Nevada Wolf Pack football

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Nevada Wolf Pack football
2017 Nevada Wolf Pack football team
Nevada Wolf Pack wordmark.svg
First season 1896
Athletic director Doug Knuth
Head coach Jay Norvell
1st season, 2–9 (.182)
Other staff Matt Mumme (OC)
Jeff Casteel (DC)
Stadium Mackay Stadium
(Capacity: 26,000 (record 33,391))
Field Chris Ault Field
Year built October 1, 1966
Field surface Natural grass (1966–1999)
FieldTurf (2000–present)
Location Reno, Nevada
NCAA division Division I FBS
Conference Mountain West
Division West
Past conferences NCAA Independent (1896–1924)
Far West (1925–1939)
NCAA Independent (1940–1953)
Far West (1954–1968)
NCAA Independent (1969–1972)
Division II Independent (1973–1977)
Division I-AA Independent (1978)
Big Sky (1979–1991)
Big West (1992–1999)
WAC (2000–2011)
All-time record 542–483–33 (.528)
Bowl record 5–10 (.333)
Conference titles 14
Rivalries Boise State Broncos
UNLV Rebels
Consensus All-Americans 1 (multiple All-American selections)
Colors Navy Blue and Silver[1]
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 Division I.

The Wolf Pack's home field is Mackay Stadium, located at the north end of its campus in Reno, having been moved from it original location which opened in 1909, the "new" Mackay Stadium saw its first game 51 years ago on October 1, 1966 with a seating capacity of 7,500 and has undergone several renovations. The stadium currently seats 30,000 and has played to crowds in excess (see attendance records), but decreased its capacity to 26,000 by the 2016 season to increase the quality of the experience in the stadium,[2] the elevation of its playing field is 4,610 feet (1,410 m) above sea level.

Nevada has had three individuals inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, they are coach Chris Ault, running back Frank Hawkins (197780) 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.[3] Mann was inducted into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.[4] 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.

Nevada has not fielded a Heisman Trophy winner; however, Stan Heath was fifth in Heisman voting in 1948 and Colin Kaepernick (QB) was eighth among 2010 candidates. Nevada football's rich tradition has produced 40 All-Americans and 45 All-American selections. Nevada's only consensus All-American was Matt Clafton (LB) in 1991, which was Nevada's last year in the Division I-AA; the Wolf Pack is awaiting its first FBS consensus All-American. The Wolf Pack has also produced two Academic All-Americans: David Heppe (P, 1982) and Erick Streelman (TE, 2002)[5]


Early history (1896–1958)[edit]

Allen Steckle served as head coach from 1901 to 1903.

Nevada's football history began on October 24, 1896. However, there was no football program from 1906–14 (only rugby), in 1918 (due to World War I) and in 1951.[6]

In 1896, the university, at that time the only institution of higher learning in the state of Nevada and called by the moniker Nevada State University, investigated the possibility of adding football to their short list of athletic programs and hired Taylor from the University of California, Berkeley for the purpose of developing and fielding the U's first gridiron squadron. They played only two games that year, the first of which was scheduled against the Belmont preparatory school to take place on "the hill" at the original Mackay Stadium, located in the depression at the middle of campus where the Mack Social Sciences, Reynolds School of Journalism, and the auspicious Lecture Hall currently exist, the result was a complete debacle as Belmont relentlessly thrashed the hapless Sagebrushers (lat. Wolf Pack) by the tally of 70–0. "But," the University of Nevada yearbook Artemesia would report five years later, "the team learned something about football by watching the Belmont boys play." Two weeks later and the 'Brushers met up with the Berkeley "Second Eleven" with much more favorable results (with NSU only giving up forty points. "Thus the initial chapter of the athletic history of the University was one of defeat," sayeth the 1901 Artemesia.

