Nevada takes on Kansas at Mackay Stadium in Reno on Sept. 16, 2023.

Kansas holds off Nevada with help of Devin Neal’s 3 TDs

Devin Neal rushed for three touchdowns, including the tiebreaking score in the fourth quarter, as Kansas survived Nevada’s surprising upset bid to earn a 31-24 nonconference win in Reno, Nev., on Saturday night.

Neal’s 3-yard run with 6:20 left in the game snapped a 24-24 deadlock and allowed the Jayhawks (3-0) to stay unbeaten. Jalon Daniels hit 21 of 27 passes for 298 yards, going 11-for-11 in the second half, as Kansas rolled up 441 total yards.

Quarterback Brendon Lewis completed 15 of 22 passes for 113 yards and rushed for two scores for the Wolf Pack (0-3), tying the game on a 2-yard run with 10:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. But on Nevada’s last chance to tie or win the game, Jamaal Bell was stopped for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1 with 44 seconds remaining.

Neal finished with 89 yards on 17 attempts for Kansas, which also got a 1-yard touchdown run from Daniel Hishaw in the third quarter to take a 17-10 lead. Lewis tied it at 17 with a 6-yard scoring run with 3:33 left in the period, but the Jayhawks regained the seven-point advantage 33 seconds later on a 1-yard run by Neal.

Kansas entered the game as a 28-point favorite against an opponent that was outscored 99-20 in losing its first two games against USC and Idaho. But Nevada delivered its best effort despite being outgained decisively.

The Jayhawks opened the game with an impressive 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Neal’s 3-yard run up the middle at the 9:46 mark of the first quarter. But all Kansas managed for the first half’s remainder was a 44-yard field goal by Seth Keller with 8:55 left before the break.

The Wolf Pack got on the board 11 seconds into the second quarter when Brandon Talton made a 42-yard field goal. They put together their best drive to close the first half, going 78 yards on 10 plays and cashing in when Sean Dollars scored from the 3 with 29 seconds remaining for a 10-10 tie at the break.

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans running back MarShawn Lloyd (0) carries the ball against Nevada Wolf Pack defensive back Ezekiel Robbins (13) in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams , No. 6 USC have a field day at Nevada’s expense

Caleb Williams spread touchdowns among four receivers in the first half and finished with 319 yards and five scores overall as No. 6-ranked USC cruised to a 66-14 rout of Nevada on Saturday in Los Angeles.

USC (2-0) needed just 2:15 to score its first touchdown when Williams found Zachariah Branch for a 22-yard score on the opening drive.

Nevada, playing its season opener, gave a quick response, however, tying it up at 7-7 less than two minutes later when Brendon Lewis’ 73-yard pass to Spencer Curtis set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Sean Dollars.

From that point forward, it was all Trojans. On their next drive, MarShawn Lloyd carried 24 yards for their sole rushing touchdown of the first half. Williams connected with Tahj Washington on a 22-yard score the next Trojans possession, then with Michael Jackson III for a 15-yard touchdown.

The three drives lasted 2:12, 2:10 and 1:11.

The longest USC scoring drive of the first half was its last, lasting all of 2:17 and capped by Williams’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Brenden Rice.

Before that Trojans score, Nevada had its most promising possession since the touchdown drive, which went 10 plays and consumed 5:29. However, the Wolf Pack came up empty when Brandon Talton missed a 54-yard field-goal attempt.

Three of the Wolf Pack’s four possessions before halftime ended in USC territory, as Talton missed another attempt of 54 yards just before intermission, and a nine-play drive stalled on a failed fourth-and-nine conversion attempt at the Trojans 39-yard line.

Nevada did not score again until AJ Bianco hooked up with Jamaal Bell for a 77-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. By that point, USC held a 52-14 lead.

Williams threw his fifth and final touchdown on the first USC possession after intermission, hooking up with Washington for a 45-yard score.

Washington caught three passes for a team-high 75 yards. Duce Robinson accounted for all 71 of his receiving yards on a single touchdown catch from Miller Moss, who went 7-of-10 for 134 yards in playing much of the second half.

Lloyd carried seven times for 76 yards, and Quinten Joyner had 65 yards on four carries, including a 47-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter.

The USC defense reached the end zone in the second half on a Stanley Ta’ufo’ou fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Gavin Williams (25) runs the ball against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa trounces Nevada in game marred by weather

Freshman Kaleb Johnson rushed for a career-high 103 yards with two touchdowns to lead Iowa to a 27-0 win over visiting Nevada in a game that extended into Sunday morning at Iowa City, Iowa, because of three weather delays.

