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

Sep 4, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12) on the sidelines awaiting his turn to take the field against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

K-State defense preparing for Nevada star QB Carson Strong

Two teams with identical 2-0 records will square off Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan., but they’ll be coming into the game with different mindsets.

Nevada is riding high after defeating California out of the Pac-12 on the road, then dominating Idaho State in its home opener. Kansas State, meanwhile, has defeated Stanford on a neutral field before surviving FCS opponent Southern Illinois.

Wildcats sixth-year senior quarterback Skylar Thompson left the game in the first quarter after suffering a non-contact knee injury. Thompson missed most of the 2020 campaign after suffering a separated shoulder in the third game of the season against Texas Tech.

“It’s tough,” head coach Chris Klieman said during the Big 12 football coaches teleconference Monday. “What he went through last year, when he went down, we all gasped, like, ‘Oh no, not again.’”

Klieman was encouraged that the injury may not be season-ending based on an MRI, the results of which he would not share. But his staff must now prepare sophomore Will Howard to step into the starting role. Howard stepped in as a true freshman during the Texas Tech game last year and struggled. Klieman is confident that he will respond.

“He learned so much last year,” Klieman said. “He wasn’t probably as ready as he wanted to be. But he had a full offseason. I know that he’s excited about the opportunity.”

Kansas State already relied on a solid running game and a stout defense, so those areas will have to come through again. Their running game is led by Deuce Vaughn, who has 244 yards and four touchdowns through two games. The Wildcats held the high-powered SIU offense to 276 yards.

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the 22-17 victory over California. Strong threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns, completing 34 of 43 passes, against Idaho State.

“We like smart, accurate, passionate quarterbacks, and Carson has those qualities,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. “We’ve got quality receivers and really good backs. And we’ve got a veteran offensive line.”

Norvell knows that K-State will present a challenge, even without Thompson.

“It’s always tough,” he said. “You hate to see injuries. It’s hard for any team to lose its starter. But I don’t think it’s going to change what they do offensively. They’ll continue to stress the things they like to do, and we’re going to have to prepare for them.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (10) is tackled by Nevada Wolf Pack cornerback Isaiah Essissima (2) and defensive back JoJuan Claiborne (8) during the second quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada rallies for 22-17 win over Cal

Carson Strong passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns, and the visiting Nevada Wolf Pack surprised the California Golden Bears 22-17 in the non-conference opener for both teams.

The Wolf Pack held California to three points over the final three quarters.

Strong, the reigning Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, connected with Romeo Doubs on a 43-yard touchdown in the second quarter and with Elijah Cooks from 16 yards out for the go-ahead score in the third period.

Nevada beat Cal for the third time in four all-time meetings.

Brandon Talton added 44-, 35- and 49-yard field goals for the Wolf Pack, who trailed 14-0 after Cal’s first two possessions before tightening the defensive screws on the Pacific-12 Conference team.

Seeking its first win over Nevada since 1996, Cal used a powerful running game to dominate the first period and build a 14-0 lead.

The Golden Bears scored at the end of 63- and 72-yard drives. Damien Moore plunged in from 1 yard out to open the scoring in the game’s 10th minute before Chase Garbers connected with Nikko Remigio for a 2-yard touchdown with three seconds left in the period.

But Cal’s only scoring after that came on a 24-yard field goal by Dario Longhetto with 12:59 remaining in the game, setting the stage for Nevada’s comeback.

The Golden Bears got possession of the ball twice after Longhetto’s field goal, but Isaiah Essissima intercepted a Garbers pass with 4:29 to go and Cal failed to get a first down after taking over one final time at its own 20 with 1:55 to go.

Strong finished 22-for-39 with one interception. Tory Horton was the club’s big receiver, gaining 94 yards on his three catches.

Garbers went 25-for-38 for 177 yards with one interception for Cal, which got away from a successful running game after one quarter, finishing with 11 more pass attempts (38) than runs (27).

Moore led all rushers in the game with 79 yards on 15 carries.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2020; Boise, Idaho, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12) throws a pass  during the first half of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl versus the Tulane Green Wave  at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman hopeful Carson Strong leads Nevada against Cal

The Carson Strong Heisman Watch kicks off Saturday night when Nevada visits California in a nonconference season opener at Berkeley, Calif.

Strong, the reigning Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, enters his junior year riding the hype of having already been named to several publications’ Maxwell Award watch lists.

He threw for 2,858 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, his first year as the Wolf Pack’s full-time starter, putting himself on the 2021 Heisman map with a 271-yard, five-touchdown finale against Tulane in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.

Strong, who missed his senior season at Will C. Wood High in Vacaville, Calif., because of a knee injury, prompting local schools like Cal to focus their recruiting elsewhere, is focused on team goals rather than individual glory.

“Winning is the only thing that matters,” said Strong, his team coming off a 7-2 season. “At the end of the day, you have to go out there and win. That’s the only thing I’m worried about. I just want to go out there and win a championship for Nevada and play in a New Year’s Six bowl.”

He could be facing one of his toughest assignments of the season right off the bat against a Cal defense that figures to be tough against the pass.

The Golden Bears are strong both on the defensive perimeter with outside linebackers Cameron Goode and Kuony Deng and in the secondary with safety Elijah Hicks and cornerback Josh Drayden.

Cal allowed just 197.8 passing yards per game during its abbreviated 1-3 campaign last year, limiting Stanford’s Davis Mills and Oregon’s Tyler Shough to one touchdown apiece in the last two games.

Cal will counter Strong with an awards candidate of its own. Senior Chase Garbers is a veteran of 23 college starts, during which the Golden Bears have gone 14-9. The 14 wins as a starter are tops among all returning Pac-12 quarterbacks.

The 225-pounder also is a capable runner as well as a passer, having accumulated 718 rushing yards in his career, just 213 shy of Joe Kapp’s all-time school record among quarterbacks.

Cal offers good depth in its running game, with Christopher Brooks, who ran for 914 yards in 2019, and Damien Moore, who rolled up 121 yards against Stanford last season, splitting opportunities.

Bears coach Justin Wilcox offered no apologies for winding up with Garbers rather than Strong as his starting quarterback.

“Things happen in recruiting,” he said. “(Strong) has had a heck of a career. We know he’s going to be a great challenge for our defense.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 4, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA;  A general view of Caesar's Palace statue with Las Vegas Raiders jersey and face mask at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada sets monthly record for earnings on sports betting

Among the ways people seem to be entertaining themselves during the pandemic has been losing money betting on sports, primarily NFL football.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Tuesday that the state had its most profitable sports betting month ever in November, when the state won $61.8 million, primarily on gamblers betting on the NFL.

CBS Sports reports that the $609.6 million wagered in November is not a record-breaking figure (down from $659.9 million wagered in October), but that the winning percentage of the state’s sportsbooks was 10.1 percent, which is significantly higher than the usual 5-6 percent.

Nevada is second only to New Jersey in terms of total money handled on sports gambling. New Jersey reported $931.6 million in sports bets in November, CBS Sports reported.

During the month of November in Nevada, bettors wagered $502 million on football, which was an all-time record, at least in part owing to November having five Sundays this year, and few other sports were in season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2020; Boise, Idaho, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12) throws a pass during the first half of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against the Ohio Bobcats  at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada takes another slice at Potato Bowl, Tulane

Nevada is back in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but the Wolf Pack’s opponent offers something unfamiliar.

Tulane and Nevada meet for just the second time in 28 years when they face off Tuesday in Boise, Idaho.

No fans will be in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The only meeting between the schools was in 1992 at the Superdome in New Orleans with Tulane winning 34-17.

Nevada (6-2) fell to San Jose State 30-20 on Dec. 11 with the chance to play in the Mountain West championship game on the line. The Wolf Pack started the year 5-0 before losing two of their last three games.

The Wolf Pack lost to Ohio in last year’s Potato Bowl. Nevada is 0-3 in the game all-time including losses to Miami (2006) and Maryland (2008).

Tulane (6-5) finished 3-5 in the American Athletic Conference but won four of its last five games in the regular season. The Green Wave feature a strong running game (217.7 yards per game) and an offense that averages 35 points per game.

“I am so proud of everyone in our program that have dedicated themselves all season to allow our team the opportunity to compete in a bowl game,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “Everyone from the players to the coaches to the staff have played a key role in getting our team to this point.”

Nevada features quarterback Carson Strong, a sophomore who was selected the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year.

He completed 227 of 327 passes for 2,587 yards, 22 touchdowns with only four interceptions during a regular season shortened by the pandemic. He led the Mountain West in completions, completion percentage, TDs, passing yards and points responsible for. He was second in yards per game, passing efficiency and total offense.

“I just think he’s got a unique work ethic,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. “And we’ve really poured a lot of preparation and development into that kid, and he’s accepted it. One of the things you have to have to be a good quarterback in our system is you have to have a real appetite to want to learn. Carson has that.”

Joining Strong on the All-Mountain West first team were wide receiver Romeo Doubs, tight end Cole Turner and placekicker Brandon Talton.

Tulane’s efficient running game was bolstered by a pair of All-AAC second-team offensive linemen in guard Corey Dublin and tackle Sincere Haynesworth.

–Field Level Media

How States Are Spending Their Sports Betting Tax Revenue

As states across the country are discussing legal sports betting, there has been much ado about sportsbooks operating on thin margins, which is news to a lot of lawmakers. By most accounts, a sportsbook earns between $1-$2 in net revenue from every $100 bet after all the money is divvied up. So where does the money go?

Much of it goes back to the winning bettors and there are the obvious expenses — paying employees, buying software and equipment, purchasing or renting space. And then there are taxes. The seven states that have legalized sports betting so far* apply wildly different tax rates on gross sports wagering revenue, from 6.75 percent in Nevada to more than 50 percent in Rhode Island.

In states currently seeking to become a legal sports betting states, some lawmakers are looking to earmark tax revenue for specific programs. In Kentucky, legislators hope it will help alleviate the state’s (humongous) pension-fund issue and in Illinois lawmakers are hoping sports betting revenue will put a dent in the state’s budget shortfall, which is $1.2 billion for fiscal year 2019. Others like Washington D.C. are eyeing Arts and Humanities, and early childhood education programs.

Scientific Games Acquires Don Best Sports

 

The parade of change continues in the nation’s nascent sports wagering industry with today’s announcement that Scientific Games Corporation is acquiring Las Vegas-based Don Best Sports Corporation and DBS Canada Corporation for an undisclosed purchase price.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

The purchase became public knowledge early Tuesday and a key Don Best executive confirmed the sale to Sports Handle, saying he would provide a company statement soon, but cannot comment further right now because of “public company sensitivities.”

Scientific Games Buys Don Best Sports, Expands Company’s Sports Betting Offerings, Particularly in the U.S. 

Don Best has been a major sports wagering information provider for decades, orchestrating worldwide sports betting through its “Official International Rotation” listing games for all major U.S. sports leagues, time changes, game locations and betting numbers in a specific order or rotation.

Here’s What Happened at the House Judiciary Hearing on Sports Betting

 

A House Judiciary subcommittee hearing titled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” proceeded on Thursday under the shadow of a more high-profile hearing in the Senate.

Little new ground was covered during the one-and-a-half hour session that largely afforded the five witnesses an opportunity to reiterate their main positions underscored in the written statements submitted prior to the session.

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), began by noting “This is just the beginning of the conversation,” and concluded by opining that “for Congress to do nothing” on the matter would be the worst possible outcome. What follows is a synopsis of highlights and lowlights.

 

 

Read more Here’s What Happened at the House Judiciary Hearing on Sports Betting on SportsHandle.