Nevada Wolf Pack football

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Nevada Wolf Pack football
2014 Nevada Wolf Pack football team
Nevada Wolf Pack Logo.svg
First season 1896
Athletic director Doug Knuth
Head coach Brian Polian
2nd year, 4–8–0 (.333)
Home stadium Mackay Stadium
Field Chris Ault Field
Year built 1966
Stadium capacity 30,000 (record 33,391)
Stadium surface FieldTurf (2000-present)
Natural grass (1966-99)
Location Reno, Nevada
League NCAA Division I FBS
Conference Mountain West
Division West
Past conferences
All-time record 528–454–33 (.536)
Postseason bowl record 4–9–0 (.308)
Conference titles 15
Heisman winners 0 (1, top 5 finalist)
Consensus All-Americans 1 Division I FBS (27 Division I FCS)

Navy Blue and Silver

Fight song Hail to our Sturdy Team
Mascot Alphie and Wolfie Jr.
Marching band Pride of the Sierra
Website Nevada Wolf Pack

The Nevada Wolf Pack football program represents the University of Nevada, Reno (commonly referred to as "Nevada" in athletics) in college football. The Wolf Pack competes in the Mountain West Conference at the Football Bowl Subdivision level of the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack's home field is Mackay Stadium in Reno, which opened in October 1966 with a seating capacity of 7,500. After several expansions, the stadium currently seats 30,000 but has played to crowds in excess (see Attendance Records at Mackay Stadium). The playing field sits at an elevation of 4610 feet (1405 m) above sea level. Originally natural grass, it was replaced with FieldTurf in 2000, and permanent lighting was added in 2003.[1]

The single-season attendance record was set in 1991 with a total of 180,457 fans over nine home games, including playoffs; and the regular-season attendance record was set at 151,081 fans in 1993.[2][3] The 1993 and 2013 seasons are the only football seasons to have at least 20,000 fans in attendance at every home game, although multiple seasons are close.[2][3][4] In addition, 2013 holds the single-season attendance record for a Wolf Pack team with a losing record (at 149,635 fans).[4]


I-AA history[edit]

The Wolf Pack competed in Division I-AA since the formation of that division in 1978, moving up from Division II. Before joining the Big Sky Conference in 1979, Nevada competed in the Far West Conference, and as a Division II independent in football.[5]

Nevada competed in the Division I-AA playoffs in its first two seasons, when just four teams were selected. They returned to the national semi-finals in 1983 and 1985, when the playoffs included 12 teams, and 1986 with a 16 team field. The Wolf Pack reached the national championship game in 1990, and the quarterfinals in 1991.[6]

In its 14 years in Division I-AA, Nevada made the playoffs seven times, and went undefeated during the regular season three times (1978, 1986, 1991), compiling an overall record of 122-47-1 (.720). Nevada would record a record of 9-7 in the Division I-AA playoffs during their time in the Big Sky Conference. In 13 years of Big Sky membership, the Wolf Pack won four conference titles (1983, 1986, 1990, 1991).

Nevada I-AA (FCS) Playoff history[edit]

Nevada has been in 16 I-AA (FCS) playoff games, with a record of 9-7.

Year Playoff round Opponent Result
1978 Semifinal Massachusetts L 21-44
1979 Semifinal at Eastern Kentucky L 30-33 (2OT)
1983 1st Round at Idaho State W 27-20
Quarterfinal North Texas W 20-17 (2OT)
Semifinal at Southern Illinois L 7-23
1985 1st Round Arkansas State W 24-23
Quarterfinal at Furman L 12-35
1986 1st Round Idaho W 27-7
Quarterfinal Tennessee State W 33-6
Semi-Final Georgia Southern L 38-48
1990 1st Round Louisiana- Monroe W 27-14
Quarterfinal Furman W 42-35 (3OT)
Semifinal Boise State W 59-52 (3OT)
Championship at Georgia Southern L 13-36
1991 1st Round McNeese State W 22-16
Quarterfinal Youngstown State L 28-30

Move to I-A and 1-A/FBS History[edit]

Nevada moved up to Division I-A in 1992 when it joined the Big West Conference. The change from Division I-AA to Division I-A brought a lot of excitement to Wolf Pack fans. In 1991, Nevada's final season in Division I-AA, the Wolf Pack recorded what still stands as one of the biggest comebacks in Division I NCAA football history when they defeated Weber State 55-49, after trailing by 35 points in the second half. Backup quarterback Chris Vargas led a second half Nevada comeback of 41 unanswered points to win the game. After the game, Vargas was given the nickname, "The Comeback Kid," and would become one of the greatest quarterbacks to play for the Wolf Pack.

