Synopsis: This is a homecoming for Mustangs’ coach June Jones, who left Hawaii after a successful run as head coach for SMU. After finishing 1-11 in 2008, Jones resurrected the Mustangs in his second season with the team, finishing 7-5 in the regular season. SMU boasts a 1,000-yard receiver and rusher, plus two 1,000-yard passers.
Nevada has a few guys top quadruple-digits as well. The Wolfpack became the first team to have three players rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. Colin Kaepernick, Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott all reached the milestone in 2009 in the Nevada backfield. The Wolfpack began the year with three straight losses before ripping off eight straight wins, then falling in the season finale to Boise State.
Player to watch: Kaepernick, a junior, is an offensive weapon few people know much about. As quarterback in coach Bill Ault’s pistol offense, his dual-threat abilities are utilized perfectly, and he is an entertaining player to watch. His tall frame and strong arm will earn him at least a look by some NFL teams after he graduates.
Who has the edge? Nevada has played a much more difficult schedule, and is used to playing in big games. SMU is ecstatic simply to have made it this far; beating Nevada would simply be a bonus. Expect the Mustangs to play very loose in this game. In the end, Nevada’s rushing attack will be too much for SMU to contain.
Nevada 41, SMU 28