From 1901 to 1903, Allen Steckle served as the head football coach at the University of Nevada; in 1903, he was also appointed to the position as the university's Physical Director.[7] In his three seasons as the head coach, he compiled a 6–9–2 record. When Steckle's Nevada Sagebrush team defeated the University of California in 1903, it was the cause of a statewide celebration, the entire front page of the Daily Nevada State Journal was given to coverage of the game, and the banner headline read: "CALIFORNIA'S PROUD COLORS LOWERED BY THE DOUGHTY ELEVEN FROM SAGEBRUSHDOM."[8] Steckle's picture appeared on the front page, and the paper praised his efforts in turning Nevada into a football power:

"Out of the eighty students of the N.S.U. have been selected eleven young men who were moulded into shape by Dr. Steckle, the best football coach who ever came to the Coast, he made of them the peers of the flower of the California universities."[8]

The victory of a university with only 80 students over the University of California with its 3,000 students was hailed as a historic accomplishment, and "Coach Steckle's brand of 'roughhouse'" play was given much of the credit.[8]

Steckle's star players at Nevada from 1901 to 1903 were his younger brother Ivan X. Steckle, who played halfback, and Abe Steckle, who played tackle. Ivan Steckle was reportedly "the hero of all Nevada during the football season of 1903, when in a game with the University of California on the U.C. field, he grabbed the football close to the Nevada goal line and made a wonderful 86-yard run to the California goal line, scoring a touchdown for the Sagebrush players and bringing victory to the team."[9] Ivan left Nevada after the 1903 season to follow his older brother to the University of Michigan Medical School. Ivan died from typhoid fever in 1909, and Steckle accompanied his brother's body to the family's old home in Freeport, Michigan.[9]

In 1919, a Nevada newspaper rated Steckle as the best football coach Nevada ever had and described his accomplishments as follows:

"It was under the coaching of Dr. Steckle that Nevada was able to defeat the University of California and play a tie with Stanford as well as bang it over the crack athletic club teams that San Francisco boasted when the great college game was in its hey dey, he was rated at that time as one of the best coaches in the West."[10]

Steckle was also remembered at Nevada for his ability to instill "college spirit" in the school's student body; in 1919, a Nevada newspaper noted that "there was more enthusiasm displayed in college athletics while he was coach than there has been in all the years since he left."[10] As a medical doctor and athletic coach, Steckle was also known for his belief in physical conditioning, he was known to require every athlete to be in perfect physical condition before playing in any intercollegiate or "big" game.[10] After his success with the 1903 Nevada team, Steckle was offered a higher salary to take over as the football coach at Oregon State.[11]

In April 1919, Ray Courtright was hired to serve as director of athletics and head coach of the football, basketball, baseball and track teams.[12][13] Courtright was Nevada's football coach for five years from 1919 to 1923, during his years at Nevada, Courtright was "affectionately known as 'Corky'."[14] In his first year as Nevada's coach, Courtright led the team to an 8–1–1 record, doubling the highest season win total of any prior Nevada football team, the only loss came in the first game of the season, a 13–7 loss to the California freshman team. Courtright's 1919 Nevada team outscored its opponents 450 to 32, including scores of 132–0 over Pacific, 102–0 over the Mare Island Marines, and 56–0 over UC Davis.[15] At the time, Courtright called the 1919 Nevada team "the best team I ever had," and others called it the "best team that ever played on Mackay Field."[16] At the end of the 1919 season, the Reno Evening Gazette wrote:

"It was a good move when the students and regents decided last spring to go east and get one of the best men to come to Nevada and build up a football team. In selecting a coach they also demanded an all-round man, who could coach basket ball, track, baseball and put into operation a regular system of physical culture for all the students as well. Coach Courtright fitted the requirements and the football season proves the wisdom of the selection ..."[13]