The game ended at 1:40 a.m. local time.

The contest was suspended due to lightning at 8:43 p.m., with 10:02 remaining in the third quarter and the Hawkeyes leading 17-0. After being cleared to return to the field, another delay was called at 10:08 p.m. The teams resumed at 11:55 p.m., but after one play, they went into a third weather delay.

The game resumed for good at 12:38 a.m.

The scoring output is a season-high for the Hawkeyes, who beat South Dakota State 7-3 in the season opener and lost 10-7 last week to Iowa State.

After having to punt on their first two possessions, the Hawkeyes scored on a 40-yard run by Johnson, the first touchdown of his career, with 4:36 left in the first quarter.

Iowa’s defense forced Nevada to punt five times in the first half and Cooper DeJean intercepted Wolf Pack quarterback Shane Illingworth in the other possession.

The interception gave Iowa the ball at the Nevada 41. Five plays later, Spencer Petras completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Arland Bruce IV to increase the lead to 14-0 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.

Petras finished 14-of-26 passing for 175 yards and the score.

Iowa put together an 11-play, 69-yard drive on its next possession that ended with a 43-yard field goal by Drew Stevens.

The Hawkeyes had 197 yards of total offense compared to Nevada’s 64 at halftime. They finished with 337 total yards and Nevada had 151.

After play resumed, Iowa scored the last 10 points on a 33-yard field goal by Stevens with 2:40 left in the third quarter and Johnson’s 55-yard run with 8:22 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2021; Detroit, MI, USA; Western Michigan Broncos running back Sean Tyler (9) returns a kickoff for a touchdown in the first half against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the 2021 Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan cruises past Nevada in Quick Lane Bowl

Kaleb Eleby threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another as Western Michigan rolled past Nevada 52-24 in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit on Monday.

Sean Tyler rushed for 146 yards on 14 carries and also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the Broncos (8-5) notched their second bowl victory in program history. Jaxson Kincaide, a Nevada transfer, had 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Western Michigan.

The Broncos’ previous bowl victory came in the 2015 Bahamas Bowl against Middle Tennessee.

Devonte Lee rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown Monday for the Wolf Pack (8-5). Nate Cox was limited to 121 passing yards and a touchdown throw.

Interim coach Vai Taua coached the Wolf Pack in place of Jay Norvell, who accepted Colorado State’s head-coaching job after the regular season ended.

Nevada’s No. 1 quarterback, Carson Strong, who threw 36 touchdown passes this season, opted to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Western Michigan led 31-10 at halftime.

Nevada scored first on Brandon Talton’s 32-yard field goal, set up by Lee’s 34-yard run. The Broncos responded on the next play as Tyler returned Julian Diaz’s kickoff 100 yards for a score.

The Broncos made it 14-3 midway through the opening quarter on Eleby’s 74-yard scoring pass to Corey Crooms, who beat the defense down the left sideline.

Parker Sampson’s 22-yard field goal in the first minute of the second quarter extended Western Michigan’s lead to 14 points.

Lee scored on a 1-yard run, a touchdown set up by his 20-yard run, with 11:15 left in the half. The Broncos answered with Eleby’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Brett Borske.

Kincaide scored on a 7-yard run with 2:01 left in the half.

Tyler’s 70-yard run set up Eleby’s 1-yard touchdown plunge early in the second half. Nevada’s Toa Taua scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter. Kincaide scored on a 7-yard run with 8:57 remaining to put Western Michigan ahead 45-17.

Cox hooked up with Jamaal Bell on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 5:05 left to complete Nevada’s scoring.

–Field Level Media

Nevada quarterback Nate Cox (16) sees some action against Air Force at Mackay Stadium in Reno on Nov. 19, 2021.

Ren Nate Cox 01

Nevada to give WMU new look in Quick Lane Bowl

Nevada won eight games this season, but the team that will play Western Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit on Monday might be hard to recognize.

The Wolf Pack’s head coach, Jay Norvell, accepted the head coaching job at Colorado State. Oregon assistant Ken Wilson was named the head coach but he won’t be on the sideline for the bowl game. Interim head coach Vai Taua will run the team.

Furthermore, record-breaking quarterback Carson Strong, who set a Nevada single season mark with 36 touchdown passes, opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft.

“It was a really tough decision,” Strong told “I really wanted to play in the bowl game. But with all the craziness that’s been going on, it’s the best decision for me not to play in the bowl game.

