eagles rank in the top 20 in Field Goal Percentage (87.0), opponent punt returns yards (3.75 y/ret), and opponents kickoff return yards (19.91 y/ret).
Edge: Boston College
In his second season as Boston College’s head coach, Frank Spaziani found a way to keep the Eagles’ bowl streak alive despite suffering a gut wrenching, five-game losing streak early in the season.
Chris Ault brings Nevada to its sixth straight bowl game, but this will be his first time at taking down a BCS team.
Ault’s unbelievable season definitely pulls its weight in this tilt.Thanks to their long time coach, Nevada should finish ranked in the AP’s Top 25 for the first time ever.
Nevada should antagonize Boston College’s defense in this National Championship Game appetizer.
While Boston College has showed promise this season, their offense will without a doubt struggle to keep pace with Nevada’s untamed offense.
With Reno only a four hour drive from San Francisco, this could play like a home game for the Wolf Pack. Expect Nevada to come out strong and keep the pedal to the floor.
Score: Nevada 34, Boston College 17