In 1992, Nevada became the first NCAA football team to win a conference championship in its first Division I-A season. Nevada won the 1992 Big West Conference title after beating Utah State in the final conference game of the season. Led by Vargas again coming off the bench, Nevada came from behind late in the 4th quarter to win, 48-47.

In 2000, Nevada left the Big West Conference and joined the Western Athletic Conference, hoping to upgrade its athletic program.

On October 14, 2007, the Wolf Pack and the Boise State Broncos would play in a historic game, setting a new NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record for total points scored with 136. Boise State won the game 69-67 in the second half of the fourth overtime period, when Broncos LB Tim Brady stopped Nevada's freshman QB Colin Kaepernick on the mandatory two-point conversion attempt.

In 2010, Nevada would only lose one game against Hawaii on its way to a 13-1 record beating ranked California and Boise State teams, along with beating BYU on the road and Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Led by Colin Kaepernick, Nevada would win a share of its first WAC title since 2005, and would ruin #4 Boise State's certain invitation to a BCS game.

On August 18, 2010, Nevada accepted an invitation to the Mountain West Conference along with Fresno State. Nevada and Fresno State are scheduled to leave the WAC and start play in the Mountain West Conference in 2012. Both programs will join Boise State who is also leaving the WAC for the Mountain West in 2011. The move to the Mountain West will place Nevada in the same conference as in-state rival UNLV for the first time since 1995.

Nevada's football program has had 40 All-Americans, and has had a total of 45 All-American selections. Nevada has also had three players or coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. They are coach Chris Ault, running back Frank Hawkins (1977-80), and former coach Buck Shaw. Fullback Marion Motley is the only Nevada player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Three-time Super Bowl champion Charles Mann played for Nevada from 1979 to 1982 and was named Most Valuable Defensive Lineman in 1982.[7] Mann was inducted into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.[8] Another Nevada alumnus with a long career in the NFL was free safety Brock Marion. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys where he played most of his career, and won two Super Bowls. Marion was selected to three Pro Bowls, and one All-Pro team.

Defensive tackle Brett Roy became Nevada's first FBS consensus 1st Team All-American after his stellar senior season in 2011. Roy recorded 64 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and 10 sacks.

Mountain West move[edit]

In 2012, Nevada left the WAC and moved to the Mountain West Conference (MWC), along with fellow WAC member Fresno State. This move was influenced by Boise State's move to the MWC, as well as the MWC's strength of schedule, which is superior to the WAC's. It will also intensify the rivalry with UNLV.

List of Bowl games[edit]

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
January 1, 1948 Salad Bowl W North Texas 13 6
January 1, 1949 Harbor Bowl L Villanova 7 27
December 18, 1992 Las Vegas Bowl L Bowling Green 34 35
December 14, 1995 Las Vegas Bowl L Toledo 37 40*
December 18, 1996 Las Vegas Bowl W Ball State 18 15
December 24, 2005 Hawaiʻi Bowl W Central Florida 49 48*
December 31, 2006 MPC Computers Bowl L Miami (FL) 20 21
December 22, 2007 New Mexico Bowl L New Mexico 0 23
December 30, 2008 Humanitarian Bowl L Maryland 35 42
December 24, 2009 Hawaiʻi Bowl L SMU 10 45
January 9, 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl W Boston College 20 13
December 24, 2011 Hawai'i Bowl L Southern Miss 17 24
December 15, 2012 New Mexico Bowl L Arizona 48 49
Total 13 bowl games 4–9 *=overtime

Notable games[edit]

Nevada-34 Boise State-31 (F/OT): November 26, 2010: Nevada came into this game ranked 19 in the country, but were facing the mighty Boise State Broncos, ranked number 4 in the nation, and were one win away from going to a BCS bowl game if not the National Championship Game. Nevada would go down early, trailing 24-7 at halftime only to mount and amazing second half comeback, tying the game at 31 with 13 seconds left in the game. After a completed Hail Mary pass by Boise State, everybody in Mackay Stadium stood in stunned amazement when Boise St. place kicker missed wide right to send the game in overtime. Then, the Boise State place kicker missed another field goal, this time wide left. Nevada would take their possession and make their field goal to win arguably the biggest game in Nevada football history.

