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Murray's Mailbag: What bowl will Nevada football play in?

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Lucas{ }Weber and the Wolf Pack are bowling. (Kyle Pulek/Nevada athletics)

Big week we've got here. Not only does Nevada football play at UNLV on Saturday in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon. We also have this thing called Thanksgiving on Thursday. I am most thankful for my wife (May), kids (Lexi and Dominic), family (various names) and even my dog (Ripley,) and I hope you get to spend time with your loved ones this week. I'm also thankful for your questions for this Monday Mailbag. Let's dig in.

(Note: If you're not seeing the tweets, it's probably because you're not using Google Chrome. Use Google Chrome).

Oregon State (the worst team in the Pac-12) had a short field goal at the buzzer to beat Nevada (one of the best teams in the MW) while playing on the road. The Pac-12 is certainly not trash compared to the Mountain West. I would actually like to see Nevada play Oregon State and Vanderbilt again. But we can't do that. So, let's get on to your actual question: Which bowl will Nevada play in? Let's assume I have 100 ducets. Here is where I'm placing my ducets on Nevada's bowl location.

50 ducets – New Mexico Bowl (half of my ducets, that's how confident I am in this; Albuquerque is the heavy favorite, which I don't like because I can't spell Albuquerque)

17 ducets – Potato Bowl (this could open if Utah State goes to the Las Vegas Bowl and Boise State goes to the a non-MW bowl to face a better opponent)

17 ducets – Arizona Bowl (it makes sense to put SDSU here; San Diego is 5 1/2 hours from Tucson)

10 ducets - Frisco Bowl (the AAC is unlikely to fill its slot here, so there's a chance this works out for Nevada)

5 ducets - Redbox Bowl (the Big 10 is unlikely to fill its obligation here and the game is in San Francisco, so you never know)

0 ducets – Hawaii Bowl (Hawaii will play in this bowl)

0 ducets – Las Vegas Bowl (the MW winner will play in this bowl)

0 ducets - Cheez-It Bowl (this is a backup-up if the Pac-12 or Big 12 can't fill its slots; the Pac-12 will fill its slots; the Big 12 is two shy but has four teams one win away from bowl eligibility)

And I'm keeping one ducet because I'm greedy. But, my feel, is Nevada is likely headed to the New Mexico Bowl (the first bowl of the season), with the Potato and Arizona bowls being fall-backs and the Redbox Bowl being the ultimate best-case scenario.

The only Wolf Pack quarterbacks with three wins (as a starter) against UNLV are Colin Kaepernick and Fred Gatlin. You know about Kaepernick. Gatlin started three games against UNLV, going 3-0 while completing 63-of-91 passes (69.2 percent) while throwing for 862 yards and seven touchdowns against two interceptions in those victories (by scores of 45-7, 26-14 and 50-8). In Gatlin's senior season, Chris Vargas started against UNLV, but Gatlin came off the bench to play some after Vargas struggled (4-of-13 for 50 yards, two interceptions). Those two combined to lead Nevada to a 14-10 win over the Rebels, but we'll count that as a win for Vargas since he started the game. So, Gangi can join Kaepernick and Gatlin in the three-wins-over-UNLV club, and, yes, Gatlin should be in Wolf Pack Hall of Fame. I'm glad you asked about that.

You send me a sweet potato pie and I'll eat it, Dedric. Dedric also was very good against UNLV. He rushed for 101 yards in Nevada's 1992 win over the Rebels. Cornell West also rushed for 133 yards in the game, marking the first time in 66 games the Wolf Pack put two backs over 100 yards. That UNLV game was one of six 100-yard games in Dedric's career. Now send me that pie!

