CFN Bowl Analysis ... Kraft
Nevada 20 ... Boston Coll. 13
The idea of a non-BCS team beating a BCS conference team needs to stop being seen as any big deal, especially when the non-AQ squad is better and far more talented.
Boston College should be stronger in the next few years and should be a player in the 2011 ACC race, but the program doesn't exactly have Matt Ryan under center at the moment and the defense can only take the team so far. That might not seem fair to QB Chase Rettig, who had to do what he could without star RB Montel Harris, who didn't play thanks to a knee injury, and with a receiving corps that can't run.
Nevada had no fear of the piano-on-the-back Eagle receivers, the safeties were able to cheat up and the linebackers pinned their ears back, and BC was only able to run for 64 yards and the offense struggled to do anything after getting behind. The Eagles have to upgrade the offensive speed and have to come up with some threat of a passing game to help out the great D.
The Wolf Pack couldn't run the ball. 114 yards and a 2.8-yard-per-carry average isn't what the WAC Champion is about, but the defense did its part against the anemic BC offense, Rishard Matthews came up with the one big play on special teams and shook open for his touchdown catch, and the program has a 13-win season.
This win only solidified the season and gave more credibility to the great win over Boise State, and going 13-1 is phenomenal no matter what conference the program plays in. Beating a team from the ACC matters, and doing it in front of 30,000 jacked up fans who made the trip to San Francisco shows the excitement over a program that might seem like it a high point, but needs to use this momentum to do more going into the Mountain West.
- This was supposed to be a showcase game for Nevada DE Dontay Moch, but he was kept in check with just three tackles.
- BC never had a chance once it was determined that Montel Harris wasn't going to play. Andre Williams ran for 70 yards on 19 carries, but 30 came one play. The passing game was non-existent.
- This was a strange was for Colin Kaepernick to close out his great career. He finished with a bowl win, after so many problems in recent years for the Wolf Pack, but the offense didn't really work. He couldn't shake loose as a runner, and while he threw well, it almost wasn't enough. A win over a BCS team is a win over a BCS team.
Nevada got dragged out of its comfort zone, yet still picked up its 13th win of the season.
The Pack showed uncommon versatility and flexibility on Sunday night. Held to its worst game on the ground all year, the nation's No. 3 rushing attack took an alternate route to snap a four-game postseason losing streak. More accustomed to shootouts and track meets, Nevada proved it could survive a bare-knuckle brawl with Boston College. Instead of the running of RB Vai Taua and QB Colin Kaepernick, it leaned on the passing game, special teams, and the D, especially the secondary. And it was enough to survive. The Pack didn't just win a bowl game in San Francisco. It capped the program's best season ever by flipping the script and enduring with a completely different formula for success.
- Maybe it was because he's yet to gain much traction nationally. Or maybe it was because he plays for a mediocre program in the Northeast. Whatever the reason, Boston College LB Luke Kuechly didn't get quite as many accolades as he deserved, but that's guaranteed to change in 2011.
- Shouldn't we be seeing more progress out of Boston College QB Chase Rettig by now? Sure, he's only a true freshman, but he's been playing since the middle of October and had ample practice time preparing for this game. He still looks like a wide-eyed rookie, sailing passes and failing to properly set his feet. While wise to get reps for a young guy, the Eagle quarterback woes are going to persist beyond next season.
- Sure, the Nevada D played well in San Francisco, but let's not get too carried away. Boston College is home to one of the most atrocious ACC offenses in recent memory, and the offensive line has underachieved throughout the season.
By Matt Zemek
Nevada and Boston College both received a raw deal in this contest. The Wolf Pack and the Eagles would have had a bigger stage in late December. They also would have enjoyed shorter layoffs instead of having to deal with 36-day (Nevada) or 43-day (Boston College) breaks following their final regular season games.
Nevada, for its part, deserved a better opponent after a WAC championship season and a win over Boise State, but it was fired up to beat a BCS league team. Boston College deserved to avoid two straight trips to San Francisco, having played in the (December) 2009 Emerald Bowl against USC in what turned out to be Pete Carroll's last game as the coach of the Trojans.