In 1920, Courtright's team finished with a record of 7–3–1 with wins over both the Utah Utes (14–7) and Utah State Aggies (21–0), and losses to California (79–7), USC (38–7), and Santa Clara (27–21).[17] Courtright never reached the same level of success after the 1920 season, finishing 4–3–1 in 1921, 5–3–1 in 1922 and 2–3–3 in 1923.[17] However, his most notable game at Nevada was a scoreless tie with California on November 3, 1923, the 1923 California team was known as the "Wonder Team."[14][18] It had gone through three full seasons without a loss, and had outscored its opponents 151 to 0 in the first seven games of the 1923 season. Nevada had only 15 men on its football team in 1923 and was considered to be a decided underdog. When Courtright returned to the Nevada campus in 1961, he was shown souvenirs of his time at the school. Ty Cobb, then a sports columnist, accompanied Courtright and wrote: "Courtright chuckled when he saw a huge framed layout of newspaper headlines from 1923 – when Nevada tied the great California 'Wonder Team.' 'Yep, that WAS quite a game,' he chortled."[18] Courtright compiled a record of 26–13–7 while at Nevada,[19] and his teams outscored opponents by a combined total of 993 to 464.[20] Shortly before his resignation in 1924, the Nevada State Journal credited Courtright with having "brought the Nevada eleven from the class of a second rate team to its present rank among the best of the western college football squads."[21]

Jim Aiken left Akron to take over Nevada's football program in 1939, and served as head coach for seven seasons, compiling a record of 38–26–4.[22] Aiken left Nevada after the 1946 season to accept the head coaching position at Oregon.[22]

Nevada experienced back to back nine-win seasons under Aiken's successor, Joe Sheeketski, 9–2 casmpaigns in 1947 and 1948, but the wheels came off the next two seasons as Nevada compiled records of 5–5 and 1–9, resulting in his firing.

Gordon McEachron accepted the head coaching position at Nevada in 1955 for a $7,300 salary.[23][24] The university had demoted its football program from major college football status in 1951 due to a budget deficit, and had struggled to remain competitive;[25] in 1956, the Nevada alumni association raised $4,500 for a part-time work program for football players.[26] The initiative, however, failed, and in October 1957, McEachron supported the players in their petition for a renewal of free room and board for the team during the season,[23][25] they offered to work part-time campus jobs in exchange. McEachron said, "We're not trying to go big-time again, just to compete on an equal basis."[25] McEachron offered his resignation on October 30, 1957, which reportedly "came as a complete surprise" to the athletic director. Dr. Art Broten said, "But I am totally indifferent—Mac took the job with the understanding we gave no aid to athletes."[23] McEachron remained on for one more year,[27] and resigned for good in 1959, he had compiled a 6–23–1 record at Nevada.[28]

Dick Trachok era (1959–1968)[edit]

In April 1959, Nevada hired Trachok as its head coach;[29] in November 1960, Trachok canceled a six-hour flight to Denver in favor of a 32-hour bus ride after a plane crash killed sixteen players from California Polytechnic.[30] The Nevada flight had been booked with Arctic-Pacific, the same carrier that Cal Poly had used.[30] Trachok finished his coaching tenure with a 40–48–3 record, and took over as Nevada's athletic director, he held that post until 1986.[31] In 1975, the university inducted Trachok into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame.[31]

Jerry Scattini era (1969–1975)[edit]

The University of Nevada, Reno hired Scattini as its head football coach, a position he held from 1969 to 1975, his teams compiled a 37–36–1 record.[32] Nevada fired Scattini in December 1975 after a 3–8 season and replaced him with UNLV assistant Chris Ault.[33]

Chris Ault era (1976–1992, 1994–1995 and 2004–2012)[edit]

Chris Ault

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. 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, the only problem was his 2–8 bowl record. Ault brought popularity to the Pistol Offense when he implemented it 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 to 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.

The Wolf Pack competed in Division I-AA since the formation of that division in 1978, moving up from Division II and were undefeated as in the regular season.[34] Before joining the Big Sky Conference in 1979,[35][36] Nevada competed in the Far West Conference and was an independent in football for a decade. Nevada played 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,[37] when the playoffs included 12 teams and 1986 with a 16-team field. The Wolf Pack reached the national championship game in 1990[38][39] and the quarterfinals in 1991.

