It’s bowl season folks.
Nevada Football will go “bowling” for the seventeenth time in school history. It will also be the second consecutive season for the first time since the 2014-15 seasons.
The Wolf Pack will take on the Ohio Bobcats in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Jan. 3, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.
“Ohio had a great season and is a really good football team,” Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said. “We are looking forward to the challenge of playing them. I’m thrilled for our seniors to have a chance to play in one more game in their careers.”
The Wolf Pack are entering a bowl game for the fifth time since joining the Mountain West. They are looking for back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since the 2009-10 seasons. This is the first-ever meeting between Nevada and Ohio.
The Ohio Bobcats have had an up-and-down season. They shouldered lofty expectations heading into the season, as members of the media unanimously selected them preseason MAC East champions. Ohio was also predicted to win the MAC Championship.
Unable to reach those expectations, it took until the final game to its fifth consecutive bowl bid. The Bobcats finished 6-6 with a 5-3 conference record, finishing second in the MAC.
Four of its final five losses came by an average of 2.75 points—three of which came in conference play to Northern Illinois, Miami (OH) and Western Michigan.
Ohio had to win its final two games in order to clinch a bowl berth, becoming one of 79 teams to do so. They outscored Bowling Green State and Akron 118-27, gaining over 1,200 yards of combined offense in those two games.
The Bobcats averaged 34.7 points per contest, finishing second in the conference and No. 20 in the nation. They allowed opponents to tally 27.0 points per game, the most since 2013.
Ohio rushes on approximately 60 percent of its plays. Additionally, they are in the top 10 in the nation in yards per carry. Ohio also ranks No. 22 in the country in yards per game with 216.5 and T-14 in rushing scores with 33.
The backfield features three different running backs. Redshirt freshman O’Shaan Allison leads the trio with 823 rushing yards—ninth in the conference on 129 carries and six scores.
De’Montre Tuggle finished with 10 rushing touchdowns, leading the three running backs. This 5-foot-10, 198-pound thumper added 547 yards on 91 carries in his first season of eligibility with the Bobcats. Redshirt sophomore Julian Ross has also totaled 227 yards on 59 carries.
Nathan Rourke is the leader behind center. The 6-foot-1 senior was awarded All-MAC postseason honors for his third consecutive season, finishing on the All-MAC first team this year. He was efficient, completing a career-high 61.4 percent of his passes. He threw for 2,676 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Rourke is also a threat to run the ball. He finished second on the team and No. 10 in the conference in rushing with 780 total rushing yards, the 210-pounder finished with 12 rushing touchdowns on 5.4 yards per carry. His 2,510 career rushing yards ranks tenth in program history. He is also two rushing touchdowns away from breaking the school record set by Kareem Wilson.
Kevin McDonald, Executive Director of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is excited for the Nevada versus Ohio match-up.
“We are thrilled to welcome back two teams who have an exciting history in our bowl game,” McDonald said. “Any time you can host a first-time meeting between two programs it adds a unique element to the game, especially two teams with such rich postseason traditions.”
With less than a month away, Wolf Pack fans won’t have much longer to wait.
Matt Hanifan can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.