Dec 22, 2020; Boise, Idaho, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack wide receiver Justin Lockhart (17) catches a touchdown 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

Strong’s 5 TDs tosses lead Nevada over Tulane in Potato Bowl

Carson Strong threw five touchdown passes and Nevada compiled eight sacks and three interceptions in a 38-27 win over Tulane on Tuesday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Boise, Idaho.

Strong, the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, completed 22 of 28 passes for 271 yards with no interceptions.

The Wolf Pack were led on the ground by Devonte Lee, who gained 105 yards on 18 carries. Toa Taua produced 102 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Taua also caught six passes for 77 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown.

Nevada (7-2) finished with 209 rushing yards.

The Wolf Pack achieved their seventh bowl win in program history, including three in their past four attempts.

Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt, who entered the game with only five interceptions on the year, was picked off three times, leading to two Nevada touchdowns. Pratt completed 12 of 25 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Tulane (6-6) was unsuccessful in its attempt to achieve three bowl victories in the past three seasons.

Trevor Price, Lawson Hall and Tristan Nichols each had two sacks for Nevada.

Nevada led 26-7 at halftime with a time-of-possession edge of 20:16 to 9:44 after tallying 334 yards in total offense with 14 first downs.

Tulane had the first possession of the second half and drove 75 yards for a touchdown to pull within 13 points. The 12-play drive, which culminated on a 6-yard touchdown by Pratt, took 4:57.

At the end of Nevada’s ensuing possession, Tulane’s Jha’Quan Jackson returned a punt 27 yards to the Wolf Pack’s 45. Four plays later, Pratt connected with Jackson for 28 yards with 6:30 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 26-20.

Senior E.J. Muhammad recorded his first career interception, Pratt’s third of the game, to end the Green Wave’s next possession. Muhammad returned the ball 32 yards to the Green Wave 20.

Strong then completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Cole Turner, and the Wolf Pack led 32-20 with 13:22 left in the fourth quarter after the two-point conversion pass failed.

The lead grew to 38-20 on Strong’s 21-yard pass to Jamaal Bell with 4:19 left.

Nevada’s halftime lead was built behind three touchdown passes by Strong and 76 rushing yards by Taua, who scored on a run and also a pass from Strong.

–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