“Unfortunately, my last game at Nevada has been played, and that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow,” he added. “As much as I’d like to go out there and win a bowl game with my teammates, it’s just not in the best interest for me, so I’m going to be declaring for the NFL Draft.”

Senior Nate Cox, who threw 20 passes this season, will likely get the nod in his place. The team’s second-leading receiver, tight end Cole Turner (62 receptions, 10 TDs) is also skipping the bowl game to preserve his draft status. Six of the Wolf Pack’s top seven receivers from this season won’t play in the game after leaving the program.

Nevada (8-4) finished fifth in the Mountain West Conference and defeated Colorado State 52-10 in its last game.

“We don’t want our hard work to go to waste,” linebacker Lawson Hall said. “We kind of internalized our motivation. We’re playing for each other, playing for the coaches that are still here and playing for the program in general. We want to show our hard work, and we can’t wait to do that.”

The Wolf Pack have won three of their last four bowl games, including a 38-27 win over Tulane in the Idaho Bowl last season.

The Broncos (7-5) have plenty of offensive punch, led by quarterback Kaleb Eleby, who has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,115 yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. Top target Skyy Moore had 91 catches for 1,256 yards and 10 touchdowns.

They also have a 1-2 punch at running back in Sean Tyler (1,004 yards, 9 TDs) and Michigan State transfer La’Darius Jefferson (836 yards, 10 TDs).

Western Michigan defeated Atlantic Coast Conference champion Pittsburgh 44-41 in September.

The upheaval in Nevada’s program has made bowl preparations a little more difficult for the Broncos.

“It forces you to the point where you just have to be ready to play because we really don’t know a ton about what we’re going to get,” coach Tim Lester said. “Are they still going to run the Air Raid? Are they going to run the ball a little bit more? Their defensive coordinator is at Washington State, so are they going to put some unique stuff in? We’re not going to chase ghosts.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Carson, California, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12) throws against the San Diego State Aztecs during the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada QB Carson Strong declares for 2022 NFL Draft

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong is skipping the Quick Lane Bowl to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft.

The two-time Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year is projected to be a first-round pick with several quarterback-needy teams in the top half of the current draft order.

“It is my hope over the next few months that there’s at least one NFL team that believes in me the same way that Coach [Jay] Norvell, Coach [Matt] Mumme, and the entire Nevada coaching staff did back in 2018,” Strong posted Tuesday night on Twitter, in part.

Strong, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior, is rated as the No. 6 quarterback in the 2022 draft class by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

He completed 70.0 percent of his passes for 4,186 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 12 games this season for the Wolf Pack (8-4), who will conclude their campaign on Dec. 27 in Detroit against Western Michigan (7-5).

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell before the game against the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubrick Field at Canvas Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado State names Nevada’s Jay Norvell head football coach

Colorado State named Jay Norvell as its head football coach on Monday.

He’ll replace Steve Addazio, who was fired Thursday after two seasons.

Norvell spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Nevada, which he led to four bowl games during that span.

“From the outset, the interest in our coaching position was significant, but one name and resume stood above the rest from the very beginning — Jay Norvell,” athletic director Joe Parker said in a news release. “When you combine his wealth of coaching experience as an assistant at programs like Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as five years as a successful head coach in the Mountain West, the choice was clear.”

Norvell, 58, played defensive back at Iowa (1983-86), then launched his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Hawkeyes. His career path also took him to the Indianapolis Colts, the Oakland Raiders, UCLA and Arizona State before he landed his first job as a head coach with Nevada in 2017.

“I am humbled, thankful, but most importantly excited to begin this process of building Colorado State into the championship contender we all know it can be,” Norvell said. “My family and I are ecstatic and cannot wait to get to Fort Collins to get started.”

Norvell leaves Nevada with a 33-26 record — 30-17 in the past four seasons.

Addazio, 62, compiled a record of 4-12 in Fort Collins. The Rams played just four games in the COVID-19-affected 2020 season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Carson, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs tight end Daniel Bellinger (88) runs the ball against Nevada Wolf Pack defensive back JoJuan Clairborne (8) during the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Late field goal lifts No. 22 San Diego State over Nevada

Matt Araiza kicked a 35-yard field goal with 1:21 left Saturday night to lift No. 22 San Diego State to a 23-21 win over Nevada in Carson, Calif.