The MW allows each school to make one scheduling request per year. Both Nevada and UNLV have requested in recent seasons to have the game played on the traditional rivalry weekend (that's the final game of the regularseason). I asked Nevada spokesperson Chad Hartley why the Wolf Pack prefers is that way. Here is what he said:

"We want this game to be a meaningful game each and every year for both schools. We want both teams to be playing for more than state bragging rights and the Fremont Cannon. By being on the traditional rivalry week around the county, this game could be that much better if this was the penultimate game of the season because both teams are headed to bowl games, or if this game had West Division title implications."

It would be cool if Nevada and UNLV played for a West Division title or a bowl spot (like last season). It makes sense for the game to be on the traditional rivalry week, but as you point out, playing it on Thanksgiving weekend likely neuters the attendance. You could argue playing it on Nevada Day Weekend (a three-day weekend in which many families take vacations) also can neuter attendance, although the Wolf Pack did draw 32,521 fans for the 2013 game when the Wolf Pack hosted the Rebels on Nevada Day Weekend.

Also a factor: The Nevada-UNLV game is an emotional one and if you place it in the middle of a season, you run the risk of an emotional letdown the week following, whether it's a win or a loss. An early-season loss to UNLV also could dampen attendance for the rest of the season, like it did in 2013 and 2015. Nevada lost to the Rebels at home in both of those games and saw attendance fall sharply thereafter.

I would love to see this. Brian Polian did not out-right fail at Nevada. He went 23-27 with two bowl appearances and his athletes did great things in the classroom. He was largely let go because of tumbling attendance and donor issues. The attendance at Nevada remains low, so there are issues beyond Polian that drove those numbers, although he contributed to that a lot, too, by losing at home to UNLV twice and with his well-known sideline "issues." At Nevada, Polian was a young, first-time head coach who was running a unique program. I'm sure he's matured since then and will be better the second time around. Will he get a second chance? I'd give it a 40 percent shot he gets another FBS head gig at some point. He's not an offensive/defensive coordinator, so that makes things tough, but he has connections. I want to see how he'd do given a second opportunity.

UC Davis asked around to see which colleges could staff and host the event and the Wolf Pack stepped in, so Nevada's administration deserves credit for allowing that game to be played by giving the Sacto schools its venue and use of its personnel (that personnel also deserves credit for working on a planned off day). I agree the Wolf Pack deserves some kudos for making it happen as the air quality would have canceled the game otherwise. Nice move by the Wolf Pack.

I discussed Jay Norvell and a potential extension last week. The short but sweet version: Norvell has earned an extension but where does the money come from to give him one? I'd let it play out one more season before offering an extension because there's no risk right now of another school poaching him and he still has three years left on his contract. As for Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth, I don't see him leaving any time soon and his contract is up in June anyway. He gets another extension before potentially leaving Nevada.

I'm looking forward to UNR President Brian Sandoval.

KenPom has Duke at 3.43 points better than Nevada on a neutral court (that's not many points). That's about 60-40 Duke wins. I'd put it more at 75-25 in favor of Duke.

While Nevada still has five scholarships to fill in this class (six if Lindsey Drew plays this season), I don't see that happening. The Wolf Pack can keep taking transfers until it fills up the 13 scholarships. Might as well add as much talent as possible.

I said in last week's Mailbag that Cody Martin will break Billy Allen's record for assists per game, which is 8.6 set in 1981-82. Barring an injury, Martin is a lock to break the total assists mark, which is 240 by Allen that year (he only played 28 games). Martin and the Wolf Pack will play 35-40 games this season, which gives him a big edge.

I'll take the slight under on double-double. My database has him finishing with 9.1 assists per game this season. And he will not have at least five triple-doubles. A Nevada player hasn't had a triple-double since 1979 and the school has just five triple-doubles in its history. Getting a triple-double is hard. Martin has just five career games with 10+ rebounds and four career games with 10+ assists. Hitting both those figures (and getting 10+ points) five times this season is a high benchmark. I do, however, foresee him getting at least one triple-double this season.

