In 1974, he helped achieve a number two Division II ranking (known as small college), after the school completed their one and only undefeated regular season. They would lose 49-11 to the University of Delaware in the Grantland Rice Bowl, one win from playing for the national championship.
In 1976, he completed 148 of 277 passes for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns, while leading his team to the Division II Midwest Regional quarter-final and a number seven national ranking. In his college career he completed 337 of 636 passes for 5,095 yards and 37 touchdowns.
In 1989, he was inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was inducted in the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.
He is remembered for replacing the injured White in a 1981 Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears and helping the Cowboys to a 10-9 come-back win. The next game would be the only start in his NFL career, in which he completed 7 of 18 passes for 51 yards, in a 37-13 win against the Baltimore Colts. Notably, the opposing quarterback for the Colts, David Humm, was also making his first and only NFL start, the only time in NFL history two "one and done" quarterbacks have ever faced off. Carano and Humm were the subjects of an NFL Films piece entitled "My One and Only", recounting the 1981 game. The piece noted that the two quarterbacks had been friends since high school (both played high school football in Nevada), and remain friends to this day.
In 1982, he was passed on the depth chart by Gary Hogeboom for the backup quarterback role behind White.
Carano served on the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority Marketing Committee, the Board of Directors for the Airport Authority of Washoe Country, and the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows. He is married to Lamise Carano and has three daughters, Kasey, Gina and Christi. Gina, is a television personality, retired mixed martial arts fighter, actress and fitness model. His father, Donald L. "Don" Carano, was a hotelier in Nevada.. He is currently the General Manager of Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno.