Ohio vs Nevada
When: 3:30 PM ET, Friday, January 3, 2020
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL STORYLINES
- Ohio and Nevada both parlayed strong finishes into invitations to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Jan. 3 in Boise, Idaho. The Bobcats won four of their final six games, including back-to-back blowouts of Bowling Green (66-24) and Akron (52-3) to end the season and get to the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility, while Nevada won three of the final four games to earn its second straight bowl berth. Ohio, making its fifth consecutive bowl appearance and 11th in the past 14 years, and Nevada will be meeting for the first time.
- Although Boise is about a seven-hour drive from Reno and Nevada is familiar with playing on the unusual blue “Smurf Turf” at Albertsons Stadium during Mountain West play, the Wolf Pack may not own much of an advantage playing close to home. Nevada has lost 11 straight games at Albertsons Stadium dating back to 1997 (nine versus Boise State and two bowl games). Ohio, meanwhile, earned its first-ever bowl victory on the blue turf in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 24-23 over Utah State.
- Nevada will be without three defensive starters for the game – nose tackle Hausia Sekona, safety Austin Arnold and cornerback Daniel Brown – and also linebacker Gabriel Sewell for the first half of the game after they were suspended by the Mountain West for their roles in a post-game brawl in their regular-season finale with UNLV. Arnold, who started the melee when he blindsided UNLV quarterback Kenyon Oblad from behind during the Rebels’ postgame celebration, received a two-game suspension while Brown and Sekona, both seniors, received one-game bans which ended their college careers. The Wolf Pack also will be without defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and assistants David Lockwood and Mike Chamoures who were fired after the UNLV game.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Ohio -7.5
ABOUT OHIO (6-6): Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke earned first team All-MAC honors for the Bobcats after completing 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,676 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while also rushing for another 780 yards and 12 scores. Ohio averaged 216.5 rushing yards per game which ranked 22nd nationally with Rourke, freshman running back O’Shaan Allison (823 yards, six TDs) and junior running back De’Montre Tuggle (547, 10) all topping the 500-yard mark in rushing while sophomore wide receiver Isiah Cox led the receiving corps with 36 catches for 590 yards. Senior defensive back Javon Hagan garnered first team All-MAC honors for the second year in a row after finishing with a career-high 99 tackles to go with seven pass breakups.
ABOUT NEVADA (7-5): Freshman Carson Strong finished the regular season eighth in the Mountain West in passing yards, completing 206-of-325 attempts for 1,933, but threw just 10 touchdown passes compared to seven interceptions. Sophomore Toa Taua led a ground game that ranked 11th in the Mountain West (122.8 yards per game) with 759 yards on 190 carries and six touchdowns while junior wide receiver Elijah Cooks led the team in receptions with 62 for 729 yards and seven touchdowns. The loss of Brown, who was tied for second in the Mountain West with four interceptions, is a big one for the Wolf Pack as they ranked 10th in the conference in pass defense – allowing an average of 259.8 yards per game.
PREDICTION: Ohio 38, Nevada 24