Nevada-38 Fresno State-35: November 26, 2005: Fresno State was ranked number 16 in the nation, and just came off a narrow defeat at the hands of the eventual National Champion USC Trojans. Nevada would take and early lead that it would only relinquish for a very short time in the 3rd quarter. Back-up running back Robert Hubbard had a standout game, as Nevada would recover a late Fresno State on-sides kick attempt to seal the 38-35 victory, and Nevada's first WAC Championship. This was also Nevada's first conference championship in 8 years.

Nevada-48 Utah State-47: November 14, 1992: Nevada would beat Utah State after a late 4th quarter comeback. Nevada was losing by 23 points with just over 5 minutes left when QB Chris Vargas would lead them to a one-point, 48-47 victory. The win clinched the Big West Conference title for Nevada in their first season after joining Division 1-A. Nevada was the first program to win a conference title during their first year in the FBS (Division 1-A), after entering the subdivision from a lower subdivision.

Nevada-55 Weber State-49: November 2, 1991: Nevada recorded the largest come from behind victory in Division 1 NCAA history when it beat Weber State 55-49 in 1991. Nevada was down by 35 points at halftime when QB Fred Gatlin was replaced by Chris Vargas. Nevada would go on the score at will and only allow one touchdown by Weber State the entire second half. Nevada would go on to win the 1991 Big Sky Championship. Michigan State tied the record 35 point comeback when they beat Northwestern in 2006, and became the first school to do so in the FBS subdivision.

Nevada-59 Boise State-52 (F/3OT): December 8, 1990: Nevada and Boise State met for the second time in 1990 for the semi-final of the 1990 NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship. Nevada had lost to Boise State earlier that year in a conference game 30-14. The Wolf Pack would play 3 overtimes periods for the second playoff game in a row, and would win 59-52 after running back Ray Whalen scored a touchdown. Nevada would go on to lose to Georgia Southern in the National Championship game the following week. This is still the only postseason game ever played between these two schools.

Nevada-23 UNLV-14: September 16, 1978: Nevada had not beaten UNLV in 4 straight tries, and was a 20 point underdog with the game being played in Las Vegas in 1978. Nevada would outplay the Rebels however, and go on to win 23-14. The story that came after the game is what makes the victory remembered by Wolf Pack alumni and fans. Chris Ault convinced the airport security to let the team disassemble the Fremont Cannon so that the team could bring it back to Reno on the plane. Nevada running back Frank Hawkins carried the barrel of the cannon onto the plane. Chris Ault still tells this story during the week of the UNLV game to get his players fired up.

1923 Cal game[edit]

A game that will always be remembered in Nevada football history was the improbable 0-0 tie against California in 1923. Cal entered the game in the midst of a 50-game undefeated streak, 3 consecutive national championships, 4 consecutive conference championships, and two consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. The team was so dominant it was known as the "Wonder Team." [9] The fact that the Wolf Pack, a much smaller program from a lower division, held powerhouse Cal scoreless in Berkeley makes this final score one of the most interesting in college football history. Cal would go on to finish the season with a 9-0-1 record, and claims 1923 as one of their national championship years.

"Blue Friday"[edit]

On November 26, 2010, #19 ranked Nevada faced #3 AP (#4 BCS) ranked Boise State in Reno, a matchup hyped as the biggest sporting event in Reno for the last 100 years. Boise State had the nation's longest winning streak at 24 games, and were trying to jump Oregon in the BCS poll to have a shot at the national title with a win against Nevada. At the start of the 2nd half, Nevada was trailing 24-7 but mounted a comeback when Nevada senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick scored an 18-yard rushing touchdown in the 3rd quarter, cutting the lead to 24-14. In the 4th quarter, the Wolf Pack scored a rushing touchdown when receiver Rishard Matthews broke through the defense on a reverse to cut it to 24-21. On the next Wolf Pack possession, Nevada kicker Anthony Martinez tied the game 24-24 with a 23-yard field goal. Boise State would answer with a quick touchdown, when Kellen Moore hit Doug Martin on a screen for a 79-yard touchdown pass to go up 31-24. With 4:53 remaining in the game, Kaepernick led the Wolf Pack on a 14-play drive capping off with a touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews to tie the game at 31-31 with 13 seconds remaining. Kellen Moore then completed a Hail Mary pass downfield to the Nevada 9-yard line with 2 seconds left, but Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-Yard field goal as time expired in regulation. In overtime, Brotzman missed a 29-yard field goal during the Broncos' turn on offense during the first overtime. When Nevada got its turn on offense, Anthony Martinez kicked a 34-yard field goal to give Nevada the biggest win in the history of the program, and knocking Boise State out of BCS title and Rose Bowl contention. Nevada would go on to win a share of the 2010 WAC title 8 days later after beating Louisiana Tech 35-17.