San Francisco is a world-class city, but it's absurd to make a Boston-based program fly across the country (and demand its fans to do the same) for two straight winters, while the Wolf Pack fans had just a four hour road trip to make it a home game.
Sense and sanity have flown the coop in the world of bowls, and this doesn't even touch on the fact that the scheduling of the Fight Hunger throwdown – right after two NFL playoff games and a day before the BCS National Championship Game – created an event that lacked buzz and was easily swallowed up by outside distractions.
On-air broadcasters basically spent the night talking about Oregon and Auburn. Nevada looked the part of a team that was less than fully excited to play a middle-tier opponent instead of an elite foe; a club like Oklahoma State or Missouri would have roused Nevada's passions. In this San Francisco trick (not a treat), Nevada's players – especially the Wolf Pack's receivers – had something on their minds other than football. It was only because of Boston College's grave and unchanging offensive impotence that Nevada managed to leave town with a win. Bowls should be celebrated and cherished as peak moments for players, fans and broadcasters. Instead, the ridiculous Jan. 9 date – instead of a sensible Dec. 28 slot – turned this game into an afterthought, much like the Jan. 8 Compass Bowl between Pittsburgh and Kentucky. It shouldn't come as any kind of shock that these lower-tier bowl games played after the BCS showcases in Miami and New Orleans (and, of course, Pasadena and Glendale) have been ragged, sloppy and profoundly uneven. Extended layoffs are one problem with Jan. 9 bowls involving non-elite teams. College football's unwillingness to conclude the bowl season with anything other than its highest-profile matchups has taken the luster away from its bowl lineup. Sadly, this affects Nevada, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Miami, and all the other teams who have been placed in difficult emotional and logistical positions. Next bowl season, life doesn't have to be so hard or riddled with stupidity. Play four of the five BCS bowls by Jan. 2. Stage the BCS title game by Jan. 4. Then play a plus-one two weeks after the BCS title game's equivalent (in a better, fairer world).
It doesn't have to be this way: The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl affirmed the need for college football to revise its bowl schedule to a considerable degree.
--Luke Kuechly was clearly the best player on the field in San Francisco. With Boston College's amped-up defense being the one unit that really seemed to care about competing at an elevated level on Sunday night, Kuechly smothered Nevada's vaunted pistol-based running attack and made Colin Kaepernick throw more than the quarterback wanted to. Kuechly flew around the field of a baseball stadium with an élan and exuberance that were lacking from most of the night's principals. Great figures in any field of endeavor will transcend their surroundings, and on a night when the television broadcasters opted to talk about anything other than Nevada and Boston College, Kuechly managed to keep his eyes riveted on the prize… and on Vai Taua. That's an immense credit to a first-class athlete.
--The officiating in this game was wretched. An inexplicable unwillingness to overturn an incomplete pass and rule a Boston College fumble deprived Nevada of a favorable drive start in the first half. Later, a number of pass interference calls on Nevada were not made, giving Boston College legitimate reason to wonder why the course of human events can be so cruel. One more time in this 2010-2011 campaign, legions of currently unemployed Americans were reminded that they could do a better job than the person actually getting paid to erroneously review plays in the replay booth.
---As poor as the officiating was on Sunday, the coaching was worse. Nevada's Chris Ault puzzled everyone in the ballyard when he sat on three timeouts late in the first half, despite the fact that Boston College was going to get the ball first in the second half. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani returned the favor by punting twice while facing a 20-10 deficit in the final 13 minutes of regulation. Spaziani then wasted a timeout before kicking a field goal near the four-minute mark. Coaches should almost always go for broke in bowl games that don't carry considerable consequences; moreover, they should be able to know the finer points of game management, especially after a break of more than a month. One hopes that Spaziani and Ault will brush up on their timeout-handling skills when the 2011 season begins.