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 (.721). Nevada had a record of 9–7 in the I-AA playoffs during their time in the Big Sky and in 13 years of membership, the Wolf Pack won four conference titles (1983, 1986, 1990, 1991), during most of its I-AA era, the school was known as "Nevada-Reno," "UNR" or "Reno." [36][37][40][41][42][43]

In its final season in Division I-AA in 1991, the top-ranked 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 at home.[44] Backup sophomore quarterback Chris Vargas led a second-half Nevada comeback of 41 unanswered points to win the game,[45] 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.

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. That year, 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 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 and joined the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), hoping to upgrade its athletic program.

In 2007, the Wolf Pack and the Boise State Broncos played in a historic game on October 14, 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 have left the WAC and started the play in the Mountain West Conference in 2012. Both programs have joined Boise State who also left the WAC for the Mountain West in 2011, the move to the Mountain West placed Nevada in the same conference as in-state rival UNLV for the first time since 1995.

In 2012, Nevada left the WAC and moved to the Mountain West Conference (MW), along with fellow WAC member Fresno State, as part of the 2010–13 Mountain West Conference realignment. This move was influenced by Boise State's entrance, the increased strength of schedule and the intensity of Nevada's rivalries.

Jeff Horton era (1993)[edit]

Jeff Tisdel era (1996–1999)[edit]

Jeff Tisdel was promoted from assistant coach to head coach following Ault's retirement. Tisdel's first season saw the Wolf Pack go 9–3 with a loss in the Las Vegas Bowl, but from there things went downhill; in 1997, the Wolf Pack compiled a record of 5–6, then a 6–5 mark in 1998 before a 3–9 mark in 1999.[46]

Chris Tormey era (2000–2003)[edit]

Following the 1999 season, Chris Tormey moved south to Reno to coach Nevada, which was leaving the Big West to join the WAC.[47][48] He succeeded Jeff Tisdel, a former All-American quarterback for the Wolf Pack. Tormey was the head coach for four seasons (200003) and compiled a 16–31 record (.340).[49] While his win totals improved each season (2, 3, 5, 6), he was released from the fifth and final season of his contract at the end of the 2003 season, the final game marked by a 56–3 blowout loss at #18 Boise State. Most notably, Tormey failed to defeat bitter in-state rival UNLV in the annual Battle for the Fremont Cannon; his teams were also winless against Boise State and Fresno State.[49] The Wolf Pack did defeat the Washington Huskies 28–17 in Seattle that final season (UW finished at 6–6). Nevada's athletic director Chris Ault hired himself to succeed Tormey.

Brian Polian era (2013–2016)[edit]

Brian Polian

Texas A&M special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Brian Polian was chosen to succeed Ault in 2013.[50] Under Polian, the Wolf Pack compiled a record of 23–27 that included back to back seven-win campaigns and bowl appearances.[51] Nevada and Polian agreed to part ways after the 2016 season.[52]

Jay Norvell era (2017–present)[edit]

Jay Norvell

On December 6, 2016, Arizona State wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Jay Norvell was hired as Nevada's head coach.[53]


Boise State[edit]

Nevada has a long-standing rivalry with Boise State; the teams first met on September 25, 1971. The rivalry with Boise State does not seem to contain the same amount of bitterness as Nevada's intrastate 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 went to lose in the finals to Georgia Southern by a score of 36–13 in Statesboro, Georgia.[39]

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.


The Nevada and UNLV Football programs have a strong disdain for each other, the in-state rivalry started on November 22, 1969 and had not been played from 1980 to 1982 and in 1984, 1986 and 1988 respectively. Nevada currently maintains an overall 25–17 lead in the series, 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 years 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, Nevada and UNLV 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, the current holder is Nevada, following its 45–10 victory over UNLV on November 26, 2016.