NCAA Records[edit]

In the 2009 football season, the University of Nevada became the only team in NCAA football history to have 3 players break 1,000 yards rushing during the same season: Wolf Pack running backs Luke Lippincott and Vai Taua along with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.[10]

Longest punt - 99 yards - Pat Brady, Nevada vs. Loyola (CA) 1950

Most career receiving yards - 5,005 yards - Trevor Insley (1996–99)

Most receiving yards in a single season - 2,060 yards - Trevor Insley (1999)

Highest career average receiving yards per game - 160.8 yards - 140.9 yards - Alex Van Dyke (1994–95)

Highest single-season average receiving yards per game - 187.3 yards - Trevor Insley (1999)

Most games with 100 or more receiving yards - 26 games - Trevor Insley (1996–99)

Most games with 200 or more receiving yards - 6 games - Trevor Insley (1999)

Most consecutive games with 200 or more receiving yards - 3 games - Trevor Insley (1999)

  • tied with Howard Twilley of Tulsa (1965)

Most receiving yards in a game without scoring a touchdown - 326 yards - Nate Burleson, Nevada vs. San Jose St. (2001)

Most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback - 59 - Colin Kaepernick (2007–10)

  • tied with Eric Crouch of Nebraska (1998-01)

The second quarterback in college football to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards - Colin Kaepernick (2007–10) (Armanti Edwards (Appalachian State) was the first from 2006-2009)

First college football program to win a conference title in its first FBS season after moving up from a lower division - 1992 Big West Champions

Conference Championships[edit]

Season Conference Record Conference Record
1932 Far West 3-3-2 2-0-1
1933 Far West 4-4-0 3-0-0
1939 Far West 5-4-0 3-0-0
1983 Big Sky 9-5-0 6-1-0
1985 Big Sky 11-2-0 6-1-0
1986 Big Sky 13-1-0 7-0-0
1990 Big Sky 13-2-0 7-1-0
1991 Big Sky 12-1-0 8-0-0
1992 Big West 7-5-0 5-1-0
1994 Big West 9-2-0 5-1-0
1995 Big West 9-3-0 6-0-0
1996 Big West 9-3-0 4-1-0
1997 Big West 5-6-0 4-1-0
2005 WAC 9-3-0 7-1-0
2010 WAC 13-1-0 7-1-0

Rivalry with Boise State[edit]

Nevada has a long standing rivalry with Boise State from the Western Athletic Conference. The rivalry with Boise State does not seem to contain the same amount of bitterness as Nevada's rivalry against UNLV. However, many feel that this has become a more meaningful, and more important rivalry for the Wolf Pack since UNLV has become somewhat irrelevant in football over the past few years.

Some of the most important games in the history of both programs have been played against each other. In 1990, Nevada won the Big Sky Championship with an overall season record of 13-2. Nevada's only regular season loss was a 30-14 conference loss to the Broncos in Boise. Nevada and Boise State would both go on to the Division I-AA playoffs. The two teams met in the 1990 Division I-AA semifinals in Reno for a rematch of their earlier battle that year. With the winner going to the championship, the game took 3 overtime sessions. Nevada fullback Ray Whalen scored the decisive touchdown in the third overtime with an 8-yard run into the end zone. Nevada's defense held Boise State after the score on their turn during the alternating overtime sessions. This game was the second game in a row that Nevada needed 3 overtime periods to finish the game. (Nevada had defeated Furman the week prior in a triple overtime game.) There have been no other games postseason games played between the two teams to date. Nevada would go on to lose in the finals to Georgia Southern by a score of 36-13 in Statesboro, Georgia.

In 2006, Nevada and Boise State would meet in Reno in Boise State's final regular season game. Boise State won the game, giving the Broncos a berth into the Fiesta Bowl. This would be Boise State's first BCS bowl game, where they would go on to beat Oklahoma in dramatic fashion. In 2010, the two teams met for another meaningful game near the end of the season. Nevada beat Boise State in another dramatic overtime game, ending the Broncos' chances of playing in the Rose Bowl.