I don't know that I'm surprised by it, but I thought we'd see Nevada use its depth and trap a little more defensively. The Wolf Pack has largely stuck with an eight-man rotation with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline still logging big minutes (34 mpg, 34 mpg and 31.3 mpg, the last figure being lower because Caleb Martin has had some foul trouble). Nevada isn't using its bench a ton at this stage.

I'll leave all of my old media guides if you'd like those. They're heavy and I'm weak, so I don't want to move them. I also will allow you one 30-minute call per month to talk Wolf Pack sports or three 10-minute calls per month, whichever you prefer. We'll put that in the contract. Also, if you want to buy my house, click here. Fresno here I come! (But you're right, that will be a long commute, but it's worth it to live in America's gem).

I didn't even know what Purplebricks was until I saw this tweet. I use my brother-in-law's agency, The Drakulich Kane Real Estate Group. That would be J.D. Drakulich (of the famous Drakulichs) and Ryan Kane (who has been cursed to being a Detroit Lions fan his entire life and thus deserves all the support he can give him).

Nevada has been called for 58 fouls this season. Nevada's opponents have been called for 79 fouls. The Wolf Pack has a 91-50 edge in free throws attempt. Nevada fans should be applauding the refs. But, yes, too many foul calls for my liking. It's always like that the first few games as the officials try and set the tone on less physical play before backing off. We should see that backing off soon, thankfully so. Nobody wants a whistle a minute.

Given Nevada's history, we'll see a lot of starting lineups this season. The Wolf Pack likes Jazz Johnson's energy and 3-point shooting off the bench, so I think he stays a reserve. I would not be surprised to see Jordan Brown start again at some point. All we know for sure is Caleb Martin, Cody Martin and Jordan Caroline will start every game. And what if Lindsey Drew does return this season? I imagine he'd find his way into the starting lineup. The season is long. We don't know who will be starting in the NCAA Tournament four months from now. We do know Nevada has a lot of good options to pick from.

I would take any song over "Sweet Caroline" (A 28-year-old Neil Diamond singing about an 11-year-old Caroline Kennedy is creepy.) If we are taking suggestions, I'd like to go with Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go." Enjoy the video below. (The lyrical genius of the yo-yo line is amazing).


Some of these tournaments are booked five years in advance and five years ago Nevada was 9-22, so it wasn't too attractive. You're right the Continental Tire Las Vegas Holiday Invitational is a drag on Nevada's schedule. The combo of Little Rock, Cal Baptist, Tulsa and Southern Illinois/UMass hits the strength of schedule, and the game's are pretty expensive. There also was a point where Nevada thought it was in this year's good Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, which features UCLA, Michigan State, North Carolina and Texas. That ended up not being the case.

The Wolf Pack does bump up to the Paradise Jam next season, which has a better but still not great field (Cincinnati, Nevada, Illinois State, Western Kentucky, Valparaiso, Fordham, Bowling Green and a TDB eighth team). Even in the David Carter years, the Wolf Pack was in some solid events (the 2014-15 Paradise Jam; faced UCLA and Missouri in the 2013-14 Las Vegas Invitational), but for the most part the big tournaments have not sought Nevada. That should change in upcoming years.

Nevada has 13 non-conference games. The only games I can see Nevada losing are Loyola Chicago, South Dakota State, USC, Arizona State and Utah. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wolf Pack sitting at 11-2 entering MW action, but I think it will be 12-1 (the Arizona State and USC games are the most dangerous). There's also a chance Nevada is 13-0, at which point it might be the No. 1 team in the nation depending upon what Duke is up to. If Nevada goes 11-2 or better, it will be in the Top 25. If it goes 12-1, it will be in the top 15. If it is 10-3, it won't be ranked.

Barring any unforeseen changes, this is what the Wolf Pack's 2019-20 active roster will look like (I'm assuming Lindsey Drew redshirts, although that might be up in the air given Corey Henson's situation).