Retired numbers[edit]

  • 27 – Frank Hawkins played four seasons with the Wolf Pack (1977–80) as a running back, 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. He rushed for 5,333 yards at Nevada and also had 11 consecutive games in a season with at least 100 rushing yards per game.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)[54] 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.

Notable games[edit]

Nevada-0 California-0 on November 3, 1923: 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, 3 consecutive conference championships, and two consecutive Rose Bowl appearances in 1920, and 1921 that ended in a victory and a tie respectively, the team was so dominant it was known as the "Wonder Team".[55] 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 would claim 1923 as their 4th consecutive national championship, the tie was the only regular season game for California that did not end in a victory in the 4 year time frame.

Nevada-23 UNLV-14 on 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 would tell this story during the week of the UNLV game to get his players fired up.

Nevada-59 Boise State-52 (F/3OT) on 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-55 Weber State-49 on 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-48 Utah State-47 on 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-18 Ball State-15 on December 18, 1996: Nevada and Ball State were expected to bring offensive fireworks for the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl. What ensued however was a hard nosed defensive display from both sides, after Nevada scored a touchdown on their opening possession, offenses found it a lot tougher to get points on the board. Nevada's starting QB John Dutton was substituted for proven backup Eric Bennett to try to spark the offense. Nevada LB Mike Crawford became the game's MVP with 14 tackles, a forced fumble, and a game sealing interception late in the 4th quarter, with the play of Crawford, plus the energy Bennett was able to give the offense off the bench in the second half, Nevada was able to win their first bowl game in 48 years.

Nevada-38 Fresno State-35 on 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. Nevada QB Jeff Rowe passed for a touchdown, and ran for another while passing for 189 yards. Back-up running back Robert Hubbard would have a standout game as he rushed for 146 yards on 16 carries, with 3 rushing touchdowns, and a 16-yard catch. 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-34 Boise State-31 (F/OT) on November 26, 2010 "Blue Friday": #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 second 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 margin to 24–14. In the fourth quarter, the Wolf Pack scored a rushing touchdown when receiver Rishard Matthews broke through the defense on a reverse to cut the deficit to three at 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 answered 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. BSU's Moore then completed a Hail Mary pass downfield to the Nevada 9-yard line with 2 seconds left, but Bronco 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.

Nevada-20 Boston College-13 on January 9, 2011: After beating #3 Boise State and Louisiana Tech to claim a share of the WAC title, Nevada entered the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl ranked #15 nationally. Defenses dominated most of the game, as even Nevada's high-powered offense only scored one touchdown, on a 27-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick to a wide open Rishard Matthews in the first quarter, the last touchdown of the game was a 72-yard punt return by Matthews later in that first quarter. Both teams scored two field goals each to finish off the game, as Nevada won by seven points, this was Nevada's first, and still only bowl victory against a power 5 conference school, and ended the season ranked #11, their highest ranking to date playing in the modern FBS/1-AA subdivision. Matthews was named the game's offensive MVP.

Playoff records[edit]

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

The Division I-AA playoffs included only four teams in 1978;
the field was expanded to eight in 1981, twelve in 1982, and sixteen in 1986.

Bowl games[edit]

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA Notes
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 Overtime
December 18, 1996 Las Vegas Bowl W Ball State 18 15
December 24, 2005 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl W Central Florida 49 48 Overtime
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 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl L Maryland 35 42
December 24, 2009 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl L SMU 10 45
January 9, 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl W Boston College 20 13
December 24, 2011 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl L Southern Miss 17 24
December 15, 2012 Gildan New Mexico Bowl L Arizona 48 49
December 20, 2014 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl L Louisiana–Lafayette 3 16
December 29, 2015 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl W Colorado State 28 23
Total 15 Bowl Games 5–10 339 427

Conference championships[edit]