Rivalry with UNLV[edit]

Main article: Fremont Cannon

The Nevada and UNLV Football programs have a strong disdain for each other. The in-state rivalry started in 1969, and has only not been played a few years during the 1980s. Nevada currently enjoys a 23-15 lead in the series, and has won a record 8 straight games. The Fremont Cannon was introduced as the rivalry trophy in 1970 by Bill Ireland, who attended Nevada and was UNLV's first football coach.

Unlike the Rivalry with Boise State, the Fremont Cannon rivalry has lacked many games of importance. Nevada and UNLV have spent many year in different conferences. The mid-90's being the exception when both schools were in the Big West. This time period also marks where a lot of the bitterness between the two schools came from. Nevada had just moved to the Big West from Division I-AA, and had enjoyed success after winning a conference title in 1992. After his first coaching retirement, Chris Ault was replaced by Jeff Horton as the head coach in 1993. After one season Horton left for the same position at rival UNLV. Chris Ault would return to the Nevada sideline to coach Nevada in 1994 and 1995 until he could find another coach. In 1994 UNLV and Nevada would go on to become co-champions of the Big West, but UNLV won the head to head game against Nevada sending them to the post season bowl game. The next season the game was marred by pre and post game fights between both teams, and with many fights between fans in the stands. Nevada would go on to win the game and the conference title outright. Since then the rivalry has lost some of its luster, but as of 2012 Nevada and UNLV became members of the same conference once again.

The Fremont Cannon is the largest and most expensive trophy in the all of college football. Nevada has kept the Cannon for 8 straight years, 2005-2012.

Retired numbers[edit]

  • 27 - Running back Frank Hawkins played four seasons with the Wolf Pack (1977–80) and was a three-time All-American (Division I-AA) and led Division I-AA in rushing twice. Selected in the tenth round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, he played seven seasons with the Raiders and was a member of the 1984 team that won Super Bowl XVIII. His 5,333 career rushing yards at Nevada ranks fourth all-time in NCAA history. He would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
  • 41 - Marion Motley played three seasons with the Wolf Pack (1940–42) [11] and has been considered by many as "The Jackie Robinson of Football." Motley was one of four black players to break professional football's color barrier when he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 1946, and helped lead the Browns to four straight AAFC titles and the 1950 NFL title in their first year in the league. Motley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968 and was selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994.

Chris Ault[edit]

The winningest coach in school history is Chris Ault. He was the head coach for Nevada for 28 seasons and was involved with Nevada football for 40 years before stepping down as head coach after the 2012 season. He coached for 3 stints (1976–92, 1994–95, and 2004–12). His record as Nevada head coach ended at 233 wins, 109 losses, and 1 tie. Ault won 10 conference titles in the Big Sky, Big West and Western Athletic Conference. Perhaps his only negative flaw was his 2-8 bowl record. Ault is the creator of the Pistol Offense which he invented after returning to the sideline during the 2004 season. Since then, the Pistol Offense has been used by multiple teams at every level of football including the NFL. Ault also served as the Nevada Athletics Director from 1986-2004, and played quarterback for Nevada from 1965 to 1967. In 2002, Ault was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The field at Mackay Stadium was named Chris Ault Field in 2013 in appreciation for his numerous accomplishments.

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
vs UC Davis vs Cal Poly at Washington State at Washington vs Purdue at South Florida
vs Arizona at Notre Dame vs Toledo vs Oregon State at Oregon
at Texas A & M vs Buffalo at Oregon State at Toledo
at Buffalo at Purdue vs Idaho



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "2013 Football Media Guide". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "2012 Football Media Guide". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Football: Cumulative Season Statistics (2013)". University of Nevada, Reno. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ CFB Data Warehouse
  6. ^ FCS Preview
  7. ^ "Charles Mann (1980-82/ Football)". Nevada Wolf Pack Athletics Official Site. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  8. ^ "Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame". Nevada Wolf Pack Athletics Official Site. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  9. ^ California Historical Series, Stassen College Football Information, retrieved January 25, 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Nevada Wolf - Nevada to Honor Anniversary of Marion Motley's Hall of Fame Induction This Season - 2008-08-29 - accessed 2011-11-02
  12. ^ "Nevada Wolf Pack Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 

External links[edit]