The result allowed the Aztecs (9-1, 5-1 Mountain West) to take sole possession of first place in the conference’s West Division. They will play for the conference title if they can win their final two games, at UNLV and against Boise State.

San Diego State drove 53 yards in 12 plays to set up Araiza’s third field goal of the night. The key plays were Lucas Johnson passes of 19 yards to Elijah Kothe and 17 yards to TJ Sullivan that made Araiza’s kick a relative chip shot.

The Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2) had a final drive to win it, but Carson Strong’s fourth-and-2 throw for Melquan Stovall from their 49 was broken up by Patrick McMorris at the Aztecs’ 40 with 42 seconds left.

Strong completed 34 of 48 passes for 350 yards and all three Nevada touchdowns, including a 54-yard catch-and-run to Romeo Doubs with 9:57 remaining in the game to give the Wolfpack a one-point edge.

Johnson hit on 21 of 34 passes for 176 yards with a touchdown, while Greg Bell rushed 16 times for 104 yards for San Diego State. It outrushed Nevada 186-8.

San Diego State initiated scoring with 3:42 left in the first quarter when Johnson flipped a 2-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Bellinger, capping a 12-play, 99-yard drive that ate more than 5 1/2 minutes off the clock.

Nevada wasted little time tying the score. Strong got his arm cranking on an 85-yard march that ended on the first play of the second quarter when he connected with Tory Horton on a 28-yard scoring strike.

The Aztecs grinded out another drive that lasted more than five minutes, regaining a 10-7 edge when Araiza converted a 48-yard field goal at the 9:35 mark. Araiza had a chance to put them ahead by six points on the half’s final play, but he came up short on a 55-yard attempt.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs kicker Matt Araiza (2) gestures after a made field goal during the second quarter against the San Jose State Spartans at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada aiming for fourth straight win over No. 22 San Diego State

If No. 22 San Diego State wins the Mountain West Conference football championship, the argument can be made that the league’s Most Valuable Player is a punter/kicker.

But Matt Araiza isn’t just any kicker, as he’s made abundantly clear while making the difference in multiple wins this year. Araiza and the Aztecs try to take control of the MWC’s West Division on Saturday night when they host Nevada in Carson, Calif.

Araiza’s footprints were literally all over last week’s 17-10 win at Hawaii. He averaged 49.6 yards on five punts, including a 79-yarder that soared over not one but two return men, and downed two punts inside the 20.

For good measure, he tacked on a 39-yard field goal with 7:41 left in the game that gave San Diego State (8-1, 4-1 MWC) a two-score lead, and boomed one kickoff so far that it struck an upright. That meant it traveled 75 yards in the air.

Little wonder that the Aztecs enjoyed an 8-yard advantage in average starting field position, no small thing when one considers how ordinary their offense has been most of the year.

“Matt again hit a punt 79 yards,” said San Diego State coach Brady Hoke. “I thought our special teams was pretty good.”

Operative word being “again.” Araiza has drilled 15 punts at least 60 yards this year and is averaging 51.9 yards per boot, nearly a yard more than the NCAA single-season record set by Texas A&M’s Braden Mann in 2018.

Araiza’s thunderous left leg is a prime reason why the Aztecs’ defense has been so stout. Opponents are frequently forced to play long fields against a good unit and simply can’t go 80 yards or more with consistency. San Diego State ranks in the top 10 nationally in several different categories, including sixth in rushing defense at 91.2 yards per game.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack (7-2, 4-1) are aiming for their fourth straight win over the Aztecs, one that would all but clinch a spot in the MWC title game. They are coming off a 27-24 win last week over San Jose State, courtesy of Brandon Talton’s 45-yard field goal with three seconds remaining.

Nevada owns the conference’s top scoring offense at 36.4 points per game, but its defense may have made the difference last week. The Wolfpack got touchdowns from linebacker Daiyan Henley and defensive back Berdale Robins, marking the second straight game that the defense has scored twice.

“The offense was struggling in the first half and the defense just said, ‘We got you, we got you and we’re going to be fine,’” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said to the Reno Gazette Journal. “I don’t know that our team would have done that last year. This showed a lot of character, a lot of class.”

The Wolfpack have forced 18 turnovers, 10th most in FBS. But their identity remains one of a passing team, thanks to quarterback Carson Strong. He’s fourth in the country with 3,197 passing yards and is ranked 10th nationally in completion percentage at 70.5.

Despite Nevada’s recent success in head-to-head matchups, the Aztecs lead the all-time series 7-6.

–Field Level Media