Season Conference Record Conference record
1932[56] Far West 3–3–2 2–0–1 (co-champions with San Jose State)
1933[56] 4–4 3–0
1939[56] 5–4 3–0
1983[56][57] Big Sky 9–5 6–1
1986[56][57] 13–1 7–0
1990[56][57] 13–2 7–1
1991[56][57] 12–1 8–0
1992[56] Big West 7–5 5–1
1994[56] 9–2 5–1 (tri-champions with Southwestern Louisiana, UNLV)
1995[56] 9–3 6–0
1996[56] 9–3 4–1 (co-champions with Utah State)
1997[56] 5–6 4–1 (co-champions with Utah State)
2005[56][58] WAC 9–3 7–1 (co-champions with Boise State)
2010[56][58] 13–1 7–1 (tri-champions with Boise State, Hawaii)

Records vs. teams[edit]

AAC teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Cincinnati 1–0 1.000 Won 1
South Florida 0–1 .000 Lost 1
SMU 3–3 .500 Lost 2
Tulane 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Tulsa 4–2 .667 Won 2
UCF 1–0 1.000 Won 1
ACC teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Boston College 1–0 1.000 Won 1
Florida State 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Miami (FL) 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Big Ten teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Maryland 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Nebraska 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Northwestern 1–2 .333 Lost 2
Purdue 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Wisconsin 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Big 12 teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
TCU 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Texas Tech 0–2 .000 Lost 2
BSC teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Idaho 20–9 .690 Won 7
Idaho State 18–12 .600 Lost 1
C-USA teams
School All-ime record Percentage Streak
Louisiana Tech 7–5 .583 Lost 1
North Texas 9–2 .818 Won 1
Rice 3–2 .600 Won 1
Southern Miss 0–3 .000 Lost 3
UTEP 2–1 .667 Won 2
Independent teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
BYU 3–5–2 .400 Won 1
UMass 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Notre Dame 0–2 .000 Lost 2
MAC teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Ball State 1–0 1.000 Won 1
Bowling Green 0–1 .000 Lost 1
Buffalo 3–0 1.000 Won 3
Kent State 1–0 1.000 Won 1
Northern Illinois 1–1 .500 Won 1
Toledo 0–4 .000 Lost 4
MWC teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Air Force 1–3 .250 Lost 2
Boise State 13–29 .310 Lost 5
Colorado State 3–12 .200 Lost 1
Fresno State 20–28–1 .418 Lost 1
Hawaii 13–9 .591 Won 1
New Mexico 3–3–1 .500 Lost 1
San Diego State 3–7 .300 Lost 3
San Jose State 20–9–2 .677 Won 1
UNLV 25–17 .595 Won 1
Utah State 18–6 .750 Won 1
Wyoming 3–4 .429 Lost 2
Pac-12 teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Arizona 1–4–1 .250 Lost 4
Arizona State 2–1 .667 Lost 1
California 3–22–1 .135 Won 2
Oregon 1–6 .143 Lost 6
Oregon State 0–3 .000 Lost 3
Stanford 1–10–2 .154 Lost 5
UCLA 0–1 .000 Lost 1
USC 0–5 .000 Lost 5
Utah 5–4–1 .550 Won 1
Washington 1–1 .500 Won 1
Washington State 1–3 .250 Lost 1
SEC teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Missouri 0–2 .000 Lost 2
Texas A&M 0–2 .000 Lost 2
Sun Belt teams
School All-time record Percentage Streak
Arkansas State 3–2 .600 Lost 1
Georgia Southern 0–2 .000 Lost 2
Louisiana–Lafayette 1–1 .500 Lost 1
Louisiana–Monroe 3–0 1.000 Won 3
New Mexico State 13–2 .867 Won 3
Texas State 1–0 1.000 Won 1

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of April 18, 2017:

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
September 1 vs Portland State August 31 vs Purdue September 3 at California
September 8 at Vanderbilt September 7 at Oregon September 12 vs UTEP
September 15 vs Oregon State September 14 vs Weber State September 19 at South Florida September 18 at Kansas State
September 22 at Toledo September 21 at UTEP



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External links[edit]