PG: Lindsey Drew/Jazz Johnson

SG: Jalen Harris/Nisré Zouzoua/JoJo Anderson

SF: Eric Parrish/Jalen Townswell

PF: K.J. Hymes/Vincent Lee

C: Jordan Brown

That's a solid roster, and that's with five scholarship players still to add. And I'm sure things will change "bigly" from now until the 2019 season opener.

Lindsey Drew is indeed an excellent and under-rated player and would be a great piece for every team. If Nevada wants to go all in this year, they could add him in February. I personally would redshirt him even if it hurts the team a little this year to help the team a lot next year. He'd be a 35-minute piece next season compared to a 15-minute piece this year. Plus, adding a key player that late in the season (even a good one) would require a major mid-year change that can be difficult as other players would be affected, too. The smart and safe choice is to redshirt Drew unless Nevada loses a player to injury or some other ailment and needs the immediate help in March.

Fouls. The Wolf Pack center fouled out in 11 minutes in Nevada's last game. He was in foul trouble the previous game. And Nevada has pretty clearly gone with playing one big, so it's either Trey Porter or Jordan Brown on the court, and Brown has played well the last two games. I do expect more minutes from Porter as long as he can avoid the fouls.

Gonzaga used the Mountain West as a leverage play to get concessions from the West Coast Conference. If the MW can again be a legitimately good basketball conference (top seven in the RPI), I could see Gonzaga moving to the league. But it would be a lateral move at this stage and not worth it for the Zags. The MW really needs Nevada to stay where it is, San Diego State, New Mexico and UNLV to be NCAA-Tournament caliber teams and Boise State and Utah State to be solid NIT-type programs. Unless the MW does that, there's no reason for Gonzaga to join and give up its past NCAA Tournament credits.

Big Brother got him.

The Wolf Pack basketball team's record for wins is 29 set in 2006-07 and matched last season. I'll put the Wolf Pack down for 32 victories this year (26 in the regular season, three in the MW Tournament, three in the NCAA Tournament).

You don't like Muhammad Ali yelling, "The champ is here!"

(Also, the line above technically warrants a question mark at the end, but it feels weird putting a question mark after the quotation, so I'm not doing it).

I assume it is measured from the middle of the fuselage, similar to how the distance to the green when golfing is measured to the middle of the putting surface. This is an important question, though. I'm glad you asked it.

My understanding is Damonte Ranch was flagged for excessive celebration following its game-tying pick-six and Bishop Manogue was given the option of assessing the 15 yards on the extra point or the kickoff. The Miners took the extra point, which the Mustangs missed before losing in overtime. This game was nuts by the way.

Spatchcocked, baby!

My recommendation is to spatchcock it. Spatch. Cock.

Best: Brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with marshmallows followed by a dose of diabetes.

Worst: Peas. If you put a pea in front of me, get ready to have it thrown back in your face.

Stuffing. I do like me some stuffing.

That's like asking Dodgers or Giants, and the ham is the Giants. The only good ham is The Great Hambino.

The basketball one is easy. Caleb and Cody Martin. They're freaking twins. For football, I'm going Malik Reed and Korey Rush, two fifth-year seniors who chase down quarterbacks like the jive turkeys they are.

1. White meat

2. Pumpkin pie

3. Dark meat

4. Hawaiian rolls

5. Apple pie

6. Baked yam

7. Ambrosia salad

8. Green beans almondine

We're going dutch apple and pumpkin in a close call over pecan, which ended up third (but we only need two pies).

This did not age well as Fresno State pushed past San Diego State to clinch the West Division. And I'm mostly out on cranberry sauce. Too tart.

You would not believe the amount of grit in a Jay Norvell-cooked turkey. Imagine the most grit you can conger in your mind. Now quadruple it. That's how much grit we're talking about.

Agreed. There's a lot to be thankful for at this time of year, especially given some of the tragedies we've seen in recent months. Enjoy your friends and enjoy your family this week. Do what you can to help those affected by the California wildfires. and we'll see everybody again next Monday.

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