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Wolf Pack notes: Avery Morrow's surgery, non-conference games, bowl ratings

Avery Morrow
Avery Morrow will require surgery to fix a torn tendon in his leg suffered during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. (David Calvert/Nevada athletics)

Avery Morrow, a true freshman running back for Nevada, suffered a severe leg injury during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl that will require surgery and keep him sidelined several months.

“I think he’s going to have to have surgery, and I think it’s going to be probably about six months that he’s going to be out," Nevada football coach Jay Norvell told NSN. "He tore a tendon that leads to his hamstring. He’s a really great young kid and a really good player. Smart kid, really mature."

Morrow suffered the injury on the first series of Nevada's bowl game against Tulane and had to be helped off the field. A native of Seattle, Morrow appeared in all nine games for Nevada this season, rushing for 76 yards on 12 carries (6.3 yards per attempt) and a touchdown. He also had four catches for 13 yards.

Morrow's injury will keep him out of the Wolf Pack's winter conditioning program, which starts in two weeks, and spring camp, which will run in April, but he is expected to be healthy for the start of the 2021 season. Morrow would be penciled in as Nevada's No. 3 running back after returning seniors Toa Taua and Devonte Lee, each entering their fourth season in the program.

"Avery should be back by the season, but it’s going to affect his offseason training," Norvell said, adding the tendon he tore was not the ACL.

Nevada's Arkansas game canceled

The Wolf Pack's 2020 non-conference schedule, which included games with Arkansas, USF, UTEP and UC Davis, is not expected to be made up in the future. Those games were canceled last season as the year was shortened due to COVID-19.

“They are wiped, and that’s unfortunate," Norvell said. "I believe they are just waived and we no longer have any commitment to play them. It’s unfortunate because who knows if we play a 12-game schedule and you go and you beat an Arkansas, then all of a sudden your program gets looked upon in a different light nationally. The non-conference games, it would have been fun to see Carson (Strong) play a 12-game schedule. It would have been fun to see Romeo (Doubs) play a 12-game schedule and see what they could have done statistically. But that’s just kind of what it is.”

Nevada was scheduled to get a one-time payout of $1.5 million to play at Arkansas, which would have tied a school record. The game against USF was scheduled more a decade ago as a return matchup from when the Bulls played in Reno in 2012. And the UC Davis game held local intrigue given Bishop Manogue alum Peyton Dixon is on the Aggies' roster.

The Wolf Pack's 2021 non-conference schedule includes games at Cal and Kansas State and home matchups with Idaho State and New Mexico State. Nevada will get $1 million to play at Kansas State. The payment for the Cal game is unknown as it was originally scheduled as part of a three-game series signed in the late 2000s and has been rescheduled several times. The first two games of the series were played in 2010 and 2012, both Nevada wins. The Wolf Pack will open the season at Cal on Sept. 4.

“We start off with Cal, and I think it’s great," Norvell said. "It’s kind of like starting off with Purdue (in 2019) Your whole offseason, you know what you’re looking forward to. You know you have to start fast. It just really gives you a sense of urgency all offseason.”

Bowl ratings down year over year

Nevada played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the second straight season, with both games airing on ESPN, but this year's game drew significantly lower ratings.

The Wolf Pack's 38-27 win over Tulane had 914,000 viewers, down from 1.36 million viewers for Nevada's game against Ohio in last year's bowl. That was a decrease of 32.8 percent. It was the lowest-rated of the three bowls that included Mountain West teams this season. Hawaii's game against Houston, also on ESPN, drew 1.9 million viewers. San Jose State's bowl with Ball State, on CBS, drew 1.77 million viewers. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl ranked 25th out of 26 bowls in television audience ahead of only the Myrtle Beach Bowl between North Texas and Appalachian State, which drew 637,000 viewers.

The 914,000 viewers who tuned in for the Nevada-Tulane game was the most for the Wolf Pack this season. Among regular-season games, Nevada's contest against San Diego State in the typical SEC timeslot on CBS drew 859,000 viewers. Its games against Utah State and UNLV, both on FS1, drew 257,000 and 293,000 viewers, respectively. Data for the games against Fresno State and New Mexico, both on FS2, was not available.

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